Last year I read so many awesome graphic novels with girl leads. I loved seeing girls cast as action heroes and adventurers, and watching them find themselves and come of age. I’ve included graphic novels – new and old – with female leads that I hope to get my hands on soon! How many of these have you read? What else should I add to my TBR?
Alison Bechdel is an iconic cartoonist well-known for her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. Her two graphic memoirs apply a psychoanalytical lens to her stranger-than-fiction childhood to paint an intricate portrait of her parents. Considering how the characters and themes link the two narratives, they are better when read together! These memoirs will fascinate lovers of literature with references to great writers, and engross readers who enjoy beautifully structured family biographies. Her perceptiveness left me in awe.
Bechdel’s art is always worth taking the time to appreciate. She uses only one colour (greyish green in Fun Home and red in Are You My Mother?) as a wash over her greyscale illustrations. I was fixated admiring the detail in every frame, and how text and art support each other to articulate meaning more powerfully than either could alone.
TITLE: Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me
AUTHOR & ARTIST: Ellen Forney
RELEASE DATE: November 6, 2012
GENRE: Adult Graphic Memoir
PAGE COUNT: 256
In this intimate and informative graphic memoir, comic artist Ellen Forney tells her story of battling bipolar disorder. Along the way, she delves into the origins and issues of the “crazy artist” stereotype, and rewrites her own identity as a creator with mental illness. Most of all, Marbles is for readers who want insight into the long-term challenges of living with bipolar disorder.
TITLE: American Born Chinese
AUTHOR: Gene Luan Yang
PUBLISHER: First Second
RELEASE DATE: September 1, 2006
GENRE: Junior Graphic Novel
PAGE COUNT: 240
Fusing mythology with a contemporary coming of age story, American Born Chinese confronts Asian stereotypes and cultural alienation. These topics may sound heavy, but Yang weaves his story around these themes effortlessly, like a present-day Aesop’s fable while remaining fresh and fun.
Jin Wang is the only Chinese American at his new school. When the new kid from Taiwan tries to befriend him, Jin is scared that being seen with a FOB (Fresh Off the Boat) will destroy his chances of fitting in. Meanwhile, cool all-American teen Danny is scared his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee will ruin his rep with his popular crush. Continue reading
AUTHOR: Raina Telgemeier
RELEASE DATE: September 13, 2016
GENRE: Junior Graphic Novel
PAGE COUNT: 256
Ghosts is a heartwarming graphic novel that celebrates life… even after death. Featuring a cast of differently abled and racially diverse characters, it is a colourful and timely story that will inspire conversation between parents and junior readers.
Cat is an introvert while her little sister Maya loves to sing and dance her heart out. However, Maya’s cystic fibrosis means she is often out of breath. When their family moves to the coastal town of Bahía de la Luna for Maya’s health, Cat is sad to swap sunshine and friends for a foggy town obsessed with the afterlife. After all, ghosts aren’t real… Right? Continue reading
HEAD WRITER & ARTIST: David W. Mack
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics
RELEASE DATE: 2001 – 2008
The Kabuki series opened my eyes to the boundless potential of the graphic novel genre. Not only is the plot the definition of epic, but its gorgeous art style destroys expectations. The core of Kabuki is personal transformation – rewriting one’s identity, history, and culture to live a new narrative. It explores the binary of inner/outer self, with the motif of masks to protect/represent true self. I’ve lost count of all the times I’ve raved about this series to friends. It is an unforgettable contribution to the “war of art”. Continue reading
TITLE: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
AUTHOR: Marjane Satrapi
RELEASE DATE: 2000
GENRE: Graphic Memoir
PAGE COUNT: 153
Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s first person account of growing up as a politically active girl in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. While giving readers insight into life during that time, what stood out to me most was how coming of age goes hand-in-hand with developing new ways of seeing the world.
In Persepolis, Marjane is a hotheaded young girl. With the unfiltered honesty of a child, she is outspoken with her political opinions. She is never afraid to stand up for what she believes, even to the point of putting herself in harm’s way – she’s no stranger to death, having witnessed bombings, stabbings, and executions of political refugees. Continue reading
TITLE: The Plain Janes
AUTHOR: Cecil Castellucci
ARTIST: Jim Rugg
RELEASE DATE: May 2, 2007
GENRE: Graphic Novel, Young Adult Fiction
PAGE COUNT: 176
The Plain Janes is the delightful story of how art changed a small community’s outlook on life. With media constantly encouraging us to fear the unknown, this book reminds us that opening our eyes to everyday beauty can save our sanity.
After she survives a bomb attack, Jane’s family relocates from the city to the suburbs. At her new high school, she finds her tribe: Jane the theatre lover (TheatreJane), science whiz Jayne (BrainJayne), and Polly Jane (SportyJane). Continue reading
AUTHOR & ARTIST: Mirranda Burton
PUBLISHER: Black Pepper Publishing
RELEASE DATE: 2011
GENRE: Adult Graphic Novel, Short Memoir
PAGE COUNT: 96
Hidden is a powerful introduction to disability narratives. As the first book I’ve read representing adult intellectual disability, it lays the foundation for me to engage with the topic with better understanding and compassion. Importantly, it opened my eyes to the key issues surrounding adult intellectual disability. Continue reading