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Pride Recommendations: Graphic Novels

Today, I’m going to talk about my favorite queer graphic novels, both because I’ve recently read new ones I really liked, and because I don’t talk about the ones I love that aren’t new often enough.


Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu & Sana Takeda

This is an ongoing dark fantasy series, and I consider it one of my favorites. The queer representation in it is somewhat subtle at first, also because the worldbuilding is a lot to take in, but with time it becomes clear that this series is set in a steampunk Asian-inspired matriarchy in which heteronormativity isn’t a thing. By the third volume, it’s explicit that the main character Maika is queer and that her relationship with Tuya wasn’t platonic.

I like this series mainly for the art. The cover should already give you an idea of what it’s like inside, and it is one of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever read. It makes the gory fight scenes look pretty, and the landscapes are everything. For the plot, I feel like I can describe Monstress as “a darker Daughter of Smoke and Bone meets Kameron Hurley’s books”, because that’s exactly how it feels. Also, I’d usually avoid saying things like “this is written for [x]”, but this genuinely feels like it’s written for queer women – it’s full of morally gray and villainous women who are beautiful and yet never look like a 90% cleavage caricature you’d find in so many other comics with female villains.


Twisted Romance by Alex de Campi

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This is one of my favorite anthologies, and I can’t believe how underrated it is. It’s an anthology of unusual romance stories, both in prose and in comic form, and most of the stories in it are queer (also, many main characters are people of color and there’s fat rep). There are polyamorous lesbians, bisexual vampires, monster hunters falling in love, girls escaping abusive relationship, m/m romances in space, and also asexual representation and discussions of kink, consent and whether anyone is ever “owed” romance (spoiler: no). Not every story worked for me, but I still think it’s gorgeous.


Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki & Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

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A new one! I read it a few days ago and it instantly became my favorite standalone graphic novel. The art in it is gorgeous – detailed, soft, and atmospheric, in beautiful shades of gray and pink, and I wanted to stare at it forever – and so is the message. This is a story about a biracial East Asian girl who is in love with her perfect, popular girlfriend Laura Dean. However, Laura Dean keeps cheating on her, breaking up with her, demanding her time while barely giving anything back. This is a story about the meaning and role of love and relationships, about how they don’t exist to isolate you, about the importance of being there for your friends.

It means a lot to me to see that we’re able to get queer stories that are neither happy nor tragic, stories that deal with struggles that aren’t unique to queer girls but with all the nuances details that are.


On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden

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This is technically available online as a webcomic, and I read it like that, but maybe it would make sense to read it as a physical copy, as it always took forever to load. Anyway, this is a space fantasy story about a girl trying to find her way back to her girlfriend in a space that is very different from our own. From floating palaces to flying fish and fox ghosts, there’s an entire universe of magic in this book, and I think that people who love the found family trope will love this.

The art style is very… muted, quiet, almost overwhelmingly so – the kind of quiet that haunts you – but there’s a beauty to it.


Bloom by Kevin Panetta & Savanna Ganucheau

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A cute graphic novel about two boys falling in love while working in a bakery, of course featuring lots of food (there are even recipes in the graphic novel) and also a surprising amount of drawing of flowers. It’s set in a coastal town and it almost had the perfect summer-y atmosphere – I say almost because the blue-to-gray palette wasn’t, in my opinion, what suited the story.

It is as adorable as it sounds, but I think that anyone who wants to get into this should also keep in mind that it follows a very insecure (and immature) main character who is dealing with a lot of self-doubt and with a friendship he doesn’t realize is toxic, and there’s also some miscommunication involved, so I wouldn’t describe it as pure fluff. However, I actually appreciated Ari’s development and how this novel talked about understanding what you want from your future and who you want to spend it with.


What are your favorite queer graphic novels?

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12 thoughts on “Pride Recommendations: Graphic Novels

  1. I love these recommendations! I’m really looking forward to reading Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me and catching up on Monstress. Daughter of Smoke and Bone meets Kameron Hurley is a perfect comparison, it’s such a strange and dark, but beautiful world. Sunbeam also sounds really interesting, I’ll check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you end up liking Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me! And On a Sunbeam was really unique, the closest thing I can think of is the setting of A Spark of White Fire because of floating palaces and space ghosts, but this is… a lot less vibrant than that, and not as much like a fairytale.

      Like

  2. I absolutely adore Monstress, though I’ve only read the first volume. I totally agree with you that the art is absolutely gorgeous, and the worldbuilding is so beautifully rich. Daughter of Smoke meets Kameron Hurley is such a good way to describe it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s the kind of thing I would have read just to stare at it. And it does take a lot to make something that gory also pretty, if it had been illustrated by someone who wasn’t as capable of that, I don’t know if I would have completed it

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the recs!! I’ve only read On A Sunbeam out of these but the other ones are all on my tbr now!
    I bought the first monstress as an ebook and then kind of regretted it when I saw a physical copy in a store (but it was in German so i wouldn’t have bought it anyway) because it’s so stunning, but also way more expensive lol. It looks like the kind of art you have to pause on every page to really look at and appreciate and that would make reading it the first time a bit frustrating and slow, I feel? For me at least. But it sounds so good I can’t wait to start reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I hope you like them! I bought the Italian editions pf Monstress and they’re stunning, I just hope they won’t stop translating the series halfway through (the only flaw: they smell. I don’t know why, but they do.)
      And yes I stopped all the time just to take in the panels! I don’t mind that, but it’s true that it’s not a quick read at all for being a graphic novel

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve always wanted to check out Monstress because of its beautiful art, but I didn’t know it’s also queer??? I gotta move it up my TBR. Bloom and Laura Dean are already on my TBR, and it’s so nice to know you’ve enjoyed them! I’m very excited to get to them now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it isn’t promoted as a queer book because until the third volume the nature of Maika and Tuya’s past relationship isn’t explicitly stated, so one might miss that Maika is queer if they only read the first two? I mean, it seemed pretty clear to me from the beginning, but I was looking for it.
      And I hope you end up liking Laura Dean and Bloom!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the recommendations! I haven’t read any of these, but monstress has been in my hand in the shop so often haha!

    (Www.evelynreads.com)

    Liked by 1 person

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