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Heartwood: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy

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HEARTWOOD: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy is the first ever non-binary comics anthology, made entirely by cartoonists who identify as a non-binary gender! Across time and cultures, humanity has spun tales about the forest: tales of caution, adventure, rites of passage, and discovery. Some of those stories persist as the folklore and fairy tales that delight our imagina HEARTWOOD: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy is the first ever non-binary comics anthology, made entirely by cartoonists who identify as a non-binary gender! Across time and cultures, humanity has spun tales about the forest: tales of caution, adventure, rites of passage, and discovery. Some of those stories persist as the folklore and fairy tales that delight our imaginations today, and the forest remains a symbol for facing the unknown and emerging transformed. This anthology is for everyone who’s walked through the undergrowth, in the silence of nature, and longed for an adventure of their own to unfold. These stories of modern-day sylvan fantasy showcase some of the best non-binary cartoonists of our day, guiding characters like us into the woods and back again.


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HEARTWOOD: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy is the first ever non-binary comics anthology, made entirely by cartoonists who identify as a non-binary gender! Across time and cultures, humanity has spun tales about the forest: tales of caution, adventure, rites of passage, and discovery. Some of those stories persist as the folklore and fairy tales that delight our imagina HEARTWOOD: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy is the first ever non-binary comics anthology, made entirely by cartoonists who identify as a non-binary gender! Across time and cultures, humanity has spun tales about the forest: tales of caution, adventure, rites of passage, and discovery. Some of those stories persist as the folklore and fairy tales that delight our imaginations today, and the forest remains a symbol for facing the unknown and emerging transformed. This anthology is for everyone who’s walked through the undergrowth, in the silence of nature, and longed for an adventure of their own to unfold. These stories of modern-day sylvan fantasy showcase some of the best non-binary cartoonists of our day, guiding characters like us into the woods and back again.

30 review for Heartwood: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dax

    This is a beautiful collection of amazing works by many queer authors/artists/cartoonists. I rather enjoyed all of the creativity and the uniqueness of each tale. I appreciate the breakdown at the very back of the book of potential trigger warnings and it's call for self care. Whether these tales are windows or mirrors there is something for everyone, especially those who love the fantastical and representation. This is a beautiful collection of amazing works by many queer authors/artists/cartoonists. I rather enjoyed all of the creativity and the uniqueness of each tale. I appreciate the breakdown at the very back of the book of potential trigger warnings and it's call for self care. Whether these tales are windows or mirrors there is something for everyone, especially those who love the fantastical and representation.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    comics anthology centered around non-binary characters and ~*fairies*~ (or i guess more generally, supernatural stuff, frequently in the woods). first off, this anthology book is very beautiful (physically). the hardcover has gilt edges (fancy!!!), and feels really thoughtfully put together. there are 22 stories (avg 12 pages each), and having read a few other comic anthologies recently, I feel I can say somewhat confidently that this is a well-curated collection of comics — the quality of comic comics anthology centered around non-binary characters and ~*fairies*~ (or i guess more generally, supernatural stuff, frequently in the woods). first off, this anthology book is very beautiful (physically). the hardcover has gilt edges (fancy!!!), and feels really thoughtfully put together. there are 22 stories (avg 12 pages each), and having read a few other comic anthologies recently, I feel I can say somewhat confidently that this is a well-curated collection of comics — the quality of comic craft is, generally, very high. I do want to note that the "non-binary" label here is pretty loose (and largely implied). I don't think that's a bad thing (in fact I found it kind of neat, like "who's NB here? frankly, it could be anyone! and that's swell")! however, I do think that if some of these stories were read outside of the context of this anthology, the NB aspect might get lost. I started listing out the stories I enjoyed most and ended up with a list that was over half of the stories in the book (and largely with comments like "I loved the style of this comic", repetitively, and then additionally comments about animals rendered in the comics), so uh, yeah! a very well-curated collection indeed. I've tried to whittle down to my top... 6. in the order they are in the book: -Blât (chlove): loved the critter designs and the general comedic sensibility, feels like it could be a nice set-up for a series -The Beast in the Garden (Ver): THAT CAT(?)!!! loved the style of this. also: funny. -Shepherd (Cori Walters): SHEEP. very short and lovely. -This Far (Lee Lai): I'm repetitive af, but I loved the style of this as well. a quiet and intimate conversation, about... becoming a tree. (I do kind of question the mapping of "becoming a tree" to "transitioning". it's the type of thing that's interesting in fiction and potentially infuriating IRL) -Morel Support (Ashanti Fortson): SO lovely. a good ol' family plant+mushroom adventure. -The Lungs of Jeju (Sunmi): loose and specific (in the storytelling) and really, really lovely. kind of a quentin blake-like sensibility to illustration. additional shout-out to "Dear Paloma" (Polly Guo), which was very weird and silly, in the best way. bye

  3. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    Aw, I really enjoyed this! My favorites were The Beast in the Garden, Love Letters, In the Branches, In the Soil, Shepherd, Morel Support, The Lungs of Jeju, and Shuvah (Return). It was a really nice collection of pretty black-and-white graphics, inclusive casts, and a wide variety of stories. Rating: 3.5 stars!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    I loved almost all of the art in these graphic short stories, but I can't say same for the stories. Some of the stories were cute and wholesome while others barely made any sense and constantly switched narrative tones despite being less than 10 pages long. I do appreciate the diversity found in these stories though– not only of characters' identities, but of themes, settings, storytelling devices, and genres. Even though this was a pretty specific anthology (fantasies set in forests featuring no I loved almost all of the art in these graphic short stories, but I can't say same for the stories. Some of the stories were cute and wholesome while others barely made any sense and constantly switched narrative tones despite being less than 10 pages long. I do appreciate the diversity found in these stories though– not only of characters' identities, but of themes, settings, storytelling devices, and genres. Even though this was a pretty specific anthology (fantasies set in forests featuring non-binary characters) there was room for a lot of creativity and that showed in the breadth of the stories. My favorites were - "The Beast in the Garden" by Ver– teenage romance story, all the squealy feels and sarcastic humor - "In the Branches, in the Soil" by SJ Miller– about loneliness and the way it drives us to change ourselves to please others - "Dear Paloma" by Polly Guo– graphic novel version of a shit post, meme humor that comes with a surprisingly deep moral Even though I can't praise the quality of every single on of these stories, I do highly recommend picking this up! We need more stories filled with representation, and especially give attention (and $$$) to the voices of marginalized creatives making beautiful work 💖

  5. 5 out of 5

    Squirrel

    I think I would have liked this anthology of comics short stories better if it had half as many contributors with stories twice as long. There are 22 stories in 270ish pages, and nearly all of them seemed rushed. Most of them felt like they could use more time to show us more about the characters. The stories I liked best were the ones where the protagonist went into the woods and came out just a bit different. That is, stories like, "The Beast in the Garden," "This Far" and "Shuvah." Many of the I think I would have liked this anthology of comics short stories better if it had half as many contributors with stories twice as long. There are 22 stories in 270ish pages, and nearly all of them seemed rushed. Most of them felt like they could use more time to show us more about the characters. The stories I liked best were the ones where the protagonist went into the woods and came out just a bit different. That is, stories like, "The Beast in the Garden," "This Far" and "Shuvah." Many of the others packed in too much plot in too few pages and I felt cut off from the characters. And maybe what's at the core of my slight discontent with this anthology is that most of the nonbinary characters are incidentally nonbinary. Change a few words and they could be any other gender. This is likely the crotchety old genderqueer in me, but I am somewhat disappointed that nearly all of the nonbinary characters used they/them pronouns and not any other pronouns. I don't like how they/them has become the default as we slowly coalesce into what nonbinary "should" be. How could an anthology about nonbinary people and the woods *not* include a character that uses fae/faer/faerself?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rasak

    Most of the comics are really nicely drawn and stories are nice too. Although it's funny that some of the stories have similar plots, like bags get stolen in the forest in at least 3 stories. It's also nice that the book has trigger warnings that is really great practice and I appreciate the effort, but as it's on the last page, I saw it only after reading everything. But only one story I personally found disturbing and not fitting with the rest of the book. Otherwise the book is an easy and nic Most of the comics are really nicely drawn and stories are nice too. Although it's funny that some of the stories have similar plots, like bags get stolen in the forest in at least 3 stories. It's also nice that the book has trigger warnings that is really great practice and I appreciate the effort, but as it's on the last page, I saw it only after reading everything. But only one story I personally found disturbing and not fitting with the rest of the book. Otherwise the book is an easy and nice read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ser

    After my first read through, I don't really feel like providing a detailed review, but it seems worth writing that I am so glad I bought this book. It is so full of such beautiful and diverse art and such beautiful and diverse non-binary characters, struggling and triumphing and simply being themselves. Sometimes I find it stunning just how much wealth we can put in each other's hands by publishing a book. This is one of those times. After my first read through, I don't really feel like providing a detailed review, but it seems worth writing that I am so glad I bought this book. It is so full of such beautiful and diverse art and such beautiful and diverse non-binary characters, struggling and triumphing and simply being themselves. Sometimes I find it stunning just how much wealth we can put in each other's hands by publishing a book. This is one of those times.

  8. 5 out of 5

    S.M.

    Great collection of short comics.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Morrison

    A lovely comic anthology! It's nice to see so many different art and story styles. A lovely comic anthology! It's nice to see so many different art and story styles.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Khai

    I loved the stories in this comic anthology. Beautiful illustrations, strong nonbinary characters, enchanting tales, by nonbinary artists and authors - I love it and highly recommend it!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    Such a good collection! A mix of fun and serious but just all around a stunning read. SO PRETTY!!!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Fei

    Beautiful artwork and stories! My kind of fairy tale

  13. 4 out of 5

    Akiva

    I wasn't feeling the first third of the book, but the last 2/3 was generally better. IDK what that's about. Some of the standouts: "Finding Alex" - surreal mysterious metaphorical adventures that change you. yay! "Shepherd" - chill and philosophical, but doesn't try to cram too much in. (As opposed to "The Flourishing Feast" which I think was trying for something similar but turned out totally incomprehensible, and not in a way that made me want to reread more deeply.) "This Far" - wow. wow. Need t I wasn't feeling the first third of the book, but the last 2/3 was generally better. IDK what that's about. Some of the standouts: "Finding Alex" - surreal mysterious metaphorical adventures that change you. yay! "Shepherd" - chill and philosophical, but doesn't try to cram too much in. (As opposed to "The Flourishing Feast" which I think was trying for something similar but turned out totally incomprehensible, and not in a way that made me want to reread more deeply.) "This Far" - wow. wow. Need to find more from this artist. "Dear Paloma" - alienating in its zaniness at the start, but then it comes together really nicely! "The Lungs of Jeju" - I wasn't into the ending (felt like the artist ran out of ideas), but I liked the rest. "Shuvah" - totally made me tear up.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tabor

    Beautiful cover with some thoughtful stories. Overall, I found most of these stories inconsequential and wish they had explored more non-binary themes and narratives.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marte

    I got an Ebook version of this book (mostly due to the shipping price to Europe), and although the book looks really good, I have some concerns. Idk why it's the case, but the ebook file for this is SO large! I've downloaded ebooks on my computer before, and this is the first time this has happened! (so if you're considering buying the ebook, beware) The book itself was really good! I haven't got a lot of experience with short comics like this, so I felt like I wanted more for several of them. I I got an Ebook version of this book (mostly due to the shipping price to Europe), and although the book looks really good, I have some concerns. Idk why it's the case, but the ebook file for this is SO large! I've downloaded ebooks on my computer before, and this is the first time this has happened! (so if you're considering buying the ebook, beware) The book itself was really good! I haven't got a lot of experience with short comics like this, so I felt like I wanted more for several of them. I know that part of those I wanted more of was just because I loved them, and the other part was because I felt it was incomplete. Overall, really good tho! It's also so nice that since there are so many different authors/artists, the art-style is so different comic to comic. Everyone will find a comic style they can vibe with, or themes that they love! I also found that a couple of them, which I didn't expect to even like at the beginning, I ended up absolutely loooving! Also, we need more GREAT rep like this! The rep is so good, very varied and comes so natural. It's definitely clear that it's non-binary tales told from non-binary authors, because it's just amaze. It also shows how easy it is to write stuff in a gender neutral way! Would literally recommend this to anyone. Honorable mentions of the comics that I absolutely LOVED: Blât the hunter, Expand, Streams of Consciousness, The Beast in the garden, Dear Paloma (I hated the beginning, but was literally scream laughing by the end) and Dive.

  16. 4 out of 5

    xo

    Nice! The tone and themes of the stories were more unified in this anthology than in a lot of other ones I've read, which made for a very smooth one-sitting reading experience. Super short fiction along these lines doesn't really do it for me, so I wasn't totally in love - that's always how I feel about anthologies, I think. I enjoyed it, it's pretty, and there's a really nice variety of stories. On the whole it was a little more cutesy than really suits my taste. I wasn't expecting it to be so Nice! The tone and themes of the stories were more unified in this anthology than in a lot of other ones I've read, which made for a very smooth one-sitting reading experience. Super short fiction along these lines doesn't really do it for me, so I wasn't totally in love - that's always how I feel about anthologies, I think. I enjoyed it, it's pretty, and there's a really nice variety of stories. On the whole it was a little more cutesy than really suits my taste. I wasn't expecting it to be so much about children, and most (but not all) of the stories seemed like they were aimed at children. I'm not a fan of most kid's stuff lately, so it didn't really click, but I'm glad it exists. I'm sure a lot of people would love it!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andie

    This delightful, laid-back anthology is a visual treat with its varied art styles and consciousness of gender and cultural diversity. Power and Magic Press always does a great job of getting lots of different perspectives in their anthologies, and the characters—and monsters— in this anthology range from Jewish and First Nations to Korean and Latinx. Whether exploring gender or ignoring it, each story offers characters with neutral pronouns, some dealing with personal crises or helping others wi This delightful, laid-back anthology is a visual treat with its varied art styles and consciousness of gender and cultural diversity. Power and Magic Press always does a great job of getting lots of different perspectives in their anthologies, and the characters—and monsters— in this anthology range from Jewish and First Nations to Korean and Latinx. Whether exploring gender or ignoring it, each story offers characters with neutral pronouns, some dealing with personal crises or helping others with theirs. This book is a treat for anyone needing a break from the aggressively gendered media that dominates the shelves.

  18. 5 out of 5

    laura (bookies & cookies)

    While I personally am not a fan of anthologies written by different authors and artists (I just feel like the stories either don't get enough time for the set-up or the conclusion), I think this book is incredibly valuable. Some stories are very direct that a character is a non-binary or uses they/them pronouns, or is in the LGBTQ+ community, while others are more subtle, or I suppose, it need not be said; it's already understood. A small pet peeve is that the artists listed in the back are liste While I personally am not a fan of anthologies written by different authors and artists (I just feel like the stories either don't get enough time for the set-up or the conclusion), I think this book is incredibly valuable. Some stories are very direct that a character is a non-binary or uses they/them pronouns, or is in the LGBTQ+ community, while others are more subtle, or I suppose, it need not be said; it's already understood. A small pet peeve is that the artists listed in the back are listed in alphabetical order, rather than the order of the stories, so it was difficult to find the authors you were interested in, without a lot of page turning.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Weizenbaum

    It's hard, when creating an anthology curated around identity, to avoid all the stories repeating the most archetypal articulations of that identity. It's something I've seen many anthologies fall prey to. But Heartwood doesn't at all—every comic has its own thing to say and its own way of integrating that with the sylvan aesthetic, producing an absolutely wonderful work of art that functions as a whole and well as a collection. It's hard, when creating an anthology curated around identity, to avoid all the stories repeating the most archetypal articulations of that identity. It's something I've seen many anthologies fall prey to. But Heartwood doesn't at all—every comic has its own thing to say and its own way of integrating that with the sylvan aesthetic, producing an absolutely wonderful work of art that functions as a whole and well as a collection.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sistermagpie

    This is a really love collection of short stories by all different authors and artists. They're often quiet but stay with you in the best of ways. If I had to pick a favorite that spoke most to me, it would probably be "This Far" with "Return" coming in second, but that probably depends on mood. It's nice to read one at a time and live with it for a bit before going onto the next one, because each one has its own heart. This is a really love collection of short stories by all different authors and artists. They're often quiet but stay with you in the best of ways. If I had to pick a favorite that spoke most to me, it would probably be "This Far" with "Return" coming in second, but that probably depends on mood. It's nice to read one at a time and live with it for a bit before going onto the next one, because each one has its own heart.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    4.5 stars This anthology was fantastic! By far my favorite from Power & Magic. Something about it just really worked for me. I think it’s because of the “sylvan” aspect of it. There were very few comics here I didn’t enjoy that much. The majority of them were great. I even went on a mini follow spree of some of the artists I liked the most. Overall, the different stories and the different critters in the comics stole my heart.

  22. 5 out of 5

    James

    This was an incredibly wonderful and heartwarming read with a variety of diverse stories by non-binary writers and artists that were all beautifully unique. I enjoyed all of them, however, my favorites were: Blât, The Beast in the Garden, In the Branches, In the Soil, Unwanted, Morel Support, and Shuvah (Return).

  23. 4 out of 5

    strawberry

    as with most anthologies— especially those written and illustrated by multiple people— some stories were stronger than others. i want to list my personal favorites here for future reference. no vacancy by xanthe bouma love letters by rii abrego dear paloma by polly guo new leaves by emily madly & maria li

  24. 5 out of 5

    Celia

    This collection made my heart sing and ache and leap for joy and stop in its tracks and revel at how beautiful everything is - I absolutely adored each of the stories in this book; from the art to the writing, this is everything I could have wanted.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    this was so good and soft and full of plants and queers! I'm a newbie with comic collections so I am adjusting to the fact that each one is so short but they were all great stories with a huge variety in art style. all of the love put into them was v clear! this was so good and soft and full of plants and queers! I'm a newbie with comic collections so I am adjusting to the fact that each one is so short but they were all great stories with a huge variety in art style. all of the love put into them was v clear!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gabi A

    Sweet, powerful collection of stories covering a wide range of topics, about change (that universal magic of the forest metaphor) and finding yourself and navigating relationships and goodness. Great to see so much non-binary rep in one place! Fantastic range of author and artist talent.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ailbhe

    Yet another stunning collection from P&M Press!! Some of these stories made me cry, some of them made me laugh, all of them felt affirming and true. And wow, the diversity in art styles! Such a joy to read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    charlotte,

    Rep: non-binary mcs, non-white characters (3.5) faves: no vacancy, streams of consciousness, the beast in the garden, love letters, in the branches in the soil & unwanted

  29. 4 out of 5

    Esther O. Lee

    Beautiful hardback with guilded pages. Faves: SJ Miller’s In the branches, in the soil Ezra Rose and Jey Barnes’s Shuvah (Return)

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nell

    This was a really solid collection.

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