At the comic shop I work at we had a special event last weekend that was met with much success. A “Ladies” night. A night where women and woman-identified could shop, chat and just generally geek out in an open store staffed by all female staff and attended by a local female artist. Even at my store (which is pretty damned inclusive and open) women have felt uncomfortable. It was nice to shop without the judgement or stares from other male customers and our ladies told us so.
So in the spirit of the night here are my top recomendations of graphic novels and comics that are either written or drawn by a woman or feature a fearless female as it’s main character. For the simplicity of this list, I’m going to avoid super hero books – even though several fit the bill (Ms Marvel, She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Young Avengers) and focus on “alternative” publishers such as Image and Boom.
Saga – A Romeo and Juliet type sci-fi fantasy that features one kick-ass mama who is on the run from multiple people trying to kill her all the while looking after (and breastfeeding!) a newborn baby. This book is full of sex, violence, humour and fun. Written by Brian K Vaughn (Y The Last Man, Runaways) and drawn by Fiona Staples, Saga will leave you breathless and begging for more.
Rat Queens – What can I say, I love this all-female adventurer group as they hack, slash and sass their way through a dungeon and dragon-esque world. With all the blood, sex and drug references this is not for the faint of heart but give these Queens a try and I assure you, you will be smitten. (A surefire hit for anyone who has ever played D&D)
Pretty Deadly – Kelly Sue DecKonnick brings us a Western that is beautiful and dark. The storytelling is unlike any other comic on my shelf – raw and powerful – with artwork to match. I’m not usually a fan of westerns but Pretty Deadly had me from page one – and has left me yearning for more.
Sex Criminals – Truthfully I don’t know what to say about this book. It took me by surprise-I didn’t think I’d like it. At it’s heart it seems to be about sexual awakening and our society’s opression of sexual expression. A woman finds out that when she orgasms she can…stop time…and later meets a man who can do the same. Then they turn to a life of crime using their, um, combined powers. There’s more to it than that, but I’ll let you have a Sex Criminals awakening of your own.
Castle Waiting – Truly a fable for modern times – this isn’t about princesses or knights or battles against good and evil, but about being a hero in your own home (or castle). A dysfunctional family of leftover fairy tale characters lives together looking after a somewhat lost pregnant woman. Beautifully drawn and masterfully written – this is a fav on my shelf.
This One Summer – A beautiful look into girlhood and growing up – this graphic novel was one of the most heartfelt things I’ve read this year. A must read – and all ages too. About two friends named Rose and Windy who are weathering the storms in Rose’s house – and the looming tragedy in the small summer getaway.
Strangers In Paradise – Oh how I love this book. The complications of friendship. The raw and powerful emotions. The realness of the characters (from their personalities down to their angles and curves). Terry Moore has crafted a masterpiece with SIP and if you haven’t already, I URGE you to give it a read. There’s more to it than meets the eye at first glance – more passion, more substance, more reality – than anything else I’ve ever read. I’ll be forever thankful to my friend for introducing me to it – and SIP will remain in my heart one of the comics that showed me comics were more than just mis-proportioned females in capes.
Nana – Yes, this is a manga. And if you value women in comics at all this is a manga you will read. Written and drawn by the Manga-ka Ai Yazawa (Paradise Kiss) the story about two women named Nana becoming impossible friends and the ups and downs their lives take is a rare glimpse into the Japanese music industry – but also has two of the most realistic representations of women in manga I’ve ever read. Though it doesn’t end the ride is well worth it as we wait for the creator to feel better and perhaps, someday, we’ll find out what happened to Nana and Nana.
The Wicked and the Divine – This comic only has one issue so far, but by Gods what an issue! I was drooling by the end of it for how amazing it was – I’ve been waiting my whole life for this comic. By the team that brought the Young Avengers comics I love so much how could I resist? The artwork practically sings with it’s subtle emotions and the characters are already so likeable and the ending such a twist that I cannot wait for the next issue.
Lumberjanes – A great all-ages comic about five girlfriends at a sleepaway camp who, in scooby doo (or gravity falls) style find themselves up against all manner of supernatural strangeness. It’s fun, it’s campy and it’s a perfect fit for a summer read. Three issues are out now…find them as soon as you can!
What fab, fearless females do you have on your list, and why?