Boys Run the Riot, v.1 by Keito Gaku
Kodansha Comics / Kodansha USA
Publication Dates: May 25, 2021
Ryo spends his days at school and at home without letting anyone know that he is transgender. In his free time, it is only the clothes he wears that make him feel like his true self. When Jin—a new cisgender student who has to repeat the grade Ryo is in—runs into him at a clothing shop, they find that they both have the desire to wear clothes that reflect themselves. Ryo confides in Jin about his gender identity, and the two decide to start their own clothes business with Ryo designing and Jin marketing. Rounding out the group is cisgender classmate Itsuka, who is bullied for his interest in photography. The three work together to create a business that makes clothes that defy people’s assumptions about them.
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Juliet Takes a Breath: The Graphic Novel by Gabby Rivera and Celia Moscote
BOOM! Box / BOOM! Studios
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Meet Juliet, a queer Puerto Rican college student from the Bronx eager to begin her internship in Portland with white feminist author Harlowe Brisbane. Unfortunately, Juliet quickly feels overwhelmed and frustrated as she realizes there’s a lot she doesn’t know about women’s history, feminism, or even her own identity. Compounding her misery are a break-up with her girlfriend Lainie and a fight with her mother, who refuses to accept that Juliet is a lesbian. When Harlowe uses Juliet’s internship to justify her own racism, Juliet is forced to look elsewhere for community. She finds love and support in her extended family, a writing group for queer women of color, and a very cute library intern named Kira.
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The Hazards of Love, v.1: Bright World by Stan Stanley
Publication: March 30, 2021
The Hazards of Love is a fantastical cautionary tale of why you should never make a deal with a magical cat. Amparo is a known delinquent and is facing suspension for pulling the fire alarm at their school. To make matters worse, they have a crush on lolanthe, a straitlaced and rule-abiding student. Enter a magical cat with a solution to their problem. Instead of fulfilling the promise of making Amparo a “good person,” the scheming cat takes over their body and then imprisons Amparo’s soul in a strange place called Bright World. Bright World is full of unusual, brutish, and dangerous human-animal crossbreeds that feed off human memories, slowly turning them into mindless zombies before finally eating their bodies. Amparo must use their quick wits to escape and return home but soon finds themselves in thrall to a black deer named El Ciervo.
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Whistle: A New Gotham City Hero by E. Lockhart and Manuel Preitano
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Willow Zimmerman is a Gotham City teenager who is trying to make a difference in her spare time by protesting gentrification efforts in her neighborhood, Down River. She also needs money, and a job at a local job shelter is not enough to support her and her mom. When an old friend of the family offers Willow a job which allows her to use her smarts and pays well, she takes it, even though the job may technically be illegal. However, she begins to realize that the job is connected to a larger plan to take over her neighborhood, and while investigating, she is attacked. Things turn even stranger when she discovers she can communicate with the dog who saved her life. To stop things from getting worse, she decides to be the hero her neighborhood needs.
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A Quick and Easy Guide to Consent by Isabella Rotman and Luke Howard
Limerence Press / Oni Press
Publication Date: October 27, 2020
The latest in the Quick and Easy Guide series, this volume covers the complicated concept of consent in an easily digestible comic book. The peppy narrator, Sergeant Yes Means Yes, or Sarge, takes readers through a variety of scenarios teens may find themselves in, discussing how to make the scenarios safer and more comfortable for everyone involved. The guide defines consent (complete with examples of what does and does not count as consent), and provides ways to discuss wants and needs with potential partners. The backmatter even includes helpful charts to help readers define their boundaries, interests, sexual activities, and STI risk reduction.
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Cheer Up!: Love and Pompoms by Crystal Frasier and Val Wise
Publication Date: August 10, 2021
When brilliant but antisocial lesbian Annie joins the cheerleading team to round out her college applications, she rekindles her friendship with BeBe, the newly elected captain of the squad. While Annie’s outspokenness often alienates others, BeBe, a transgender girl, struggles to please everyone, especially her teammates and her parents. As BeBe learns to advocate for herself in the face of microaggressions, Annie discovers that opening herself up to others might not be so bad after all.
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Jukebox by Nidhi Chanani
First Second / Macmillan
Publication Date: June 22, 2021
Follow this enchanting time-traveling jolt through history with Shaheen and her cousin, Tannaz, as they search for Shaheen’s missing father. One moment, Shaheen is involved in an endless discussion with dad about his timeless vinyl collection (though partly tuning him out). The next moment, she is wondering when he will be home and why he isn’t answering calls. Shaheen and Tannaz decide to pretend they are solving a Nancy Drew case as they whisk through town visiting shops such as Otis Street Records. It is here that they are confronted with the “Jukebox.” Could this be the timeless classic involved in Shaheen’s dad’s missing case? Or could this be a dead end?
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Let’s Talk About It: The Teen’s Guide to Sex, Relationships, and Being a Human by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan
Random House Graphic / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: March 9, 2021
Written by a married team of professional cartoonists who focus on sex education, Let’s Talk About It is an open and honest graphic novel guide to sex, consent, relationships, and everything in between and provides teens—or anyone who hasn’t had the chance to examine themselves or their relationships with others fully—an intelligent and easy-to-understand jumping off point to explore. The bright and colorful illustrations show a diverse group of characters representing various body types, genders, and abilities, covering topics which include not just consent, sex, and gender, but also consideration, boundaries, communication, and friendship-—things that are needed in order to build positive and lasting relationships, romantic or otherwise.
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Djeliya by Juni Ba
Publication Date: July 7, 2021
In this West African-inspired fantasy epic, disgraced prince Mansour Keita seeks to reclaim his father’s throne in a post-apocalyptic world destroyed by the wizard Soumaoro. With his djeli, Awa Kouyaté, to guide him, Mansour goes on a redemption quest, seeking to repair the world and recover his old kingdom. Their journey takes them on a weaving path, entwined with fantastical tales, peculiar characters, and explosive action.
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Feelings: A Story in Seasons by Manjitt Thapp
Penguin Random House
Publication Date: March 2, 2021
Feelings: A Story in Seasons is an autobiographical work of graphic nonfiction by illustrator Manjitt Thapp. As she works towards an important creative deadline, Thapp takes the reader through one year of her life via the structure of six seasons (high summer, late summer, monsoon, autumn, winter, and spring). As the seasons change and progress, seasonal anxiety and depression rise and fall, impacting the artist’s creative abilities.
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