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Romance Bad: Comics and Graphic Novels for People Who Hate Valentine’s Day

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Eileen Gonzalez

Contributing Editor

Eileen's primary literary love is comic books, but she’s always on the lookout for her next literary adventure no matter what form it takes. She has a Bachelor's in media studies, a Master's in digital communication, a smattering of published short stories, and a seriously cute dog. Follow her on Bluesky.

Personally, I’m neutral about Valentine’s Day. Any excuse to eat chocolate is a good excuse, but as someone who has zero interest in romance and no particular affinity for flowers, the holiday means nothing to me beyond that.

For many people, though, Valentine’s Day is a negative experience. People of all sexualities may feel pressured to find romance in time for the big day. Others might be sad, angry, or frustrated about their love lives (or lack thereof), and this holiday serves as an unwelcome reminder of everything they feel they’re missing out on. Even if you enjoy romantic tales at other points in the year, as soon as February rolls around, they can become much more bittersweet, or even upsetting.

In short, there are plenty of perfectly good reasons why someone might become a Valentine’s Scrooge. These comics are for those people.

We here at Book Riot have spotlighted romance comics and romance manga, but comics with little to no romance deserve love too! I took the “no romance” idea in several directions: some of these comics simply don’t mention it very much, while others star characters who are recovering from a bad romance or just aren’t interested in the mushy stuff, period. I hope you find something to make this relentlessly romantic time of year a little more bearable!

Jughead Vol 2 cover

Jughead Volume Two by Chip Zdarsky, Ryan North, and Derek Charm

Can’t have a no-romance list of comics without everyone’s favorite aromantic bottomless pit, Jughead Jones! I picked Volume Two because this is the one where Jughead successfully fends off Sabrina the Teenage Witch’s advances while still keeping her friendship, and also when he shames Archie for some inadvertent acephobia with just a look. It’s great.

Onion Skin cover

Onion Skin by Edgar Camacho

After breaking his hand and losing his job, Rolando falls into a funk, unsure of what he wants to do with his life. Then he meets Nera, a woman with whom he shares many interests — and a lack of purpose, which they ameliorate by fixing Nera’s busted-up food truck and going into business for themselves. No romance in this one: just two lonely, directionless people finding their purpose in life.

Hidden Heartbreak cover

Hidden Heartbreak by Emma Lee

Even the most promising romance could end up breaking your heart. This graphic memoir follows one ill-fated relationship as Lee learns to admit that things have not turned out as she hoped, let the past go, and recover emotionally. All of that makes Hidden Heartbreak a great read for anyone still struggling with a break-up.

I Want to Be a Wall by Honami Shirono cover

I Want to Be a Wall by Honami Shirono

A lavender marriage is one in which a man and a woman marry to cover the fact that one (or both) of them is queer. This sweet manga features such a marriage between Yuriko, an asexual Boys Love manga fanatic, and Gakurouta, a gay man in unrequited love with his best friend. Though neither got married for romantic love, their affection and respect for each other only grows with time.

Harley Quinn Preludes and Knock-Knock Jokes cover

Harley Quinn: Preludes and Knock-Knock Jokes by Karl Kesel, Terry Dodson, and Rachel Dodson

Harley got her start as the Joker’s abused sidekick/moll/lover. But since then, she has increasingly learned to make her own way as a villain and/or anti-hero. In this comic, we see one of Harley’s earliest attempts to break free of the malevolent Mistah J and form her own criminal enterprise. It goes…well???

Wash Day Diaries cover

Wash Day Diaries by Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith

If you want a comic that venerates friendship more than romance, this is the one for you. It follows four young Black women — Tanisha, Cookie, Kim, and Davene — as they navigate the struggles of daily life in New York. They meet regularly to get their hair done, provide the others with moral support during challenging times, and receive loving care in return.

Unstoppable Wasp G.I.R.L. Power cover

The Unstoppable Wasp: G.I.R.L. Power by Jeremy Whitley and Elsa Charretier

Here’s another comic starring an asexual character (though alas, she has yet to come out in the comics themselves). Nadia van Dyne, the Unstoppable Wasp, is on a mission to make friends and save the world after spending her entire life in the notorious Red Room. This is a great, fun read for all ages, especially if you’ve ever felt like you don’t quite fit in anywhere.

Cat + Gamer by Wataru Nadatani cover

Cat + Gamer Volume One by Wataru Nadatani

Riko seems to have no interests beyond video games. Every day, she goes to work, does her job, and then rushes home to play as much as she can. Who needs real-life friends or romance, anyway? But when Riko adopts a stray cat, she learns that there is actually more to life than video games — and the cat learns how to be a part of a most unusual family unit!

You can also check out my list of asexual superheroes!