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The Art of LGBTQ+ Graphic Novels

By Billi Jones

In the journey of discovering LGBTQ+ literature, there are many graphic novels that tell rich and inclusive stories with beautiful illustrations to go alongside the writing. This issue we are showcasing some wonderful LGBTQ+ graphic novels – whether for the inclusive and representative worlds or the depiction of LGBTQ+ love, all of these graphic novels would make wonderful editions to your bookshelf.

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and illustrated by Wendy Wu

Nova is a witch living with her two grandmothers and learning all about magic, and, when her best friend summons her to investigate a strange wolf in the forest, she discovers that it is none other than her childhood crush Tam. Mooncakes is a magnificent story featuring an abundance of LGBTQ+ representation from Tam, who is non-binary, to Nova, who is queer, and her grandmothers, who are in a loving lesbian relationship. This brilliant representation is paired with the most engaging magical world that you truly feel a part of while reading. It is a coming-of-age tale that presents the reader with loving relationships, friendship, complicated family dynamics and a fleshed-out lore of magic – all accompanied by beautiful artwork.

The Tea Dragon Society by Kay O’Neill

The Tea Dragon Society is the first book in what has become a trilogy, with the most recent being published in June. It tells the tale of a blacksmith apprentice who meets the remaining members of the Tea Dragon Society and shows her finding an additional family in them. It’s an absolutely delightful story and has the cutest illustrative design. Alongside the fantastical environment and world full of lore, the books are sure to create an inclusive setting that is true to life in its diversity.

Bingo Love Vol. 1: Jackpot Edition by Tee Franklin, Marguerite Bennett, Gail Simone, Shawn Pryor, Alyssa Cole and Gabby Rivera, and illustrated by Jenn St. Onge, Paulina Ganucheau, Beverly Johnson and Ariela Kristantina

A graphic novel featuring a chance meeting between Hazel and Mari at a bingo game and exploring the treatment of sexuality. The story tells both the difficult aspects of coming out and being out as an LGBTQ+ individual, change in societal attitudes and the joy of being with the one you love. Bingo Love is both sweet and upsetting as it shows the reality for a lot of LGBTQ+ people – especially those from older generations like Hazel and Mari. It is a tale of love and choosing your own happiness. This edition also includes additional comics that show more about the lives of Mari and Hazel as well as those around them.

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

Of course, this wouldn’t be a feature on LGBTQ+ graphic novels without including Alice Oseman’s series Heartstopper. At present there are four volumes, with the most recent having been released in May. The story follows the relationship and lives of Nick and Charlie as they progress through their teenage years. A beautiful story that also respectfully handles mental health and features an array of LGBTQ+ characters with adorable illustrations. Heartstopper is a must read and soon to be a must watch with an upcoming live-action Netflix series. Heartstopper can be read online with three issues published per month or it can be read physically in the volumes published by Hachette Children’s.

Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker and illustrated by Jules Scheele

One of three Graphic Guides centred around gender and sexuality studies created by Barker and Scheele, Queer: A Graphic History is a perfect introduction to queer theory. Unlike the other graphic novels on this list, this serves as more of an academic and educational approach to understanding the world of queer theory. Graphic Guides provide a simplified explanation of the theories that they discuss and are great for introducing people to gender and sexuality studies. While complicated at times, Queer: A Graphic History does a brilliant job of explaining complex theories and giving the reader the foundations for further study and research on them.


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