50 Must-Read Comics about Friendship

Some things you notice when you try to compile a list of 50 must-read comics about friendship:

  • A lot more is written about female friendships than male ones.
  • YA and children’s books are fertile ground for tales of friendship, both when it feels like the greatest thing ever and when it feels like the worst thing ever. But as Shannon Hale writes encouragingly in the author’s note to Real Friends, “Friendship in younger years can be especially hard because our worlds are small…If you haven’t found your ‘group’ yet, hang in there. Your world will keep growing larger and wider.”
  • If you were basing your understanding of social reality based entirely on books, you’d assume that friendship doesn’t matter past a certain age. In particular, it’s hard to find graphic stories of elderly people’s friendships—even though it would be fascinating to explore maturity and aging through the lens of peer, rather than family, relationships. Writers, get on it!

50 must-read comics about friendship. book lists | comics | comics about friendship | friendship comics

Friends with grownups (and grown-ish sorts)

Cover of Same Difference by Derek Kirk KimSame Difference by Derek Kirk Kim

“The story about a group of young people navigating adulthood and personal relationships is told with such sympathy and perception that the book was immediately hailed as an important new work.”

The Essential Dykes to Watch out for by Alison Bechdel

“Settle in to this wittily illustrated soap opera (Bechdel calls it ‘half op-ed column and half endless serialized Victorian novel’) of the lives, loves, and politics of a cast of characters, most of them lesbian, living in a midsize American city that may or may not be Minneapolis. Her brilliantly imagined countercultural band of friends—academics, social workers, bookstore clerks—fall in and out of love, negotiate friendships, raise children, switch careers, and cope with aging parents”

The Silence of our Friends by Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, and Nate Powell

“This semi-autobiographical tale is set in 1967. A white family from a notoriously racist neighborhood in the suburbs and a black family from its poorest ward cross Houston’s color line, overcoming humiliation, degradation, and violence to win the freedom of five black college students unjustly charged with the murder of a policeman.”

Nana by Ai Yazawa

“This is the story of two 20-year-old women who share the same name. Even though they come from completely different backgrounds, they somehow meet and become best friends.”

The Curse of Charley Butters by Zach Worton

“While filming a death metal music video sensitive soul Travis and his gang of misfits stumble upon an old cabin in the woods containing the archives of a disappeared artist named Charley Butters. As Travis learns more about the artist’s withdrawal, he also distances himself from the insular, macho world of the band.”

The Love and Rockets Companion by Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime HernandezThe Love and Rockets Companion by Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez

“This book has foldout family trees for both Gilbert’s Palomar and Jaime’s Locas storylines; unpublished art; a character glossary (which is handy, considering that Gilbert alone has created 50+ characters!); highlights from the original series’ anarchic letters columns; timelines; and the most wide-ranging Hernandez Brothers bibliography ever compiled, including album and DVD covers, posters and more.”

Giant Days by John Allison, Lissa Tremain, and Whitney Cogar

“Susan, Esther, and Daisy started at university three weeks ago and became fast friends. Now, away from home for the first time, all three want to reinvent themselves. But in the face of handwringing boys, ‘personal experimentation,’ influenza, mystery mold, nuchauvinism, and the willful, unwanted intrusion of ‘academia,’ they may be lucky just to make it to spring alive.”

Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi

Embroideries gathers together Marjane’s tough-talking grandmother, stoic mother, glamorous and eccentric aunt and their friends and neighbors for an afternoon of tea drinking and talking. Naturally, the subject turns to love, sex and the vagaries of men.”

Aya by Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie

Aya tells the story of its nineteen-year-old heroine, the studious and clear-sighted Aya, her easygoing friends Adjoua and Bintou, and their meddling relatives and neighbors. It’s a breezy and wryly funny account of the desire for joy and freedom, and of the simple pleasures and private troubles of everyday life in Yop City. An unpretentious and gently humorous story of an Africa we rarely see-spirited, hopeful, and resilient.”

The Complete Girls with Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto (webcomic version at Here)

“One of the most popular webcomics of all time, Girls with Slingshots’ eleven-year run followed the adventures of Hazel Tellington, Jamie McJack, and their close-knit group of friends as they unsteadily and enthusiastically navigated their twenties and beyond. Girls with Slingshots collects the entire strip in one place for the very first time, including thousands of full-color comics with never before seen creator insights and art.”

Dumbing of Age by David M. Willis (webcomic here)

“What is Dumbing of Age? It’s a book about freshmen entering college. It stars Joyce, a fundamentalist Christian who was previously homeschooled, and her unlikely new friend Dorothy, an atheist who wants to be President. They’re surrounded by a varied cast of fully-realized characters, such as Billie, the alcoholic ex-cheerleader with a Resident Assistant problem(?), and Amber, the Internet shut-in who solves her rage issues by dressing up like a superhero and fighting crime. Oh, right, and Joyce’s childhood best friend, that unflappable smartass Becky, is hiding out from her jerkbutt dad ‘cuz she was caught smooching her roommate!”

The Dharma Punks by Art SangThe Dharma Punks by Art Sang

“A group of anarchist punks plan to sabotage the opening of a multi-national restaurant by blowing it sky-high. Still reeling from a friend’s suicide and struggling to reconcile his spiritual path with his political actions, the main character Chopstick’s journey is a meditation on life, love, friendship, and the ghost of Kurt Cobain.”

The Retreat by Pierre Wazem and Tom Tirabosco

“Two friends take off for a weekend getaway to a remote mountain area to reminisce about their third friend, now gone. From mundane conversations to intimate confidences, the two remaining pals remember their departed companion, their unique friendship, and all those things that are often left unsaid, but that remain floating in the silence.”

Tales from the Clerks by Kevin Smith

“Collects the contents from the Clerks, Chasing Dogma and Bluntman & Chronic books together with one new story and a 15-page, never before reprinted story.”

Slam! by Pamela Ribon and Veronica Fish

“In roller derby you take your hits, get back up, and learn how to be a better jammer, a better blocker, and a better friend—if the competition doesn’t tear you apart!”

Aoharu X Machinegun by Naoe

“Hotaru Tachibana is a girl (though all too frequently mistaken for a boy!) with a deep sense of justice. When a classmate informs Hotaru that she was bilked out of her cash by a shady host at a host club, Hotaru immediately rushes to confront the villain only to discover that the con man in question is her new neighbor! Worse, he proposes to settle their feud with firearms! Okay, it turns out that they’re just toys, but when Hotaru is soundly defeated, she finds herself sucked into the world of survival games. Is this new world one she can actually escape??”

Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson

“Alex Robinson’s completely natural and inspiring knack for dialogue makes this story of dreary jobs, comic books, love, sex, messy apartments, girlfriends, undisclosed pasts, and crusty old professionals is one of the most delightful and whimsical graphic novels to hit the stands in years.”

 

Friends with kids

Cover of Never Goodnight by Coco MoodyssonNever Goodnight by Coco Moodysson

“The cult Swedish graphic novel that inspired the critically acclaimed Lukas Moodysson film We Are the Best!”

Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

“Maggie McKay hardly knows what to do with herself. After an idyllic childhood of homeschooling with her mother and rough-housing with her older brothers, it’s time for Maggie to face the outside world, all on her own. But that means facing high school first. And it also means solving the mystery of the melancholy ghost who has silently followed Maggie throughout her entire life. Maybe it even means making a new friend—one who isn’t one of her brothers.”

All Summer Long by Hope Larson

“Thirteen-year-old Bina has a long summer ahead of her…How Bina and Austin rise above their growing pains and reestablish their friendship and respect for their differences makes for a touching and funny coming-of-age story.”

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

American Born Chinese tells the story of three apparently unrelated characters: Jin Wang, who moves to a new neighborhood with his family only to discover that he’s the only Chinese-American student at his new school; the powerful Monkey King, subject of one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables; and Chin-Kee, a personification of the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, who is ruining his cousin Danny’s life with his yearly visits. Their lives and stories come together with an unexpected twist in this action-packed modern fable.”

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

“In 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer—the most notorious serial killer since Jack the Ripper—seared himself into the American consciousness. To the public, Dahmer was a monster who committed unthinkable atrocities. To Derf Backderf, ‘Jeff’ was a much more complex figure: a high school friend with whom he had shared classrooms, hallways, and car rides.”

Ghost World by Daniel ClowesGhost World by Daniel Clowes

“Inspiration for the feature film and one of the most acclaimed graphic novels ever, following the adventures of two teenage girls, Enid and Becky, best friends facing the prospect of growing up, and more importantly, apart.”

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

“It’s a summer of secrets, and sorrow, and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.”

Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

“Skim is Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth stuck in a private girls’ school in Toronto. Skim struggles to cope with her confusion and isolation, armed with her trusty journal and a desire to shed old friendships while cautiously approaching new ones.”

Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends by Yomi Hirasaka and Itachi

“Recent high school transfer student Hasegawa Kodaka is pathetically inept at making friends. When he comes across the brash loner Mikazuki Yozora, who typically chats with her imaginary friend, the two outsiders become the unlikeliest of allies. Realizing that they have no hope of a normal social life, the two outcasts decide to form a group called ‘The Neighbors Club’ in order to make friends and maybe even learn a thing or two about social skills.”

Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

“Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top…even if it means bullying others. Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?”

No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular! by Nico Tanagawa

“Tomoko Kuroki naturally assumed she’d be popular when she got to high school…but then cold, hard reality swooped in for the attack! Turns out all the popularity points she’s racked up in her video game dating sims are worth squat in real life, and Tomoko’s far from prepared to navigate high school! How can she possibly hope to impress her classmates when she can’t even talk to them?! A new high-school heroine is born (maybe?)!”

The Complete Peanuts Vol. 1: 1950-1952  by Charles Schulz

“Although there have been literally hundreds of Peanuts books published, many of the strips from the series’ first two or three years have never been collected before.” 

ROLLER GIRL BY VICTORIA JAMIESON coverRoller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

“A heartwarming graphic novel about friendship and surviving junior high through the power of roller derby.”

Archie’s Favorite High School Comics by Archie Superstars

Archie’s Favorite High School Comics collects dozens of excellent, full-color stories featuring Archie and the gang in all kinds of high school hi-jinx!”

The Gods Lie by Kaori Ozaki

“Natsuru Nanao, a 6th grader who lives alone with his mother, strikes up an unlikely friendship with the reserved and driven Rio Suzumura. Natsuru plays hookey from soccer camp that summer, and instead of telling the truth to his mother, he spends all his time with Rio and her kid brother at their rickety house, where a dark secret threatens to upend their fragile happiness.”

As the Crow Flies (webcomic here)

“Charlie Lamonte is thirteen years old, queer, black, and questioning what was once a firm belief in God. So naturally, she’s spending a week of her summer vacation stuck at an all-white Christian youth backpacking camp. As the journey wears on and the rhetoric wears thin, she can’t help but poke holes in the pious obliviousness of this storied sanctuary with little regard for people like herself…or her fellow camper, Sydney.”

There’s No Time Like the Present by Paul B. Rainey

“Set in Milton Keynes, in a world where time travel has at last been discovered, how is it that everyone’s life is more the same than ever before? People have access to the ultranet and can, if they want to, download music that hasn’t been written yet, movies that haven’t been filmed yet, and even, if they’re not too careful, learn the exact date and time of their own demise.”

 

Friends with heroes

Lumberjanes book coverLumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen

“What’s to Love: Lumberjanes is the hit series from the BOOM! Box imprint that features five rad ladies who fight monster baddies with the power of friendship!”

20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa

“Humanity, having faced extinction at the end of the 20th century, would not have entered the new millennium if it weren’t for them. In 1969, during their youth, they created a symbol. In 1997, as the coming disaster slowly starts to unfold, that symbol returns. This is the story of a group of boys who try to save the world.”

Bitch Planet by Kelly DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, and Robert Wilson IV

“Critically acclaimed and deliciously vicious sci-fi satire. Think Margaret Atwood meets Inglourious Basterds.”

Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona, Takeshi Miyazawa, Mike Norton, and Skottie Young

“All young people believe that their parents are evil…but what if they really are? Meet Alex, Karolina, Gert, Chase, Molly and Nico. Their lives are about to take an incredible turn. When these six young friends discover that their mothers and fathers are all secretly super villains, they flee their homes together and head straight into the adventure of their lives—vowing to turn the tables on their parents’ evil organization, the Pride!”

The Unwritten by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

“Tom Taylor’s life was screwed from the get go. His father created the Tommy Taylor fantasy series, boy-wizard novels with popularity on par with Harry Potter. When an enormous scandal reveals that Tom might really be a boy-wizard made flesh, Tom comes into contact with a very mysterious, very deadly group that’s secretly kept tabs on him all his life. Now, to protect his own life and discover the truth behind his origins, Tom will find himself having to figure out a huge conspiracy mystery that spans the entirety of the history of fiction.”

Nancy Drew by Kelly Thompson and Jenn St-Onge (available here)

“Nancy Drew is seventeen and good at everything…ESPECIALLY solving crimes. But her totally-in-control-and-obviously-running-perfectly-smooth-(but-not-really) life hits a snag when a mysterious message drags her back to the hometown she left behind. There she’ll have to find out which of her friends are still her friends, which are enemies, and who exactly is trying to kill her…and (hopefully) stop them before they succeed.”

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

“Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.”

 

Friends with animals

Cover of Good-Bye, Chunky Rice by Craig ThompsonGood-Bye, Chunky Rice by Craig Thompson

“Mister Chunky Rice be living in the same rooming house likewise myself, only that boy be restless. Looking for something. And he puts hisself on my brother Chuck’s ship and boats out to sea to find it. Only he be departin’ from his bestest of all friends, his deer mouse, I mean, mouse deer chum Dandel. Now why in a whirl would someone leave beyond a buddy? Just what be that turtle lad searchings for? I said you best read the book to find out. Merle said, ‘Doot doot.’”

Manfried the Man by Caitlin Major and Kelly Bastow

“Manfried is a stray taken in by Steve Catson, a slacker with a dead-end job and nonexistent love life. Soon Manfried becomes the Garfield to Steve’s Jon Arbuckle: lazy, selfish, and sometimes maddening in his weird human behavior. Yet the pair depends on each other to get through life’s troubles. When Manfried runs away, Steve musters his meager resources to find his best man-friend and bring him home safe. Ultimately, both Steve and Manfried realize they’re capable of so much more than they thought.”

Rover Red Charlie by Garth Ennis and Michael Dipascale

“Garth Ennis—the creator of Preacher and Crossed—delivers a story like no other, as an unlikely band of canines set out to survive in a world gone horribly mad. When a worldwide plague wipes out humanity, what happens to man’s best friend? Charlie was a helper dog and he was good at it. Now he and his friends Rover and Red must escape the bloody city and find their way in this strange, master-less new world.”

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson

Calvin and Hobbes is unquestionably one of the most popular comic strips of all time. The imaginative world of a boy and his real-only-to-him tiger was first syndicated in 1985 and appeared in more than 2,400 newspapers when Bill Watterson retired on January 1, 1996.”

Garbage Night by Jen Leeme

“In a barren and ransacked backyard, a dog named Simon lives with his two best friends: a raccoon and a deer. The unlikely gang spends their days looting the desolate supermarket and waiting for the return of the hallowed ‘garbage night’—but week after week, the bins remain empty. While scavenging one day, the trio meet Barnaby—another abandoned dog who tells them about the ‘other town’ where humans are still rumored to live. Spurred on by hunger and the promise of food, the trio joins up with Barnaby and set off into the unknown…”

Garfield Fat Cat by Jim Davis

“Witty, urbane, sassy, and downright delightful, here are the first three original books of pure Garfield collected in one packed volume. They tell the story of the feisty feline’s birth, adoption, and growth into general wonderfulness—just in case you’ve forgotten—and remind us why we loved him like we do.”

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica HendersonThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson

“The nuttiest and most upbeat super hero in the world is starting college! And as if meeting her new roommate and getting to class on time isn’t hard enough, now she has to deal with Kraven the Hunter, too? At least her squirrel friend Tippy-Toe is on hand to help out. But what can one girl, and one squirrel, do when a hungry Galactus heads toward Earth? You’d be surprised.”

Megahex by Simon Hanselmann

“Megg is a depressed, drug-addicted witch. Mogg is her black cat. Their friend, Owl, is an anthropomorphized owl. They hang out a lot with Werewolf Jones. This may sound like a pure stoner comedy, but it transcends the genre: these characters struggle unsuccessfully to come to grips with their depression, drug use, sexuality, poverty, lack of work, lack of ambition, and their complex feelings about each other.”

I Think I Am in Friend-Love with You by Yumi Sakugawa

“What’s friend-love? It’s that super-awesome bond you share with someone who makes you happy every time you text each other, or meet up for an epic outing. It’s not love-love. You don’t want to swap saliva; you want to swap favorite books. But it’s just as intense and just as amazing.”

 

Want more comics about friendship? Try:

“Awesome Comics with Female Friendships Front and Center”

“Buy Borrow Bypass: Graphic Novels about Friendship”

Sign up to The Stack to receive Book Riot Comic's best posts, picked for you
Come bag some bookish perks with Book Riot Insiders!
VIEW COMMENTS