Women in Comics: Comics For a New School Year

School Sign
School by Rafael Sato. CC BY 2.0.

It’s that time of year again. A new school year is beginning! And while some may be excited and others sad, a new year of classes is no reason to stop reading comics. Why not make some time this Fall to try a new comic that will give you a different perspective on high school?

Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey by Özge Samanci – Özge Samanci’s memoir of growing up in Turkey is simultaneously about school and about far more than that. As a child growing up in Turkey, Özge felt immense pressure, which she brings to life in this memoir in a way that will be relatable to all readers. The artwork and design of this book is particularly noteworthy, as Özge uses multiple art styles and techniques throughout the story. This is a great read for budding artists and those with an interest in graphic memoirs.

Dare to Disappoint CoverskimMercury Cover

Skim by Mariko Tamaki with art by Jillian Tamaki – Set in a Canadian Catholic school in 1993, this story follows Skim, a 16-year-old Canadian-Japanese, Goth girl, through her struggles with high school. This is a book that tackles complicated topics, including suicide, friendship, high school gossip, academic pressure, and romantic relationships, including a relationship with one of her teachers. This book earned a place on the 2009 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens list and is sure to appeal to fans of Mariko and Jillian’s other works, including This One Summer.

Mercury by Hope Larson – This is another one set in Canada, this time in Nova Scotia. The story alternates between the events at the Fraser family farm in 1859 and a present day high schooler named Tara Fraser who is dealing with the fallout of a fire that destroyed her house. Now her mother has been forced to take a job in a distant town, leaving Tara to stay with her relatives and re-enter school after a couple of years of homeschooling. Over the course of the book, readers discover how these two stories intertwine. Illustrated with black and white images, this book weaves in elements of magic and fantasy without losing its relatable and realistic emotional core.

Tina's Mouth CoverOrange Cover

Tina’s Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary by Keshni Kashyap with illustrations by Mari Araki – Set in Southern California, the framing device for this book is a diary consisting of letters to Jean-Paul Sartre that Tina is writing for a class project. In the process of exploring existentialism, she re-evaluates her friendships, family relationships, and crushes in a highly relatable and entertaining fashion. The book combines the art and text in a nontraditional manner, but the two elements of the book come together seamlessly.

Orange by Ichigo Takano – What would you do if you received a letter from your future self? On the first day of her junior year of high school, Naho must consider just this question when she receives a letter from the future warning her about a boy who is about to transfer into her school. This hugely popular manga has attracted a loyal following and has been adapted as both a live action movie and an anime that recently debuted, and anyone who reads it will understand its immense popularity. It is a great pick for manga fans who want a mix of science fiction and romance.

This list offers just a few options, but if you’re interested in more books, be sure to check out our previous list and let me know what your favorite school-related comics are in the comments!

– Carli Spina, currently reading I.D. by Emma Rios