A young, newly out friend of mine complained to me that there’s a lack of queer characters in graphic novels. I’m proud to prove her wrong.
However, growing up, I remember feeling the same way, believing that there was no graphic novel or comic book ‘out there’ for kids like me, bookish kids who felt lost, who weren’t quite sure if they were gay, straight or somewhere else on the spectrum entirely. I combed comics searching for any kind of representation until my older brother gave me a stack of Neil Gaiman’s early works, including Death: The High Cost of Living which featured a lesbian couple.
To coin a phrase, life (and my search for the perfect graphic novel) only got better.
In 1999, I paid a college buddy a mere $15 bucks for a jumbled collection of books, graphic novels, and cds. In that haul, I found SIP and promptly became hooked on GLADD-award winner Terry Moore’s epic illustrated saga about former hit-woman turned artist Katchoo and her relationship with her straight best friend Francine. Throw in a female mafia and engaging side characters and it’s easy to see why this decade-long series has been twice optioned for television. Both Clerks filmmaker Kevin Smith and Neil Gaiman are big fans. Strangers in Paradise really is that addictive. Part odyssey of unrequited love and part crime drama, Strangers in Paradise is simply amazing.
(If you missed our piece on creator Alison Bechdel, please go here.) Fun Home is Alison Bechdel’s acclaimed masterpiece, a quirky, touching coming-of-age/coming-out story about Bechdel’s relatationship with her closeted father. DTWOF, about a close-knit group of lesbians and their friends, ran for several decades.
Howard Cruse’s award-winning classic about race and sexuality during the 1960s was re-released by DC Comics last year and now features an introduction by Alison Bechdel. Toland Polk joins the civil rights movement, but hides his sexuality until a gay friend of his is brutally killed. Stuck Rubber Baby was a big hit in the UK and France, and it’s easy to see why. This unforgettable story will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.