Happy Women’s History Month! When women started appearing in comics in the 1930s and they usually fell into two categories: the love interest or side character. When Sheena from Tarzan appeared in 1938, even though she was the alleged queen of the jungle, she mainly served as a plot device for Tarzan. But then something happened in 1941: Wonder Woman was introduced, and it was earth-shattering. By 1942, Wonder Woman had her own comic series, and the rest is history.
But is it? Sure, we love Wonder Woman, and even until this day, she still remains the perfect recipe for a hero. However, as time has shown us, there’s no one way to be the perfect hero — especially if you aren’t a man. Over the years, women have entered the comic book and publishing industry as writers and artists. They’ve used their positions to bring realistic nuisances to characters that cis hetero men can not do, and it has made comics better.
I feel that comics still have a long way to go with racial and gender equality and the equity gap. While I make a conscious effort to read comics and graphic novels written by non-men, it still isn’t enough.
And by that, I mean there should be more comics and graphic novels written by women across genres. People of marginalized genders take up a lot of space in book clubs and bookish communities both online and offline, and it would be awesome to see more of that reflected in the publishing industry — specifically comics.
However, this list has a wide range of illustrated literature (pinky finger up) for you to add to your TBR pile. Comics and graphic novels are a pleasure of mine, because on a good week I can read several issues and feel proud of myself. This list includes lesbian erotica, nonfiction history, horror, superheroes, and feminist heist stories. All of these center women and their challenges, and most are created by women. Even in fictional worlds, women navigate differently from their male counterparts. Some of these comics have a happy ending, others don’t, but each of these stories will leave you feeling inspired to change the world.
Sailor Moon Eternal Edition 1 by Naoko Takeuchi
When it comes to women protagonists in comics, Sailor Moon remains top-tier. A lot of people can see themselves in Usagi — she’s whiny, gives up quickly, and is easily frustrated. However, with a confidence boost and some magic, we can protect the universe, too. Sailor Moon continues to be the standard for all things magical girls and for that, we salute her and the rest of the sailor scouts!
Far Sector by N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell
Do you know how hard it was for me to wait for this series to release in a trade paperback? It wasn’t too hard, because the single issues were always sold out, so I just had to avoid spoilers. Jemisin brought her genius to DC Comics, and Sojourner, AKA Jo, was made. Appropriately named, Sojourner is a new Green Lantern on a sector so far away from Oa that it’s just called “Far.” Even if you haven’t read Green Lantern in some time, Far Sector is a great read for casual and hardcore fans alike.
Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys, Andrew Weiner, and Brittney Williams
Just in time for Women’s History Month, superstar singer Alicia Keys debuts an empowering graphic novel that readers of all ages can enjoy. Set in New York City, Lola lives in the projects with her brother, maternal grandmother, and father. While she hasn’t seen her mother in ten years, she’s discovering that she has some sort of power and is determined to use it for good. But she’s not the only one with powers, which means her family is in trouble.
Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts by Rebecca Hall and Hugo Martinez
Dr. Hall and illustrator Hugo Martinez deliver a strong and unforgotten lesson on the many Black women who have led slave revolts throughout history. While many of these brave women never made it into our history books, Hall dives deep into public records as well as her own family’s history to discover brave women who risked their lives for their families and communities in an effort to liberate us all. Women’s History Month would not be the same without learning about these heroes.
White All Around by Wilfrid Lupano and Stéphane Fert
This historical fiction graphic novel is based on a true story about a school in Canterbury, Connecticut. During America’s abolition movement, some northerners were joining Black Americans and embracing anti-slavery and abolition philosophies. This graphic novel follows a teacher in Canterbury who opens a boarding school for girls, but when she allows Black girls to attend, she faces a never-ending backlash from her community. As the backlash grew, so does her number of Black students, and they all stood together.
Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle
One of my favorite illustrators, Lisa Sterle, worked with Maggie Tokuda-Hall to create this awesome YA graphic novel. They combine horror and feminism to illustrate how patriarchy impacts young people. It starts when Becca transfers to a new school and is quickly accepted by the popular girls. She’s excited to hang out with them. One night, she’s with them during a full moon, and they turn into werewolves. As werewolves, they prey on boys who hurt others and display other toxic masculinity traits.
Nubia & the Amazons (2021-) #1 by Stephanie Williams, Vita Ayala, Alitha Martinez, Laura Martin, Mark Morales and Emilio López
From Living Heroes to Nubia, Stephanie Williams has proved that she is a formidable force in the comic book writing world. Williams brings new life to Nubia in this mini series that released this past October. Nubia, now the queen of Themyscira, has to protect her Amazons and protect Themyscira from the evil that lurks near.
Patience & Esther: An Edwardian Romance by Sarah Winifred Searle
When I first came across this book, I didn’t know what to expect, but I was delighted in the storytelling and art. Patience is a plush-sized country girl that must work to help her family. She meets Esther, a beautiful maid who ends up being her roommate. Together, they become close and eventually inseparable as their feelings for each other evolve. With steamy on-page scenes and an overview on the lives of suffragists, this graphic novel is for readers who enjoy erotic scenes and beautiful time periods.
Slip by Marika McCoola and Aatmaja Pandya (June 7)
Coming out this summer, Slip follows Jade, who is about to attend a summer program until she finds out her best friend attempted suicide. Now Jade can’t focus on anything but her friend’s wellbeing. At her art camp, Jade tries to put her heart into her art, because the camp is important to her. She meets Mary, who is an artist with a free spirit. Jade worries if she falls for Mary and focuses all of her energy on her art that she might forget her best friend. This story serves as a great resource for queer teens and a conversation starter about mental illness.
Thirsty Mermaids by Kat Leyh
This hilarious graphic novel follows a crew of mermaids who love to have a good time by drinking. These hot girls of the sea get mermaid wasted and find themselves engaging in some aquatic magic while under the influence. Now, they are on land with humans and they don’t know how to get back to sea. Until their hangover wears off and they can recall how to get home, they have to get a job and try to fit in with the rest of the land people.
Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: The Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour (2021-) #1 by Tee Franklin, Max Sarin, Marissa Louise
Finally, we get the love story we deserve from Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. If you’ve watched the animated series on HBO Max then you already know how hilarious this run can get. Poison Ivy leaves Kite Man at the alter and her now-lover and BFF Harley is there to help her pick up the pieces. Now they both are on the run, and it makes for a fun and queer adventure with non-stop comedy.
The Banks by Roxane Gay and Ming Doyle
You know how I’d love to celebrate Women’s History Month? Cheering for smart, femme characters that try to get one over on the patriarchy. Gay delivers an action-packed story that introduces a family that has a history of being the professional masterminds behind some of Chicago’s infamous heists. With more than 50 years of experience, three generations of women come together for the ultimate revenge.
Jessica Jones: Alias Omnibus by Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos, David Mack, Bill Sienkiewicz and Mark Bagley
Now that the multiverse is here, it’s time to bring back my girl Jessica Jones. The brawling antihero who can kick ass while drunk recently released an omnibus in December. The collection includes all of the Jessica Jones stories in one, so you can now marathon read it just like you did the Netflix series.
Faith: Hollywood & Vine Deluxe Edition (Faith, 1) by Jody Houser Francis Portela and Marguerite Sauvage
Faith is a plush-sized superhero by night and reporter by day. Nobody knows about her superhero powers because she is unsuspecting, and honestly, that is what makes her great. This volume is a perfect introduction to her character and her adventures. We need more fat femme superheroes, and Faith is a great example of what representation looks like.
The Hazards of Love Vol. 1: Bright World by Stan Stanley
Amparo decided to make a deal with a talking cat. The deal was to offer a drop of their blood and they will become a better person and student. Instead, the cat takes their body and becomes Amparo. Now Amparo is trapped and trying to escape her imprisonment of dark and evil spirits. Did I also mention this story has a lesbian mafia, too?
If you are looking for more comics and graphic novels that are coming out this year, check out this post .