Amelia's Top Ten Queer Graphic Novels

Updated: Jun 26, 2021



Queer representation in media is so rare and so often only shows the same small slice of our community. In my humble gay opinion, graphic novels are leading the media revolution of including queer stories. I've compiled a list of some of my favorites across a wide variety of graphic novels and comics. Some came out as recently as this year, while others give you a sense of just how far queer representation has come.

TOP TEN QUEER GRAPHIC NOVELS


1. My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris

(for ages 16 and up)

This would also be at the top of my favorite graphic novels list in general. The story is set against the backdrop of 1960's Chicago and follows a young girl's investigation of her neighbor's murder. The artwork is unparalleled in detail and visual storytelling. Ferris perfectly captures what it's like to be young, confused, and queer... sometimes you can't help but see yourself as a monster.

If you find yourself not wanting to read graphic novels because they can't live up to your classic literature expectations, I highly recommend giving this one a shot.




2. Snotgirl by Bryan Lee O'Malley and Leslie Hung

(for ages 13 and up)

You've probably (at least) heard of Scott Pilgrim, well this is the author's newest series as he works with a stunning new illustrator, Leslie Hung. Snotgirl is the story of a social media superstar as she deals with her complicated personal life filled with secrets (including her horrible, ugly allergies). Snotgirl is my current favorite on-going series. I'd highly recommend it if you're looking for a fun read with strong, unique characters.










3. Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro

(for ages 16 and up)

What could be more timely than a queer, feminist, anti-prison graphic novel? Bitch Planet is an incredibly relevant read that is Orange Is the New Black meets dystopian B horror movie. I'd recommend this one to anyone who's feeling practically angry at the world and needs to satisfy their feminist Image Comics scratch.













4. Paper Girls Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang

(for ages 16 and up)

Paper Girls combines all of the things I love most in media: set in the 1980s, time travel, a strong group of female friends, gay love interests, the end of the world, and of course, delivering newspapers. There is a film adaption of this series in the works, so I highly recommend jumping on this read and being ahead of the curve. Basically, if you loved Stranger Things, but also wish it was gayer and had more female characters I'd give this a read.










5. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

(for ages 15 and up)

I feel any queer book list would be incomplete without Fun Home. It is a graphic memoir of the cartoonist, Alison Bechdel, life. The book also inspired the hit Broadway musical of the same name. Fun Home isn't a light read but the story is so specific and universally queer at the same time. I think Fun Home is the first time that many young queer women see themselves reflected in a book.










6. Queer: a Graphic History by Meg-John Barker

(for ages 16 and up)

Okay so now you've read (and probably lived through) several queer stories, but you're thirsty to understand all these complicated feelings around sexuality and gender. Queer is a great starting point to understand basic queer theory and history. If you've taken more than one queer theory class in college, I'd probably only skim through this one. However, it is a great starting point for anyone trying to understand our community's history and theories. A great gift for the young queer in your life.







7. My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Kabi Nagata

(for ages 16 and up)

A Japanese autobiography of a young woman trying to understand how to be an adult while dealing with mental health struggles and understating her sexuality. The book reads like a personal diary during extremely low points in her life. Watching the lead character deal with her loneliness will help everyone feel less alone in their own challenges. I think all of us in today's world feel some kind of isolation and loneliness, Nagata's story faces that head-on.







8. Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

(for ages 14 and up)

What's better than a little summer camp romance? Honor Girl is a memoir of Thrash's struggles to fit in at her southern Christian sleep away camp. Of course, things get even more complicated when she falls for a female counselor. The novel perfectly captures the frustration that comes with being a teenager. The illustrations complement the 90s, teenage, diary vibes, and make the story all the more intimate. More than anything, this fulfilled my deep need for a queer summer romance story.





9. Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel

(for ages 16 and up)

This comic strip ran for 25 years so there's a lot of content to take in here. I recommend the Esstional collection. I think the best way to describe Dykes to Watch Out For (DTWOF) is if The L Word was a comic strip and was way better written, or really is if The L Word was a comic strip it would be Dykes to Watch Out For -- DTWOF started in 1983. It's known for being the earliest ongoing representation of lesbians in media. DTWOF is not only a fun read with a great group of queer women but also an important read to understand queer representation. Have you heard of the Bechdel test? Well yeah, that was popularized through a conversation that happened in this comic series.



10. Maggie the Machanic by Jaime Hernandez

(for ages16 and up)

Honestly, I have some complicated feelings about Maggie the Machanic. The characters are unabashedly queer, Latina, poor, complicated, punks. This series also started in the 80s and feels important to read to understand where we started with queer and female representation. This work is also important to indie comics in general. The storylines are so fun and unique, but the way women are drawn in the series is a little uncomfortable. In fact, if you're writing a paper on the male gaze I'd start right here. This work was incredibly progressive for its time, taking common sci-fi tropes and placing women in the lead roles was daring and unique. I think there's a lot to be learned from reading this series, but also probably don't go into it expecting an amazing feminist portrayal of women's bodies.


Remember to shop at your local comic book stores when possible!

193 views0 comments