Graphic novels and comics have enjoyed steadily increasing popularity, with sales doubling in 2021, opens a new window.
Not only are they entertaining and often quick reads, they are a unique medium that blends the narrative skills of storytelling with the emotional aspects of visual arts.
In the past, comics and graphic novels have served as an avenue for "queer coding, opens a new window," increasing LGBTQIA+ representation for readers in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. However, as attitudes have begun to change and recognize the need for diverse character representation, readers now have access to many more titles with LGBTQIA+ characters than ever before.
With that in mind, here are some of my favorite Young Adult and Adult graphic novels with LGBTQIA+ representation.
Across A Field of Starlight - Lu and Fassen come from completely different worlds, literally and figuratively. Fassen knows only struggle, warfare and domination, while Lu has had all their needs provided for. Lu and Fassen send secret messages to each other across the galaxy as they grow into young adulthood. When Fassen is betrayed by their captain and has to flee for their life, the two friends are reunited under dire circumstances.
The Girl From the Sea - Morgan is busy. She's trying to navigate high school, her parent's divorce, fighting with her younger brother, and her "close friends" may not be as close as they think they are. Morgan is also hiding a secret, that she dreams of kissing another girl. When mysterious new girl Keltie appears on the island and sets Morgan's heart aflutter, they'll both be challenged to be honest with each other and themselves if they want this relationship to work.
Life of Melody - Even fairy tale characters struggle to get to their happily ever-after. When a fairy godparent and a Beast lay claim to a child abandoned in the woods, their lives are turned upside down. Not able to work out a compromise, the two young adults find themselves moving in together to take care of this baby. The adults will need to open up to each other and acknowledge that they both have skills, and scars, that will help them to care for their daughter Melody. Sometimes the story we've been told about others isn't the whole story.
My Brother's Husband (two volumes) - After the death of his twin brother, single-father Yaichi is caught off guard when Canadian Mike Flanagan reaches out to him. Mike claims he was married to Yaichi's brother Ryoji, who became estranged from his family after coming-out as gay and leaving Japan. While Yaichi is hesitant to open up to his brother's widower, his daughter Hana immediately warms up to her uncle and the three of them begin to bridge the gap created by distance and old hurts. Together, Mike and Yaichi begin to explore the unknown sides of Ryoji's life, each sharing stories and memories of the man they loved and discovering more about the challenges posed to gay men in Japan.
The Prince and the Dressmaker - This graphic novel brings together seamstress with dreams of being a fashion designer with a prince who dreams of wearing dresses. Frances' daring fashion designs bring her trouble at work and leave her at the mercy of a secret client willing to buy her dresses. Prince Sebastian feels confined by his parents expectations and cultural expectations when dressing as a man, while experiencing freedom and a boost in confidence when dressed as Lady Crystallia. But when Frances' desire for recognition clashes with Sebastian's need for secrecy, everything threatens to come to a head.
Taproot - Blue is a ghost who doesn't mind being dead, but he hates being ignored. Hamal is a gardener and the only person who is able to see the ghosts on his island. Hamal spends his days helping out at a local nursery and working up the courage to tell Blue his true feelings. When a spooky forest threatens the ghost population and Blue is cornered by the mysterious forest guardian, it reveals more truths than the guys are willing to admit. Ghosts and gardeners and curses, oh my!
Looking for more comics and graphic novels with LGBTQIA+ representation? Check out these lists!