Eight Graphic Novels to Read This Spring

Hello Fruits! We’re four months into 2021, which seems both impossibly fast and also interminably slow, and while there’s been lots of great TV and movies to catch up with you might have missed some of the graphic novels that have been released so far this year. So, we’re going to catch you up a bit, and build some anticipation for titles that are being released by your favorite queer graphic novelists in the months to come!

"Patience & Esther: An Edwardian Romance," written and illustrated by S. W. Searle.

In January, “Patience & Esther: An Edwardian Romance” by S.W. Searle was released. “Patience & Esther” tells the story of a parlor maid and a lady’s maid, beginning in 1910, as they discover their feelings, their desires, and their agency together. This is a beautifully told story, tender in its depictions of love and sex, with genuine cultural diversity. Additionally, the way bodies were drawn and expressed was honest and kind, in a way bodies are not always treated. “Patience & Esther” includes two bonus comics at the end of the main story, one which builds upon something touched on in the main text, and the other propelling the narrative into the present.

ISBN: 1945820705
Price: $20.00
Page Count: 280

"I’m a Wild Seed," written and illustrated by Sharon Lee De La Cruz.

February saw the release of “I’m a Wild Seed: My Graphic Memoir on Queerness and Decolonizing the World,” by Sharon Lee De La Cruz. This is a hefty title for a very slim volume (coming in under 100 pages), and it addresses some very complicated and fraught issues with patience and grit, resulting in an enjoyable read that will inspire you to reflect on how patriarchy, colonialism, and oppression have informed your identity, or been enacted by you. I would recommend buying two copies of this, to share one with the friend you’re most likely to have a meaningful and difficult conversation with.

ISBN: 9781951491055
Price: $12.99
Page Count: 96

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"Red Rock Baby Candy," written and illustrated by Shira Spector.

March brought two intense releases, “Red Rock Baby Candy” by Shira Spector, and “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” by Mannie Murphy. “Red Rock Baby Candy” is a chaotic, emotional, experimental nightmare that is also a daydream that is also a prayer. If the description overwhelms you then this book is not for you. Bright colors, overlapping structures and ideas, a deliberate departure from the structure of graphic novels in order to convey a stream-of-consciousness that makes you work for the messages hidden in the tea leaves, and then devastates you by what you discover. Readers of the critically acclaimed graphic memoir “My Favorite Thing is Monsters” by Emil Ferris will recognize the barriers being torn down in this heavy reading, following in the footsteps of Ferris’ revolutionary sketchbook diary style.

ISBN: 9781683964049
Price: $29.99
Page Count: 216

"I Never Promised You A Rose Garden," written and illustrated by Mannie Murphy.

Mannie Murphy’s “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden,” in contrast, is a quiet, rigidly structured, monotone exploration, not of the history or damage of a person, but of a city. Murphy tells the story of Portland and its complicated racially discriminatory practices and foundations, while reflecting on how the life and death of River Phoenix affected their own genderqueer youth. This is a graphic novel to be savored slowly, that invites reflection on how the half page illustrations tie into the text that is handwritten on alphabet-learning lined paper, sometimes bleeding through the page.

ISBN: 9781683964100
Price: $24.99
Page Count: 232

"Our Work is Everywhere: An Illustrated Oral History of Queer and Trans Resistance," with written contributions from a number trans activists and illustrated by Syan Rose.

And that brings us to April! “Our Work is Everywhere: An Illustrated Oral History of Queer and Trans Resistance,” collected and illustrated by Syan Rose, is exactly what its title promises. These are queer and trans activists (through organizing, through art, through community) speaking about their experiences, their histories and their current work, each individually illustrated by Rose. The book itself is an oversized volume, which helps readers get lots not only in the artwork, but in the words. Their lettering looping around the images becomes a part of the art rather than supplemental to it.

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First four months down! But wait! Let’s not stop there, because there are some upcoming graphic novels that you might want to add to your TBR now, just to be prepared.

ISBN: 9781551528151
Price: $16.95
Page Count: 80

"Stone Fruit," written and illustrated by Lee Lai.

“Stone Fruit” by Lee Lai will be released in May, a beautiful and affectionate work that looks at the ways families support each other, especially at the way children can sometimes bring out the best in us. Bron and Ray are having a difficult time in their relationship with each other, but when they are in aunt mode with Ray’s niece those troubles are forgotten in the wake of joy. When it becomes clear that those playdates are the only thing keeping them together, each must confront their relationships with their families, on their own terms, possibly at the expense of their relationship. Bron, Ray, their niece, and their families are characters that encompass all that it means to feel human. They are expressed genuinely in their uncertainty, their hurt, and their healing, and invite readers to exist in those spaces too.

ISBN: 9781683964261
Price: $24.99
Page Count: 236

The Secret to Superhuman Strength, written and illustrated by Alison Bechdel.

May will also the see the return of queer graphic novel royalty (in so far as that exists) Alison Bechdel, with “The Secret to Superhuman Strength.” If you only know Bechdel because of the Bechdel test, there’s a chance you’ve never read a queer graphic novel before. Her graphic memoir, “Fun House” was critically acclaimed and resulted in a Tony-Award nominated musical adaptation that won the 2016 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. That was after already having built a success with her comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For. With The Secret to Superhuman Strength,” Bechdel turns her sharp wit and keen insight to her interest in fitness crazes through her childhood and adulthood (“I’m a bit of a fitness freak”, she tells us in the opening panels), drawing in references to philosophy and literature in a way regular readers will recognize as a Bechdel signature.

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ISBN: 9780544387652
Price: $24.00
Page Count: 240

Alone in Space: A Collection, written and illustrated by Tillie Walden.

And if that wasn’t enough, we’ve got your June pick too! Tillie Walden’s newest title, “Alone in Space: A Collection” will be released in June. This collection assembles some of the works from her early career in a single volume, which will be sure to delight fans and newcomers alike. Tillie Walden’s style is ephemeral, dreamy, and strange in a way queer souls often are as well, with ample cat-lover representation throughout. Walden’s ability to pull you into another world by relying on the uncanny in this one is a gift that will repeatedly catch you by surprise.

ISBN: 9781910395585
Price: $32.95
Page Count: 320

This is only a small selection of all the great queer stuff out there being published, and we’d love to know what’s on your TBR for the coming months. Have you already read some of these? Think we missed one of your favorites? Leave a comment or send us an email at [email protected]

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