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Comics/Graphic Novels

Feminist Reading Picks for Your Book Club

Hattie Kennedy

Staff Writer

Hattie is a comics scholar and obsessive reader from Brighton(ish) but living in Glasgow, Scotland where she is working towards a PhD in Canadian Studies, more specifically about Québécois comics and politics. Mostly she reads comics about other peoples’ lives because she’s nosy like that. She is an enthusiastic, if not experienced, seamstress and could win Olympic Gold Medals if only Procrasti-Sewing and Procrasti-Baking were recognised sports. A not insignificant percentage of her free time is spent worrying about whether her cats like her as much as she likes them. She is resident Quebec Comics Monkey over at Graphixia where she likes to lay claim to being more Canadian than she really is. Twitter: @HattieK

We here at Panels are taking some much needed time off; in the meantime, we’re revisiting some favorite old posts from the last 6 months! We’ll see you back on July 11 with all new posts for your enjoyment.

This post originally ran on January 12, 2016.

This week Emma Watson announced that she is starting a feminist book club and crowd sourced suggestions for the name on Twitter before settling on Our Shared Shelf.

We here at Panels thought those taking part in Our Shared Shelf might appreciate some comic book suggestions to add to their list of potential future titles. All of my suggestions were written by women and whilst they don’t all directly address the subject of feminism they all offer reflections on the experience of being a woman, stories and musings that would certainly provoke conversation about feminism.


Amruta Patil – KariAmruta Patil

This beautiful comic from an India is a story of love, friendship and loss. The book’s narrator Kari navigates the aftermath of a joint suicide attempt with her lover Ruth and the repercussions of this relationship for her life.






Maureen BurdockMaureen Burdock – Feminist Fables for the Twenty First Century

This is a beautifully drawn series of books that each addresses a contemporary issue affecting women. Burdock takes subjects such as the murdered women of Juarez in Mexico in Marta and the Missing and explores the tragic events both via the fictional story of Marta but also with portraits of the real victims of the crimes. Burdock’s books draw attention to the violence perpetrated against women around the world every single day.


Marjane Satrapi – EmbroideriesMarjane Satrapi

Even people with only a passing interest in comics know of Persepolis and if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet then please make 2016 the year in which you do so. However today I would like to draw your attention to a later book by Satrapi, Embroideries. Opening with Satrapi’s recollection of the adult women in her family sitting around the table sharing stories and memories, this is a fascinating book about life for women in Iran as told by the women of Satrapi’s childhood and recalled by her.



Castle Waiting Linda MedleyLinda Medley – Castle Waiting

Medley’s charming collection of short stories featuring characters who better belong in the pages of fairy tales is one of my favourite comics ever. From the bearded nuns to the runaway Jain these pages are populated by women who defy convention and resist attempts to force them into traditional roles. Essential and funny reading with plenty of feminist food for thought.




becoming-unbecomingUna – Becoming Unbecoming

This book is more recent but is an essential inclusion on my list. Set in the United Kingdom in the 1970s Una places her own story and experience of sexual violence against the backdrop of the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper. Reflections violence, sex, societal expectations and what it means to be a woman in 1970s Britain fill the pages of this moving and insightful book. The geography of this comic might be very specific to the United Kingdom but the reflections on gender, identity, sex and feminism will provoke a rich vein of discussion for any book group.



Julie Doucet

I am a big fan of Julie Doucet and her autobiographical comics such as Dirty Plotte and My New York Diary. Vocal about life as a woman and the physical and emotional realities of this experience her books would be perfect reading fodder for this book group. I also think Bitch Planet and Lumberjanes would make for super interesting choices, they justifiably get a lot of love around here. Kate Beaton’s comics, either on her website or in Hark! A Vagrant or in Step Aside Pops, would lead you down all sorts of discussion paths about women in history, literature and popular culture. I’m also really keen to read Amandla Stenberg’s Niobe as I think it might sit very well on this list


What comic books would you include in a Feminist Book Club wishlist? Have you read any of my choices? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments below!