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
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
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
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
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?