Let’s face it. Comics and graphic novels, for the most part, are a pretty white lot. Since the very beginning, the vast majority of characters have been Caucasian, and, while characters of color have certainly existed in comics* before now, it isn’t until recently that racially diverse characters have been able to grab the spotlight in their own right. Below are three “must read” titles featuring main characters of color:
Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki: This elegant and thoughtful realistic graphic novel chronicles the tumultuous year of half-Japanese Kimberly “Skim” Keiko Cameron as she deals with the suicide of a classmate and falling in love for the first time. Especially vivid is a sexually confusing relationship with her free-spirited drama teacher who disappears suddenly, leaving Skim feeling heartbroken and unwanted. The beautifully drawn panels reference traditional Japanese printmaking and the stark black and white images echo the raw emotional tone. This one is gorgeous in both story and artwork and thoroughly earned its place as a 2009 Best Books for Young Adults Top Ten selection. Being sixteen feels exactly like this.