Comics — formally known as “sequential art” — provide a unique form of storytelling that attracts all sorts of creators. The blending of images and text work together to express characters and nuance images in a way that’s different from normal books and poems, appealing to creators including U.S. Congressman John Lewis (March) and actor George Takei (They Called Us Enemy).
Many LGBTQ+ creators have turned to this playful art form in order to tell their stories. In a lot of comic shops nowadays, you’ll find an entire shelf dedicated to LGBTQ+ comics and writers. Here are some titles to read:
Fun Home and Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
Acclaimed feminist and namesake of the “Bechdel Test”, Alison Bechdel has been writing LGBTQ+ comics since the 80s. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic is a graphic memoir with allusions to all sorts of literary works, including Homer’s The Odyssey. Following her father’s death, Bechdel reflects on their relationship, examining not only her own sexuality, but her father’s closeted homosexuality. This work became a Broadway musical in 2014.
The companion piece Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama focuses on Bechdel’s relationship with her mother, following several narrative pathways and forms of storytelling ranging from phone calls to therapy sessions. Alison Bechdel has won many awards for her work, and should be on everyone’s list of materials to read.
Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
For the fantasy lovers out there, Montress takes you on a wild ride through a steampunk world full of adorable fox children and eldritch abominations drawn in a style inspired by Japanese manga. The protagonist, Maika Halfwolf, faces off against a matriarchal society of sorceresses. As the story progresses, Maika comes to terms with her own powers and role in an ongoing war.
Not only is Maika a queer character, but there’s a colorful cast of other characters from the LGBTQ+ community. The series explores themes of dehumanization, autonomy, power dynamics, and human connections — especially those among women and LGBTQ+ people. If you’re looking for artful world-building, colossal demons of epic proportions, and a sleek and strong gay hero, Monstress is the series for you.
Lumberjanes by multiple artists and writers
It’s campy, it’s vibrant, it’s an all around delightful explosion of gayness. This series channels energy similar to the show “Gravity Falls”, and features transgender and gay characters of all shapes and sizes. This series started out as a limited run with about eight issues, but thanks to audience acclaim grew into an ongoing comic.
Since its inception, multiple writers and artists have been brought onto the project, helping it to transform and adapt over time. This series is light-hearted and cheerful, celebrating women and the LGBTQ+ community on every page.
Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
This is the story of “boy meets boy”. Charlie, an openly gay boy attending a British all-boy high school, develops a crush on Nick, a rugby playing pretty boy. What starts as a friendly couple of classmates blossoms into a romance — but not without the usual miscommunication and mishaps. It’s wholesome, sweet, and unafraid to be self aware at times.
There’s a beauty in its modern layout and simplistic art style. Alice Oseman has written other books, tending to write Young Adult fiction covering LGBTQ+ themes. Heartstopper comes off as honest and sincere. An added bonus? It’s available online for free!
My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Kabi Nagata
A lovely manga with an aesthetically pleasing color palette of pink, black, and white, Kabi Nagata’s autobiographical work is a shockingly truthful expression of her experience. Nagata explores not only her sexuality, but the anxiety and depression she battled over the years.
This work features a simplistic art style as well, and plays off of dark humor throughout the series. Themes include risk-taking and acceptance, and Nagata illustrates both with complete honesty. If you read this, be sure to check out the sequel My Solo Exchange Diary, which delves even deeper into Nagata’s life.
The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars and Ruins of the Empire by Michael Dante DiMartino
Fans of the show will delight in these comics for a multitude of reasons. Not only does it continue the story of Korra, picking up at the end of season four, but it develops Korra’s relationship with Asami. The two characters get to embrace and evolve their feelings for each other in a more intimate manner than we see alluded to in the show.
This series does sort of require a prior knowledge of the TV show in order to understand the characters better. But it’s an important comic because it does build off of a kids show, making the characters canonically gay and showing the importance of representation in media. It shows kids that their feelings are normal and should be celebrated.
This list only offers a few titles for you to read. There’s plenty of other wonderful LGBTQ+ comics and graphic novels out there, and more being created every day. Representation in the superhero and fantasy genre continues to expand, with queer characters like Harley Quinn and Midnighter carrying their own solo titles.
Head to your local bookstore, library, or comic shop and check out some of these titles, or ask a person working there for some of their favorite titles. You’re sure to find something that strikes a chord with you and inspires you in ways you didn’t realize.
is a writer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Graduating in May 2020 with a degree in English Literature with a Writing Emphasis, Ian writes comics, poetry, and scripts. He is currently an intern for The Brain Health Magazine and aims to work in the comic publishing industry. In his spare time, Ian plays Dungeons & Dragons, board games, and bass guitar.