I don’t have a lot of free time, but what free time I do have I often spend reading graphic novels.
I have some specific interests like science fiction and fantasy, but working at a library every day has helped me discover all kinds of new genres and interests.
I’d read graphic novels related to this topic before, but after a library patron asked me to find some LGBTQ+ related items for her child who was in the process of transitioning, I found myself incredibly impressed by all of the choices that were available.
I’ve put together this list of graphic novels with LGBTQ+ characters or themes for anyone who might be interested in the topic.
1Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau
Bloom is a classic coming of age story. It follows main character Ari, who is looking forward to moving to the big city with his band, but he can’t seem to convince his father to let him. His father wants him to stay at home and help in their family bakery. When conducting interviews to try and find someone to take his spot, Ari meets Hector who loves baking almost as much as Ari loves the idea of leaving the bakery behind – and the two develop feelings for each other.
Bloom is a lovely story with two main characters that have problems that any teenager can relate to. Combine that with a gorgeous art style and you’ve got a novel well-worth picking up. [Buy on Amazon]
2Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele
This title is a non-fiction book from activist Meg-John Barker and illustrator Julia Scheele that tells the history of queer thought and LGBTQ+ action. The book covers topics such as sexual identity, exclusion, privilege, gender and more all while discussing how views have differed and changed over the years.
Queer: A Graphic History is written and illustrated in such a way that readers can pick up and understand it easily. It’s a brilliant way to tell the history of a huge part of the world’s population. [Buy on Amazon]
3The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
The Prince and the Dressmaker has some common storytelling tropes with a beautifully written twist that readers won’t be expecting. Prince Sebastian’s parents are trying to find him a bride, but he isn’t really interested. He’s a little too busy worrying about his secret coming to light. His secret being that, at night, he dresses up in women’s clothing and takes on the role of “Lady Crystallia” who is much more confident and daring then Sebastian is in his day-to-day life.
When Sebastian hires the brilliant dressmaker Frances to make dresses for his night-life, the two become fast friends. But Frances wishes to be a well-known dress maker and creating fashion for Lady Crystallia in secret doesn’t exactly bring her into the limelight. Dealing with the complications of hiding your true self from the people you love, The Prince and the Dressmaker is a lovely story of acceptance, pride and friendship. [Buy on Amazon]
4Lumberjanes by Stevenson, Ellis, Watters and Allen
Lumberjanes tells the story of Jo, April, Molly, Mal and Ripley, a group of Lumberjane Scouts at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. Each volume follows the crazy shenanigans that the girls get into especially after realising that Miss Qiunzella’s Camp might not be a simple summer camp for girls after all; there’s something much more crazy going on that involves bear-ladies, dinosaurs and more.
Lumberjanes is a wild ride, but its art style, story, and themes are more than enough to keep readers coming back for more. [Buy on Amazon]
5The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag
When I first read through The Witch Boy I wondered why it was featured on so many queer graphic novel lists. I got used to reading graphic novels that covered sexuality in obvious ways that I’d never dealt with one that focuses on gender norms and all the complication that comes with it. The Witch Boy tells the story of Aster, a young boy in a magical world where men learn shape-shifting and women become witches. Aster has little to no interest in what this gender-based society has laid out for him and instead, wishes to become a witch himself.
When an unexpected danger threatens Aster’s home, he believes that he can help – but only as a witch. With the encouragement of his new non-magical and non-conforming friend Charlie, Aster will break the gender norms that the people in his life have cast upon him in this brave coming-of-age tale. [Buy on Amazon]
6Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill
I picked up Princess Princess Ever After a few weeks ago at the recommendation of a friend. I grabbed it from the library and read it in twenty minutes. It’s a short, silly, adorable tale that I think is perfect for any age. The story follows Princess Amira who saves Princess Sadie from a tower she has been trapped in for years. As the two begin adventuring throughout the kingdom, breaking gender norms as they go, the pair realise that they’ve found a wonderful friend in each other.
Things aren’t exactly as they seem and the two eventually have to take on a sinister force, but when they work together Amira and Sadie come to find that opposites really do attract. [Buy on Amazon]
7My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame
My Brother’s Husband is a manga series written by Gengoroh Tagame that follows the relationship between single father Yaichi, his daughter Kana, and Mike Flanagan, the Canadian husband of Yaichi’s estranged and recently deceased twin brother. It is hinted in the story that Yaichi isn’t exactly homophobic, but it was his brother’s lifestyle/sexuality that drove them apart. While Kana finds Mike to be an interesting person, Yaichi is hesitant to accept him into their family.
This story’s writing and art style along with the adorable Kana make it worth a pick up, especially for anyone who may be going through similar problems in their lives. [Buy on Amazon]
8This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki
This One Summer is a graphic novel from Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, that tells the story of best friends Rose and Windy who spend their summers at a cottage in Canada every year. Featured in America’s “Top 10 Most Challenged Books,” This One Summer covers many adult topics including the emotional turmoil that comes from girls growing up.
Despite being challenged, This One Summer remains one of the most influential stories of all time and is taught in high school curriculum all across the United States. [Buy on Amazon]
9Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe
This title is a memoir from author Maia Kobabe (who uses e/em/eir pronouns), and eir journey of self identity from childhood to adulthood. Maia grapples with how to come out to eir family, how to explain being asexual to partners and many more struggles that many people in the LGBTQ+ community deal with every day.
This book was intended to be a way for Maia to explain to eir family what it means to be non-binary and asexual but eventually Gender Queer became both a personal story and a sort of guide on gender identity. Wonderfully heartfelt and real, Gender Queer is a must-read for anyone in the LGBTQ+ community. [Buy on Amazon]
10Kim Reaper by Sarah Graley
Now this is a title I absolutely love. I discovered the joys of Kim Reaper back when it had just released its first issue. I picked it up on a whim and couldn’t wait for the full volume to be released. Written by Sarah Graley, Kim Reaper follows Kim, a part time grim reaper. Becka, your average university student, has a huge crush on her. When Becka finally gathers up the courage to ask Kim on a date she falls into a ghostly portal and interrupts Kim at her job and the two get stuck in a cat-filled, scary adventure.
Now at two volumes, Kim Reaper and Kim Reaper: Vampire Island, this series has two main characters that are both confident, cute and a little bit accident prone. It’s a joy to watch the two characters flirt their way through spooky adventures, making it a great little story for all kinds of readers. [Buy on Amazon]