Sad as it may be for some, summer has come to a close and the new school year is upon us. In honor of this time of the year, here is a list of great comics by women that focus on back to school, whether this means starting college, transitioning to middle school or starting over at a new institution. The books range from realistic to fantastic, but they all capture the emotions of the start of a new school year.
Giant Days by John Allison with art by Lissa Treiman – Susan, Daisy, and Esther are three university students facing all of the typical problems of relationships, school work, and living away from home. Though it is set in Britain, the themes are universal and will have appeal both for those who fondly remember college and those who are looking ahead to it. This new incarnation of the webcomic by the same name follows the same three characters as John Allison’s original series, but this time with Lissa Treiman’s artwork. Designed to be a self-contained 6 issue series, it doesn’t presuppose any knowledge of the earlier series, but it will likely leave many interested in finding those earlier stories as well.
The War At Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks – When Juniper arrives at Ellsmere, she doesn’t exactly fit right in. She is the scholarship student amongst the rich, fancy girls at her new boarding school and she can feel the differences right away. But, once she becomes friends with her roommate, things look up a bit and she has the strength and support she needs to conquer her weird, and possibly paranormal, new surroundings.
Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks – Another great option from Hicks, this book traces the potentially rocky transition from homeschool student to public school student. Maggie has grown up surrounded by her brothers while she was homeschooled, so when she is dropped into a public high school, it is a lot to take in. And that is without the ghostly visions. This book is another great combination of real high school struggles with a hint of the paranormal.
Nutmeg by James F. Wright with art by Jackie Crofts – When I saw this series described as a mix of Girl Scouts and Breaking Bad, I had to track it down. When Cassia Caraway arrives at her new school, she immediately has problems with the popular girls and makes friends with Poppy, another girl who also clashes with that crowd. Together they decide to exact their revenge by sabotaging the local brownie fundraiser. Is this a harmless prank or the first step on their life of crime?
Gotham Academy Vol 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher with art by Karl Kerschl – Gotham Academy is one of the most fun new comic series I have started recently. Set in Gotham City at a private boarding school that exists on the fringe of the city’s craziness, the series follows Olive Silverlock and her friends as they explore the mysteries of the school. With hints of the style of Harry Potter or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this series is perfect for anyone who likes mysteries and school stories.
Runaways by Noelle Stevenson with art by Sanford Greene – Though just starting, this new take on the Runaways’ role in the current Marvel event Battleworld, is a great example of school fiction in comics. Set in the Institute for Gifted Youth, Battleworld’s most prestigious school, which might just be run by a super villain, the story follows the Runaway teens as they try to figure out their places in their school and the larger world. Get in on the ground floor of this series if you love a mix of high school and superheroes!
A Silent Voice by Yoshitoki Oima – This manga is a story about the repercussions of bullying. After bullying Shoko in elementary school for her Deafness, Shoya is surprised to see her again six years later. He is still living with the after effects of his actions and must decide what to make of their meeting. This is an emotional and powerful read.
SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki – This series of comic strips set at the SuperMutant Magic Academy, which seems like a cross between Hogwarts and Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, is sure to keep you entertained. Each one is more off-beat than the one before and they combine events that seem like they could happen at any high school with the paranormal activities that only these students need to worry about. Whether you are already a fan of Tamaki’s work or not, this is a fun collection to check out.
Hopefully this list will help you find a great back-to-school read, but I am sure there are others I’ve missed. Let me know your favorite school comics by female creators in the comments!