If you love Spinning or are still trying to get Firefly back on the air:
On A Sunbeam
by Tillie Walden
An epic story of women, space travel, and lost love. A spaceship crew flies in a giant goldfish-shaped ship through the deepest reaches of space trying to rebuild parts of the past, which mirrors new crew member Mia’s personal reasons for joining this team. Oscillating between past and present, this beautiful graphic novel will stay with readers well past the final panel. From The Atlantic‘s review,
With On a Sunbeam, Walden has created a science-fiction universe that is about women, queer love, old buildings, and big trees. It may piss off science-fiction purists. Walden is loose with convention. Her characters breathe in space all the time. This is a choice she defends nonchalantly: “It’s my world. My rules.” And it is. The most endearing aspect of On a Sunbeam is the confidence the narrative has in the world it exists within. The fish-shaped spaceship becomes a silent character, its face seemingly straining as it flies. Walden doesn’t create fake scientific-sounding explanations for why the ship is shaped this way—it just is.
For fans of Spirited Away and other Studio Ghibli work, check out:
The Prince and The Dressmaker
by Jen Wang
There’s been an undeniable boom in YA graphic novels in the past decade, thanks in no small part to Raina Telgemeier, and stories about identity and love are tentpoles for that demographic. This shift in the industry toward YA readers has allowed for emotional and intimate stories about individuals struggling to find themselves in a world that might not want them to, and that kind of story resonates with teens and adults alike. The Prince and The Dressmaker is not the only book in that category, but it is one of the best examples. The pacing and structure will feel familiar to people who love Miyazaki movies and writers like Tamora Pierce and Mercedes Lackey, and Jen Wang’s art and skill with characterization and expressions take the book to even greater heights. It’s a combination of Howl’s Moving Castle and Rapunzel, but this time it’s the prince that’s stuck in the castle and needs help getting out.
For fans of Fence or actual sports, look for:
by Ngozi Ukazu
Based on the popular webcomic, Check, Please! #Hockey follows Eric “Bitty” Bittle as he navigates his transition from high school co-ed hockey, to college hockey, and the bro-tastic atmosphere that comes with it. Bitty, once a figure skater, and currently a master vlogger, is also contending with his own identity as a gay man in the world of athletics at college and beyond. This graphic novel began its journey as a Kickstarter campaign, easily funded by the scores of fans for this complex and endearing story. Now, seeing it recognized as one of the best debut works of the year, demonstrates the importance of these stories in the comics medium.
From the Publisher’s Weekly review,
This series opener collects the drama, mishaps, successes, and romance of Bittle’s first two years at college from Ukazu’s webcomic of the same name. The art relies on thick linework and facial shots to tell the story, playing to Ukazu’s knack for pithy, personality-showing dialogue. Ukazu blends a series of tropes (coming-of-age, coming out, an outsider finding acceptance) into one coherent, amusing tale.
For everyone, but especially those who prefer romances where everyone is over 40:
By Tee Franklin, Jenn St-Onge, & Joy San
A love story spanning four decades and multiple generations. Featured on NPR’s Best Books of 2018, Newsweek‘s Best Comic Books of 2018, The Advocate‘s Best LGBTQ Graphic Novels of 2018, and more. From the School Library Journal Starred Review
Equally heartwarming and heartbreaking, this roller-coaster romance is a powerful tribute to social change across generations—and a reminder to today’s teens about the long struggle for LGBTQ rights. When Hazel comes out to her family as bisexual, James starts to reveal his own hidden past. The text directs readers to online bonus content to find out his secret… St-Onge’s art is cinematic and expressive, brought to vivid life by San’s rich colors, and seamlessly connected to Hazel’s emotional states. … VERDICT This tender, beautifully rendered coming-out tale deserves a place in all graphic novel collections.
For those who think Valentine’s Day is silly but know that love never is:
Love is Love
Edited by Marc Andreyko
Each June CBLDF talks about this important anthology because Love Is Love offers its dedication and proceeds to the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando. It is a testament to both the force of good comics can be as well as the power of using narrative and art to begin the healing process in a community. NPR’s reviewer Glen Weldon aimed to review this anthology, but landed on more important truths in the process.
It’s the attempt to do something — to create, to make change, to comfort each other — that matters. It’s all we ever have, in the wake of tragedy. It’s all we can do. That dogged attempt is Love is Love’s true subject: These pages are filled with rage, and sadness, and frustrated helplessness, and sympathetic concern, and a defiant determination to take action. It’s real and it’s raw-throated and it always risks going too far, and spiraling into maudlin kitsch. But again: so what? If it didn’t take that risk, it would be safe, and tasteful, and not remotely worth doing. One last thing: It seems only fitting that the most effective, most moving, most galvanizing page to be found in a comics anthology that contains so many diverse narratives and colorful imagery should be its final one, a page that contains no comics at all. It’s a list of 49 names.