There is a rich tradition of LGBTQ+ cartoonists and graphic novel authors, and you should read them all year long. Storytelling in comics has often been a place for voices that were suppressed, overlooked, and misconstrued, and these authors use the power of visual art and language to tell important, funny, and heartbreaking stories. So I wanted to highlight just a few titles for Pride Month and encourage you yto share your recommendations and favorites on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, by Allison Bechdel
I cannot rave about this graphic memoir enough. Fun Home was groundbreaking, along the lines of Art Spiegelman’s Maus. Bechdel tells the true story of her family home, a funeral home, and about all the secrets, memories, and tragedy found inside. This is also the story of Bechdel’s coming out, and the crucial role of literature in understanding herself and her family. Fun Home received numerous prestigious awards, and was adapted for musical theatre in 2013.
If you’ve heard of the Bechdel test, Allison Bechdel is the source. She also wrote the Dykes to Watch Out For comic series as well as Are You My Mother and The Secret to Superhuman Strength.
Lumberjanes, created by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Brooklyn A. Allen and Noelle Stevenson
This incredibly fun comics series follows a group of super cool girls through their summer scout camp as they encounter adventures and supernatural beings. The main cast includes trans and queer characters, and explicit inclusivity which is so important for a series that appeals to both adult and teen readers.
If you like Scooby-Doo and Adventure Time, you’ll love Lumberjanes, all 75 issues!
Spinning by Tillie Walden
Tillie Walden tells the true story of her child and teen years as a competitive figure skater, including a move to Texas. Walden negotiates all the familiar teen trauma, including bullying, loneliness, and romance. However, she also must learn about herself while bracing for society’s reaction to her being gay.
Spinning is a beautiful and honest coming of age story.
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Jen Wang wrote and illustrated The Price and the Dressmaker, and it is a beautiful fairy tale about the fluidity of gender and fashion. The two young characters, Frances and Sebastian, become entangled through decadent dresses and secrets. I don’t want to say anymore and give the story away. However, know that it is a sweet story very reminiscent of Cinderella.
Flamer by Mike Curato
Flamer is a young adult graphic novel about fourteen-year-old Aidan, a Filipino American boy struggling to understand all the influences on his life and identity, including being gay and raised in the Catholic Church. Further, he struggles with self-acceptance in a blazing trial by fire, Boy Scout camp. While The Prince and the Dressmaker is a sparkly fairy tale, Flamer is so down to earth and truly captures the insecurities, hopes, and mercurial nature of adolescence.
They Called Us Enemy by George Takei with co-writers Justin Eisenger and Steven Scott, and artist Harmony Becker
They Called Us Enemy is George Takei’s firsthand account of years spent behind barbed wire at Japanese internment camps during World War II. It chronicles the fears and joys of childhood in the face of institutional racism.
Takei is best known for playing Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek, but he has also spent decades advocating and fighting for human rights, especially emphasizing LGBTQ+ rights.