With Valentine’s Day (and Galentine’s Day) just around the corner, February seems like a good month to write a Women in Comics post about books that are focus on love and relationships. Whether this means romantic love (or the lack thereof) or strong friendships, many women have created comics that focus on real or fictional relationships. Check one out to get in the spirit of the season!Soppy: A Love Story by Philippa Rice – In this volume, Rice tells the story of her relationship with her boyfriend through red, white and black images. Told through short standalone comics that form snapshots of their life together, the book alternates between funny, cute and poignant. The art style is a unique one that fits well with the stories Rice is telling and makes the book approachable to even those who do not frequently read comics.
Little Fish by Ramsey Beyer – This memoir focuses on the author’s first year at college. After a lifetime in a small town in Michigan, Beyer decided to move to Baltimore at age 18 to attend art school. In this book, she chronicles this time through a combination of comics, lists, and journal excerpts. Some of the pages are designed as traditional graphic novels and others incorporate elements of collage and typed text to create a personal look at this year in her life. Over the course of the book, readers watch Beyer grow, expand her horizons, and form relationships with her new roommates and classmates and even meet and fall for her first boyfriend. It is a relatable and engaging look at the transition from high school to college.
Festering Romance by Renee Lott – Janet is a college student who shares her apartment with her best friend Paul. While this might sound ideal, there’s just one small problem: Paul is a ghost. When Janet’s friend Freya forces her to go on a blind date, she’ll have to step outside her comfort zone to build a new relationship. But, more importantly, she’ll have to learn how to juggle her ghostly best friend with a new boyfriend.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan with artwork by Fiona Staples – Though most may think of Saga as a science fiction story or a war story, at its heart it is the love story of soldiers on opposite sides of a war who fall in love and must run away to protect their new family. Combining stunning artwork with a compelling story that may be set in an alien world but is relatable to readers everywhere, this book will not disappoint those who are already fans of Vaughan and Staples’ work and has already brought them many new fans. The series is rated for readers aged 17+.
Alone Forever by Liz Prince – In this volume, Liz Prince collects short comics on a range of topics related to relationships, crushes, social awkwardness, friendships, and sometimes preferring a solitary life or a relationship with your cat. Though the comics all share Prince’s style of writing and art, they vary in tone, incorporating humor and emotional insight by turns.
Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy by Fumi Yoshinaga – In this autobiographical manga, author and artist Fumi Yoshinaga takes a self-deprecating look at her life as seen over the course of restaurant outings. Each section of the book shows Yoshinaga and her friends going to various restaurants, which offers a unique window into those she spends time with and her love affair with food. Though the food is a central portion of the story, readers also learn a lot about Yoshinaga’s life and her friendships as she turns an unrelenting eye on herself and her own foibles. All of the restaurants included in the book are real and the book also includes information to help readers plan a trip to any of the restaurants.
I Think I Am In Friend-Love With You by Yumi Sakugawa – This small volume is an ode to the idea of loving someone as a friend rather than romantically. It takes the form of a letter from one character to another confessing a desire for a close friendship that reminds me of the concept of “bosom friends” from Anne of Green Gables. It is a sweet story with unique artwork that will appeal to anyone who understands the desire of the love one feels for one’s closest friends.
Though these books all focus on relationships, they are otherwise very different in terms of art style, genre, and tone, so I hope it offers something for everyone. And, I’m sure I have missed many great relationship comics, so let me know about your favorites in the comments!
– Carli Spina, currently reading Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein