Women in Comics: Back To School Edition

Frontier Classroom by Corey Leopold. CC BY 2.0.
Frontier Classroom by Corey Leopold. CC BY 2.0.

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. Continue reading Women in Comics: Back To School Edition

Gone Camping: Novels Set At Summer Camp

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Image from https://www.flickr.com/ photos/26316553@N07/2896539401/.

Summer camp.  For many teens, those two words evoke all sorts of powerful memories and emotions.  As someone who attended and later worked at a few different kinds of summer camps, I too associate summertime with that special otherworld of camp life.  Whether it’s an academic summer program on an unfamiliar college campus, an wilderness adventure in the woods, or some other uniquely themed summer-only community experience, camp life often seems to be an escape from teens’ everyday lives.

Camp can be the rare place where you suddenly fit in and find others who share your passions.  Camp can be a dependable community where you feel the freedom to be a different–and perhaps more authentic–version of yourself.  Camp can also be the time and place when you discover new interests or new aspects of your identity.  Like all tightly knit and highly organized communities, camp can also be a place that reinforces certain expectations or ideals, making it a trap rather than an escape.  In all cases, summer camp also seems to be one of the best settings for diverse and strong coming of age tales.  Just check out a few of the fabulous young adult novels set at summer camp!

the summer i wasn't meThe Summer I Wasn’t Me – Jessica Verdi

Lexi will do almost anything to maintain her relationship with her mother, especially since her dad’s recent death.  But when she figures out that Lexi’s in love with a girl, her mom plunges even deeper into depression and anxiety.  Desperate to preserve her family, Lexi agrees to attend New Horizons, a Christian summer camp that promises to teach her how to fight off her SSA–same sex attraction. Lexi’s determined to change–but she wasn’t counting on meeting Carolyn.

Wildlife – Fiona Wood (2015 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults)

wildlifeSince her aunt used her as a model in local billboard, Sibylla’s fairly mediocre social life has started to shift in unexpected ways.  Suddenly, she’s not entirely sure what to expect from the upcoming wilderness term.  Handsome Ben kissed her at a party over the holidays but hasn’t said much since and her longtime best friend Holly seems intensely invested in Sib & Ben’s potential romance.  Meanwhile, new girl Lou simply wants to muddle through this strange first term without having to discuss her dead boyfriend or her still crushing grief.  But in this unfamiliar environment, relationships of all kinds undergo unforeseen transformations. Continue reading Gone Camping: Novels Set At Summer Camp

Women in Comics: Fantasy

Neuschwanstein Castle | Schwangau | Bavaria | Germany by Christian Junker - AHKGAP. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Neuschwanstein Castle | Schwangau | Bavaria | Germany by Christian Junker – AHKGAP. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Fantasy is in many ways the perfect genre for comics and graphic novels because the combination of text and art allows creators to even more vividly bring to life the worlds that they create. Given this, it is not surprising that so many comic books and graphic novels fall into this genre, including some of the most famous superhero stories. This post includes some of the best fantasy stories found in comics and graphic novels and offers many different options for fans of all types of fantasy.

castlewaiting-coverCastle Waiting by Linda Medley (2007 Great Graphic Novels For Teens) – Set in a world made up of anthropomorphized animals, bearded women, mysterious travellers, and magic, this graphic novel is in the style of traditional fables, but with a more modern focus. Though set at the castle of the title, which is isolated since a Sleeping Beauty-like incident decades before, the book is actually broken into a series of stories, each of which focuses on a smaller group of the castle’s inhabitants. It is an interesting and unique read that is perfect for fans of fairy tales and fables. Continue reading Women in Comics: Fantasy

Women in Comics: 2015 Eisner Award Nominations

eisnerawards_logo_13This month, I thought I would take a look at some of the great works by women that are nominated for this year’s Eisner Award. The Eisner Awards, or more correctly, the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, recognize the best achievements in American comics on an annual basis. The award nominations are typically announced in April with the awards being presented at San Diego Comic Con in July. This year, some wonderful works by women are nominated and it seems like a great time to consider both those that I have previously written about and some new gems. This post won’t look at the work of all of the Eisner nominated women, but will instead focus on those that will appeal to teens and fans of young adult literature.

Ms. MarvelMs. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona, Saga by Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples, and Bandette by Paul Tobin & Colleen Coover are three of only four titles to have received three or more nominations which doesn’t surprise me at all. Ms. Marvel has been extremely popular for the way that it has reimagined the Ms. Marvel character as a teen Pakistani-American named Kamala Khan who is a huge fan of Carol Danver and ultimately ends up stepping into her shoes as Ms. Marvel. The series received a lot of publicity for the fact that Kamala Khan is the first Muslim character to headline a Marvel series and the story has helped to keep it popular. It earned not only Eisner nominations in the categories of Best New Series, Best Writer (for G. Willow Wilson), Best Penciller/Inker (for Adrian Alphona), Best Cover Artist (for Jamie McKelvie/Matthew Wilson), and Best Lettering (for Joe Caramagna), but also a Hugo nomination and a spot on YALSA’s 2015 Great Graphic Novels for Teens list. Continue reading Women in Comics: 2015 Eisner Award Nominations

Reading List for International Women’s Day

The UN's theme for International Women's Day this year is Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!
The UN’s theme for International Women’s Day this year is Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!

Yesterday, March 8, was International Women’s Day, a holiday born out of women protesting their work in garment factories, trying to get the right to vote, and later just celebrating and trying to better the roles of women in the world. In fact in the United States, the U.K. and Australia, the entire month of March is identified as a celebration of Women’s History.

For many people, celebrating women’s history and women in general goes hand in hand with being a feminist. In 2014, feminist – being a person who believes in gender equality – became a cultural concept very much in the spotlight. Reporters and bloggers asked celebrities if they identified as feminists; Beyonce performed at the MTV music awards in front of a giant “FEMINIST” sign; and Time magazine controversially added the word to a poll of words to be banned. Other serious issues such as campus rape and Gamergate harassment made the lives of women and their treatment take center stage.

I didn’t self-identify as a feminist until middle or high school because I didn’t know that there was a word for what I had felt my whole life: that women and girls were unquestioningly the equal to men and boys and that we had the right to exciting, meaningful, and amazing books. I feel so happy and privileged to go up in a house where my 8 year old intention to be a brain surgeon during the day and a concert pianist at night was met with a supportive, “Ok.” I didn’t quite reach those heights but my family never made me feel like I couldn’t do that because I was a girl. Sadly, this is not the norm throughout the whole world, and not even in the United States.

Tangibly, materially, and in terms of rights and freedoms, there is a lot to be done for women and girls throughout the world and our country. But one of the things libraries and bookstores and readers can do is to read about lives of women and girls. By reading and sharing stories of women and girls we can show others the amazing things women can do. We can also share the struggles of women and girls and help inspire change.

Here are just a handful of books I’ve read recently that have a strong, pro-women message. They present women and girls who are strong without being caricatures; emotional without being a harmful stereotype; and most of all, full realized characters with hopes, dreams, and struggles.


gabiGabi, a Girl in Pieces
by Isabel Quintero (2015 Morris winner and Amelia Bloomer Project list): Gabi is a girl that I simultaneously wish I knew in high school or had been in high school. She doesn’t have all the answers but is still so confident in herself even when dealing with sexuality, her weight, family tragedies, her friends’ pregnancy and coming out, and more. She has a wonderful message of power and sense of self that speaks well to girls both struggling and not. This is also one of the few YA books I’ve read with abortion as a plot point.

Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman (2013 Alex Award): Rory Dawn has a hard life growing up in her Nevada trailer park and desperately wants to be a Girl Scout. This is a great meditation on the expectations of girlhood and poverty.  Continue reading Reading List for International Women’s Day

Women In Comics: Looking Ahead to 2015

Photo entitled "Change the last number! Happy new year!" by clement127. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Photo entitled “Change the last number! Happy new year!” by clement127. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

As 2015 opens, I have decided to focus this month’s Women in Comics post on the great comics from women that we can look forward to this year. It looks as though 2015 will bring many exciting options for fans of everything from superheroes to memoirs. Get ready for some great reads in the new year!

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Marvel will be bringing their Squirrel Girl character back as an ongoing series created by Erica Henderson and Ryan North. The series starts this month, so you can check it out right now.

G. Willow Wilson: Author G. Willow Wilson has two exciting projects coming in 2015, the release of volume two of Ms. Marvel at the end of March and her involvement with the X-Men series starting this month. Both are part of her recently announced exclusive deal with Marvel, which may well point to a future with many more Marvel Universe stories from Wilson. Continue reading Women In Comics: Looking Ahead to 2015

Find a New Favorite Female Comic Artist or Graphic Novelist

graphic_novels2As a big fan of graphic novels and comics, I read across many genres from superhero comics to nonfiction to humor and beyond. While I love the work of many different authors, today I want to highlight some of the best work from female artists who create comics and graphic novels. The list below includes some books I have read and some I can’t wait to read, but they are all written or drawn (or both!) by women who are among the best in the field.

Memoir
JapanAiJapan Ai by Aimee Major Steinberger (2009 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens, 2009 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2009 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers – This book, drawn in Manga style, chronicles Aimee’s trip to Japan, where she immerses herself in Japan’s particular cuteness. More of a journal than a traditional comic, this is fun book that will leave you dreaming of a trip to Japan. Continue reading Find a New Favorite Female Comic Artist or Graphic Novelist