If you haven’t read any graphic novels lately, where have you been? In addition to telling meaningful stories, many graphic novels include stunning and heartfelt artwork, often made by the authors themselves.
Graphic novels can be quite engaging, beautifully illustrated, and just fun to read for readers with a variety of interests. They have been growing in popularity over the past several years, and I’ve had the pleasure of reading some amazing ones. Here’s a list of great graphic novels made by LGBTQIA+ creators.
The Magic Fish, by Trung Le Nguyen
Goodreads description: “Real life isn’t a fairytale. But Tiến still enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents from the books he borrows from the local library. It’s hard enough trying to communicate with your parents as a kid, but for Tiến, he doesn’t even have the right words because his parents are struggling with their English. Is there a Vietnamese word for what he’s going through? Is there a way to tell them he’s gay? A beautifully illustrated story that follows a young boy as he tries to navigate life through fairytales, an instant classic that shows us how we are all connected.”
Trung Le Nguyen is a Vietnamese-American illustrator and comic book artist living in Minnesota. He received his BA from Hamline University in 2012, Majoring in Studio Art with a concentration in oil painting and Minoring in Art History. He has contributed work for Oni Press, Boom! Studios, Limerence Press, and Image Comics. He is fond of fairy tales, kids’ cartoons, and rom-coms of all kinds. The Magic Fish is his debut graphic novel.
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, by Mariko Tamaki
Illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
Goodreads description: “All Freddy Riley wants is for Laura Dean to stop breaking up with her. The day they got together was the best one of Freddy’s life, but nothing’s made sense since. Laura Dean is popular, funny, and SO CUTE… but she can be really thoughtless, even mean. Their on-again, off-again relationship has Freddy’s head spinning — and Freddy’s friends can’t understand why she keeps going back.”
Mariko Tamaki is a Japanese-Jewish writer, playwright, activist and performer living in Toronto, Canada. She is the co-creator of the New York Times bestseller This One Summer with her cousin Jillian Tamaki, which received Eisner and Governor General awards, as well as Caldecott and Printz Honors.
On a Sunbeam, by Tillie Walden
Goodreads description: “Throughout the deepest reaches of space, a crew rebuilds beautiful and broken-down structures, painstakingly putting the past together. As new member Mia gets to know her team, the story flashes back to her pivotal year in boarding school, where she fell in love with a mysterious new student. Soon, though, Mia reveals her true purpose for joining their ship—to track down her long-lost love.”
Tillie Walden is an illustrator and cartoonist from Austin, Texas. She has received an Eisner Award nomination and two Ignatz Awards for her early works. When not drawing, Tillie can be found walking and listening to audiobooks or asleep with a cat. Spinning is her first long form autobiographical work, and was nominated for multiple awards.
Bloom, by Kevin Panetta
Illustrated by Savanna Ganucheau
Goodreads description: “Now that high school is over, Ari is dying to move to the big city with his ultra-hip band—if he can just persuade his dad to let him quit his job at their struggling family bakery. Though he loved working there as a kid, Ari cannot fathom a life wasting away over rising dough and hot ovens. But while interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector, an easygoing guy who loves baking as much as Ari wants to escape it. As they become closer over batches of bread, love is ready to bloom . . . that is, if Ari doesn’t ruin everything.”
Kevin Panetta is a Washington, DC based comic book and graphic novel writer. He has written licensed children’s comics from Boom! Studios. His first creator-owned series, Zodiac Starforce, debuted from Dark Horse Comics in August 2015.
Heartstopper, by Alice Oseman
Goodreads description: “Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more? Now, he’s in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore. Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him.”
Alice Oseman is an author and illustrator from Kent, England. She has written four YA contemporary novels, Solitaire, Radio Silence, I Was Born For This, and Loveless. She is also the creator of YA romance webcomic Heartstopper, which has been running since 2016, and was recently published in physical form.
Snapdragon, by Kat Leyh
Goodreads description: “Snap’s town had a witch. At least, that’s how the rumor goes. But in reality, Jacks is just a Crocs-wearing, internet-savvy old lady who sells roadkill skeletons online. It’s creepy, sure, but Snap thinks it’s kind of cool, too. Snap needs a favor from this old woman, though, so she begins helping Jacks with her strange work. Snap gets to know her and realizes that Jacks may in fact have real magic–and an unlikely connection to Snap’s family’s past.”
Kat Leyh is
The Tea Dragon Society, by Kay O’Neill
Goodreads description: “A charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons. After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.”
Kay O’Neill is a graphic novelist and illustrator from New Zealand. They are the author of graphic novels such as Princess Princess Ever After, The Tea Dragon Society, Aquicorn Cove, and more. They love to create gentle fantasy stories for younger readers.
Through the Woods, by Emily Carroll
Goodreads description: “‘It came from the woods. Most strange things do.’ Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of?) the eerie abyss. These chilling tales spring from the macabre imagination of acclaimed and award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll. Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there…”
Emily Carroll grew up in London, Ontario and currently lives in Stratford with her wife and fellow-artist, Kate Craig, with their very large cat.