Whilst comic books and graphic novels used to be the sole domain of brightly coloured heroes and odd villains, the industry has expanded over the decades, and independent comics are more popular than ever, with more and more books that don’t fit into the superhero mould becoming best sellers. But it can still be hard to find comics that showcase LGBTQ+ content. Well, here are five titles that you absolutely need to check out.
The Deep And Dark Blue by Niki Smith
After a political coup sees twins Hawke and Grayson having to flee their family home, they need to find somewhere to hide away from those who want to kill them in order to take over the kingdom.
Donning disguises as Hannah and Grayce they take refuge with the priestesses of The Communion of the Blue. Whilst Hawke spends his time plotting ways to take back his home and yearns for the day he can throw off his disguise, Grayce discovers that she’s never been happier, and realises that her old life as Grayson was the real disguise she had to wear.
READ MORE: Cowboys – Film Review
The Deep And Dark Blue is a fantasy story filled with political machinations, as well as some subtle magic, but at its heart it’s a story about self discovery and learning to become yourself. Grayce’s journey to realising that she was always supposed to be a girl is genuinely beautiful, and the moment where she comes out to her brother literally made me cry. The message of acceptance and love within the pages of this book make it one I’ll come back to time and time again.
You Brought Me The Ocean by Alex Sanchez
Jake Hyde lives with his single mother in the desert town of Truth or Consequences in New Mexico, far from the ocean. Despite this, he yearns to be near the water, and is planning to leave his hometown to attend college on the coast.
As Jake figures out how he’s going to reveal his life changing plans to his mother, and best friend Maria, he is shocked to find that he’s attracted to Kenny, captain of the swim team. Not only that, but he’s been hiding strange powers that appear whenever he touches water.
You Brought Me The Ocean is actually a re-imagining of the origin story of Jackson Hyde, also known as Aqualad. Originally introduced during the comic event Brightest Day in 2010, the character would go through some changes over the years and eventually come out as gay.
READ MORE: But I’m A Cheerleader – Throwback 20
Alex Sanchez changes Jake’s backstory, having him realise his sexuality during his final days in high school, and the drama that comes along with it. Despite being a story about a superhero, his powers and the broader DC universe don’t play much of a part in this story, and it’s focused instead on a very real and relatable young man. Even if you’ve never picked up a superhero book and have no desire to, this is a comic that anyone would fall in love with.
How To Be Ace: A Memoir of Growing Up Asexual by Rebecca Burgess
Asexuality can often be overlooked, or outright denied to exist. People will turn around to asexual people and tell them that they’ve ‘not found the right person yet’, or that they’re ‘being too picky’.
There are even people within the LGBTQ+ community who will deny Ace folks exist. This is why a book like Rebecca Burgess’ How To Be Ace are really important.
An autobiographical book, it tells Rebecca’s story as she navigates her life trying to figure out her sexuality. Because of how little asexuality is talked about Rebecca spends a great deal of the book unsure if she’s ‘normal’, and it’s as much about her journey to understand it herself as it is getting others to too.
READ MORE: I Am Samuel – Documentary Review
However, thanks to books like this, asexuality is becoming more and more recognised, and this is the perfect graphic novel to help young people figure out their own sexuality, and if they too might be ace.
Girl Haven by Lilah Sturges
Three years after Ash’s mother disappeared they make friends with a group of girls at their school. It turns out that the three of them are part of the school’s Pride club, and invite Ash to hang out with them.
When they go to spend time at Ash’s house they discover a load of stuff that Ash’s mother left behind, costumes and books about the magic kingdom of Koretris. The four friends try one of the magic spells in the books and find themselves transported to Koretris, which is odd as only girls are supposed to be able to go there, and Ash was born a boy. As the four of them travel across the magic land trying to find a way home, Ash begins to question if they were ever really a boy at all.
Having previously found fame writing Lumberjanes, which also has some great queer representation, trans author Lilah Sturges decides to make a book about not only discovering your queer identity whilst still a teen, but coming out as trans too. The fact that it’s all set in a magical kingdom with sword wielding rabbit people, ancient prophecies, and powerful villains to vanquish just makes it even more enjoyable.
Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka
Another entry from DC Comics, this one is actually set within the mainstream universe, and is the first story under the Batwoman title.
Originally having been introduced into comics as part of the year long 52 series, where she was also written by Rucka, Batwoman may have worn a costume similar to Batman, but had no connection with the character. Instead, Kate Kane took on the heroic identity to help protect Gotham in Batman’s absence.
What makes the series stand out, other than the amazing art, is the fact that it’s the first DC title with an openly lesbian hero headlining. Plus, Kate’s sexuality is a major part of the story, as she’d previously been thrown out of the military for being a lesbian. Whilst the character might have found further fame thanks to the CW series where actress Ruby Rose took on the role, this is essentially the comic that started it all, and is the first time DC really took a chance on a queer hero in a mainstream way.