Reading list: Queer comics

Melissa Starker, Creative Content & PR Manager

Mar 30, 2022

Alison Bechdel standing in front of a wall of comic panels

Friday, April 8, the Wex and The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum welcome artist and cartoon scholar Justin Hall to the Wex for a screening of No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics. Vivian Kleiman's documentary about five pioneering comic artists was produced by Hall and inspired by an anthology edited by him, which you can pick up now at the Wexner Center Store. It's part of a reading list below with recommendations from the Store's shelves. It'll be open for browsing before the film.

The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For

Cover of Alison Bechdel's The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For

Between creating the Bechdel Test and penning the bestselling memoir Fun Home (which was adapted into an award-winning musical), Alison Bechdel is maybe the most famous queer comic artist working. Bechdel started the strip Dykes to Watch Out For nearly 40 years ago, and panels from 11 past collections of that sprawling saga of intersecting lives are included in this hefty 2020 softcover, along with a sampling of more recent strips.


Seen: True Stories of Marginalized Trailblazers - Rachel Carson

Cover to the Rachel Carson edition of the graphic novel series Seen: True Stories of Marginalized Trailblazers

Learn more about the lesbian who became the godmother of the modern environmentalist movement through Birdie Willis and Rii Abrego's graphic portrayal of her life and work. The brand new book is the second in a series geared toward young adult readers.


Keeping it Unreal: Black Queer Fantasy and Superhero Comics

Cover art for the book Keeping it Unreal: Black Queer Fantasy and Superhero Comics

For his entry into NYU Press' Sexual Culture series, author Darieck Scott explores how the fantasies of Black power and triumph found in works like Black Panther and Luke Cage provide both a challenge to and a respite from white supremacy and anti-Blackness.


Drawing Power: Women's Stories of Sexual Violence, Harassment, and Survival

Cover to the comics anthology Drawing Power

Edited by Diane Nooman and featuring a forward by Roxane Gay, this Eisner Award-winning anthology makes ample space for queer voices in its compendium of lived experiences with harassment, rape, and other forms of sexual violence, rendered in black and white by more than 60 female comics creators.


A Self-Defense Study Guide for Trans Women

Cover for the comic A Self-Defense Study Guide for Trans Women

This 'zine-sized comic was created by the organization Transfighters Oakland with input from the community it serves. Short and to the point, it offers strategies for how to handle anti-trans sentiments in public and in personal relationships, from offhand comments to outright attacks.


No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics

Cover of the comics anthology No Straight Lines

All history books should be this absorbing. Through a range of visual and storytelling styles, from the intimate to the silly, the strips collected by Justin Hall evoke a defining era for being LGBTQ in America, with all the good (pride, community) and bad (AIDS, hate crimes) that came with it.


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