Pride Month: Graphic Novel Reading

We’re here, we’re queer, it’s been another year! These are a few of the queer graphic novels I’ve read and loved in the last twelve months, presented in no particular order for your perusal. 

Pass Me By: Gone Fishin’ by Kyle Simmers & Ryan Danny Owen
(9781988903590, Renegade Arts Entertainment, p/b, £14.99)

Gone Fishin’ is the first in a series of five, billed as an “inverted coming of age story about understanding queer identity and what happens to the stories you never tell.” In a two-tone palette the tragedy of Ed unfolds, an elderly man diagnosed with dementia who used to tour Canada with a glam rock band. You meet his friends, follow his trips to the supermarket and the GP. Nothing much happens and yet the pages are heavy with emotion that’s simmering just underneath the surface, hidden in all the conversations the characters are not having.  I’m really excited to see where this goes.

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris
(9781606999592, Fantagraphics, p/b, £35.99)

At heart, Monsters is the story of a lonely and frightened 10-year-old trying to make sense of the world through storytelling. Karen channels her obsession with pulp horror into her diary, creating a distorted and hollow-eyed cast of characters as she tries to solve the murder of her upstairs neighbour. The colours are unsettling, the barely-contained emotion practically seeps off the pages. An intoxicating mix of pulp horror, coming of age story and holocaust survivor memoir, My Favourite Thing is Monsters is not so much a genre-bender as a genre-definer, and showcases the very best of what graphic novels can do. It’s a big and heavy book in every sense, but really, I never wanted it to end.

Forward by Lisa Maas
(9781551527222, Arsenal Pulp Press, p/b, £15.99)

Forward is probably the most light-hearted thing on this list, even if it’s partially mourning the death of a loved one and moving on after breakups. It’s the story of two queer women who meet and are hesitant about opening to each other. The result is a book full of heart and love, and a lot of entertaining nods to (white, middle-class) lesbian subculture.

Luisa: Now and Then by Carole Maurel & Mariko Tamaki
(9781594656439, Humanoids, p/b, £22.99)

What if you could have a conversation with your teenage self about all the repressed queer feelings you were having way back when? That’s the plot of Luisa, a book about 32 year old Luisa miraculously coming face-to-face with her 15 year-old self. A Lot of angst and soul-searching follows, underscored by a few jokes about the nineties and teenage fashion senses. Overall, it’s a fascinating look at growing up queer, self-acceptance, and the specific challenges of being a (young) queer woman.

On A Sunbeam by Tillie Walden
(9781910395370, Avery Hill, h/b, £24.99) 

The quiet pictures, the melancholic feel of it all, On A Sunbeam is a masterpiece about love, longing, and friendship that somehow manages to fit an entire universe in 500 six-and-a-bit-panel pages. Two stories gradually intertwine: Mia as a schoolgirl, falling in love with a new girl and (not) dealing with all the messiness of love, and Mia as an adult who joins the crew of an intergalactic building restoration operation, wanting to find the girl she was in love with. Everything feels incredibly alive, from the buildings the crew and Mia restore to the endless expanse of blackness behind the school windows in Mia’s flashbacks. 

Body Music by Julie Maroh
(9781551526928, Arsenal Pulp Press, p/b, £22.99)

Body Music is a collection of snapshots from queer relationships, told in sombre, quiet colours and swooping lines. It’s not so much sad as pensive, with a lot to say about bodies, sex, sexuality, and language. Where it really stands out is in its exploration of being queer in a fairly tolerant city: the things that are ok and the things that are (still) not okay to do.

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