One of my favorite hobbies is reading books that make me cry. Or, like, sitting alone in the TV room and watching depressing films while sobbing into my bag of Cheetos.
I know. I’m a weirdo. But I find it cathartic. I mean, have you seen those video roundups of the saddest moments in Disney movies?? I have leaked tears and snot all over my laptop while going through those things, and afterward? I have felt cleansed.
Now that we’re all under lockdown, however, my feeling are all over the place and I need more than just a good, purifying cry to feel better. At this moment, I need to feel all of the emotions. And books help me do that in a controlled way that doesn’t leave me crying behind my sunglasses while taking a walk around my neighborhood simply because I saw a cherry blossom tree releasing its first buds.
If you could use a good laugh-cry-snort, too, I’ve got you covered. The comics below have helped me feel all of the feels in a controlled environment that only my husband has accidentally glimpsed because, well, we share a bedroom.
The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited! by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, and Carey Pietsch
Before digging into the sob stories, let me recommend a series that will have you LOLing on every page. The Adventure Zone series is the graphic novelization of a humorous D&D podcast. I’ve gushed about it in the past. Murder on the Rockport Limited! is the second book in the series. The third one is slated to come out in mid-July. (Fingers crossed!) These books with their lovable ensemble cast have me in nonstop stitches, which can be handy when you’re having a rough day managing your child’s distance learning while simultaneously keeping your career afloat and you desperately need anything to smile about. Maybe lock yourself in the bathroom to read this so the laughs won’t be interrupted.
Dear Scarlet by Teresa Wong
Now that you’ve enjoyed some belly laughs, you may be more emotionally prepared to enjoy a good cry. That’s where Wong’s graphic memoir comes in. A spare but affecting (and relatable) book about postpartum depression, it hit me right in the feels. And if you really want a transcendent emotional experience, watch this video of Wong doing a live reading-ukulele mashup at HippoCamp back in the summer of 2019. I was there IRL and her performance blew me away.
Bloodlust & Bonnets by Emily McGovern
I received an ARC of this graphic novel back in the fall and, at first, wasn’t sure what in hell was happening. Was I having some bizarre out-of-body experience? But I was soon drawn into this over-the-top-ridiculous story about a debutante desperate for adventure, a narcissistic poet, and a bounty hunter who team up against a vampire cult. (Yes. Really.) Wild premise aside, I got the most laughs from the ways in which McGovern used her characters to poke fun at romantic tropes and gender stereotypes.
Check, Please! Book 2: Sticks & Scones by Ngozi Ukazu
I was thoroughly charmed by the first Check, Please! book, which collected much of Ukazu’s popular webcomic of the same name. But I was not prepared for how emotional her second book would make me. I’m pretty sure I cried at least five separate times over the course of reading it. At its most basic level, Ukazu’s comic is a coming-of-age story about a young man (and fabulous baker) trying to fit in as he goes off to university, joins the hockey team, and falls in love. But this second book delved even deeper into themes of identity, coming out, and family—both the one you’re born into and the ones you build around you. No! You’re crying.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: To All the Squirrels I’ve Loved Before by Ryan North, Derek Charm, Rico Renzi, Travis Lanham, Erica Henderson, and Michael Allred
Reading the very last trade paperback in the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl series was always going to be an emotional experience. Several years ago, I fell for the series’ manic humor, its kick-butt protagonist, and its lovable cast of characters (Brain Drain!) and had gone full in on the fangirling. Now, it was all ending.
But this final curtain call was performed beautifully. To give a quick recap, Squirrel Girl is placed in a situation that seems impossible to overcome, giving us the chance to reconnect with all of the characters we’ve met over the course of the series. As always, both humor and heart shine through in this book, making the reader seesaw between laughs and warm fuzzies. And even in the midst of the totally wacky, the team behind this comic manages to impart heartwarming messages about endings and goodbyes and change and moving forward.
Of this entire list, this comic will truly make you feel all of the feels.