You know how they say that there is no one specific LGBTQ+ story? In the world of comics and graphic novels with LGBTQ+ characters and storylines, are "they" ever right! Its been a banner decade for mainstream comics to embrace what the indie comics world already knew—there are some amazing stories out there to be told. From Wakanda to interdimensional space to summer camp, check out some of my recent favorites!
As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman
Winner of the 2018 Stonewall Honor Book Award! Charlie Lamonte is thirteen years old, queer, black, and questioning what was once a firm belief in God. So naturally, she's spending a week of her summer vacation stuck at an all-white Christian youth backpacking camp. As the journey wears on and the rhetoric wears thin, she can't help but poke holes in the pious obliviousness of this storied sanctuary with little regard for people like herself — or her fellow camper, Sydney.
America: The Life and Times of America Chavez written by Gabby Rivera; illustrated by Joe Quinones, Ramon Villalobos, Ming Doyle, and Stacey Lee
Critically acclaimed young-adult novelist Gabby Rivera and all-star artist Joe Quinones unite to shine a solo spotlight on America's high-octane and hard-hitting adventures! She was a Young Avenger. She leads the Ultimates. And now she officially claims her place as the preeminent butt-kicker of the entire Marvel Universe! But what's a super-powered teenager to do when she's looking for a little personal fulfillment? She goes to college! America just has to stop an interdimensional monster or two first and shut down a pesky alien cult that's begun worshipping her exploits before work can begin. Then she can get on with her first assignment: a field trip to the front lines of World War II—with Captain America as her wingman!
Kim & Kim Volume 1: This Glamorous, High-Flying, Rock Star Life written by Magdalene Visaggio, illustrated by Eva Cabrera, Claudia Aguirre, and Zakk Saam
Kim & Kim are twentysomething besties out to make a name for themselves in the wild world of interdimensional cowboy law enforcement. In a massive "screw you" to their parents and the authorities, they decide to hijack some high stakes bounty and end up in way over their heads. A day-glo action adventure that’s bursting with energy and enthusiasm, it puts queer women and trans women front and center, with a story that embraces the absurd alongside realistic pathos.
The Backstagers Vol 1: Rebels Without Applause written by James Tynion IV; illustrated by Rian Sygh
When Jory transfers to an all-boys private high school, he's taken in by the only ones who don't treat him like a new kid, the lowly stage crew known as the Backstagers. Not only does he gain great, lifetime friends, Jory is also introduced to an entire magical world that lives beyond the curtain. With the unpredictable twists and turns of the underground world, the Backstagers venture into the unknown, determined to put together the best play their high school has ever seen.
Black Panther: World of Wakanda written by Roxane Gay and Ta-Nehisi Coates; illustrated by Alitha Martinez and Roberto Poggi
A GLADD Outstanding Comic Book for 2018! Writer Roxane Gay (Bad Feminst, Hunger) spins a Wakandan love story of tenderness matched only by its brutality. You know them now as The Midnight Angels, but in this story they are just Ayo and Aneka, young women recruited to become Dora Milaje, an elite task force trained to protect the crown at all costs. What happens when your nation needs your hearts and minds, but you already gave them to each other?
Legend of Korra: Turf Wars written by Michael Dante DiMartino; illustrated by Irene Koh
Relishing their newfound feelings for each other, Korra and Asami leave the Spirit World, finding nothing in Republic City but political hijinks and human vs. spirit conflict. A pompous developer plans to turn the new spirit portal into an amusement park, potentially severing an already tumultuous connection with the spirits. What's more, the triads have realigned and are in a brutal all-out brawl at the city's borders where hundreds of evacuees have relocated! In order to get through it all, Korra and Asami vow to look out for each other but first, they've got to get better at being a team and a couple!
Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash
Maggie Thrash has spent basically every summer of her fifteen-year-old life at the one-hundred-year-old Camp Bellflower for Girls, set deep in the heart of Appalachia. She's from Atlanta, she's never kissed a guy, she's into the Backstreet Boys in a really deep way, and her long summer days are full of a pleasant, peaceful nothing... until one confounding moment. A split-second of innocent physical contact pulls Maggie into a gut-twisting love for an older, wiser, and most surprising of all (at least to Maggie), female counselor named Erin. But Camp Bellflower is an impossible place for a girl to fall in love with another girl, and Maggie's savant-like proficiency at the camp's rifle range is the only thing keeping her heart from exploding. When it seems as if Erin maybe feels the same way about Maggie, it's too much for both Maggie and Camp Bellflower to handle, let alone to understand.
Spinning by Tillie Walden
Ignatz Award winner Tillie Walden's powerful graphic memoir captures what it's like to come of age, come out, and come to terms with leaving behind everything you used to know. It was the same every morning: wake up, grab the ice skates, and head to the rink while the world was still dark. Weekends were spent in glitter and tights at competitions. Perform. Smile. And do it again. She was good. She won. And she hated it. For ten years, figure skating was Tillie Walden's life. She woke before dawn for morning lessons, went straight to group practice after school, and spent weekends competing at ice rinks across the state. Skating was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But as she switched schools, got into art, and fell in love with her first girlfriend, she began to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fit in with the rest of her life, and whether all the work was worth it given the reality—that she, and her friends on the team, were nowhere close to Olympic hopefuls. The more Tillie thought about it, the more Tillie realized she'd outgrown her passion and she finally needed to find her own voice.
I could go on forever with more amazing graphic novels and comic books, but I think you can see I'm already out of control. So, did I miss your favorite? Let me know in the comments!