11 Graphic Novels That Celebrate Women To Read Ahead Of The Inauguration Protests
This weekend, all across the country, women of all shapes, sizes, colors, religions, socioeconomic classes, cultures, and more will come together in order to celebrate what unites us, but also celebrate our differences from one another. We are united as women, against sexism, misogyny, racism, ableism, anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiment, body negativity, and all the other -isms that have pervaded our society for the last few months (and beyond). We will make our voices heard, because what we stand for is so vital. There’s no choice but to do the work, because the alternative is unacceptable.
If you can’t or have chosen not to march tomorrow, but still want to support these women (or if you are marching, but want to read more about women), we can help. These graphic novels celebrate what it is to be a woman, in all the wonderful and myriad ways we are alike and different. There is no one thing that defines a woman; as such, this list is intended to be intersectional and inclusive. We are so different from one another and that’s incredible. It’s affirming, and we’re proud of it. So join us today, and this weekend, as we celebrate women with these incredible graphic novels and memoirs.
1. 'Embroideries' by Marjane Satrapi
You probably know Marjane Satrapi from her critically acclaimed memoir Persepolis, about her family’s flight from Iran during the Revolution. While it’s an amazing story, Embroideries is my favorite of her graphic novels. It features women of many different ages — Satrapi’s mother, grandmother, aunts, friends, and neighbors — sitting around and chatting about love, sex, and what it is to be women. It’s the best kind of read — quiet, contemplative, and utterly true.
2. 'The Story of My Tits' by Jennifer Hayden
After Jennifer Hayden had a double mastectomy because of breast cancer, she didn’t expect to miss her breasts as much as she did. But after they were gone, she realized that in many ways, her breasts told her life story. They were an integral part of her, and all of a sudden, they were gone. Through the lens of her breasts, Hayden tells a joyful, funny, and poignant story of loss and recovery, of life and love.
3. 'Tomboy' by Liz Prince
Not all girls like to be girly, and that’s what Liz Prince captures so expertly in her memoir Tomboy. When she was growing up, gender norms dictated that she should wear dresses and play with dolls — but why? Being girly just wasn’t something Liz enjoyed. What was it such a big deal? This memoir of defying gender expectations and learning to accept yourself is wonderful.
4. 'Calling Dr. Laura' by Nicole Georges
This graphic memoir packs a one-two punch as Georges discovers that her father, who she thought was dead, is actually still living. On top of that, she finally accepts that she’s a lesbian, which she fears will cause trouble with her traditional Syrian mother. This graphic memoir is gorgeously drawn, and while there’s so much going on within its pages, it never feels overly stuffed or overwhelming.
5. 'Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me' by Ellen Forney
Ellen Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her late 20s. As an artist, she was concerned that the medications prescribed for her would diminish her ability to create. In an effort to make sense of her diagnosis, Forney researched other bipolar artists and creators through history as she struggles to live with her own mental illness.
6. 'Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride' by Lucy Knisley
In this gorgeous, splashy graphic memoir, Lucy Knisley recounts her path to getting married. It’s full of gorgeous drawings and the road to her wedding planning—but where it really shines is when Knisley shares her deepest thoughts with us. Given her ambivalence towards the “wedding industry,” what does it mean that she’s now buying into it and getting married? And does marrying a man erase her bisexuality? It’s well worth the read.
7. 'Trans Girl Next Door' by Kylie Wu
A series of slice-of-life webcomics on living as a trans girl in her 20s, Kylie Wu’s webcomics are hilarious and poignant. Wu discusses many different aspects of her transition, but also just being a 20-year-old woman: dating, makeup, sex, body image, and more. It’s fun, heartfelt, and Kylie is just so endearing.
8. 'The Disabled Life' by Jess & Li
“Two sisters documenting the jerks and perks of living #TheDisabledLife” is the tagline of this excellent slice-of-life webcomic, which features regular updates on the various challenges and frustrations that come with being in a wheelchair. Yes, it’s about being disabled, but it’s also about so much more than that—hilarity, snark, wit, and strong opinions (because not everything featuring marginalized people has to be about being marginalized).
9. 'Jennifer’s Journal: The Life of a Suburban Girl' by Jennifer Crute
This short graphic memoir features the life of Jennifer, a black artist, as she navigates her daily life. She tackles issues of depression, sex, and religion, as well as problems with work. It’s not all serious, though; Jennifer chronicles daily encounters with friends, family members, and more, with hilarious and smart insights on stereotypes, race, class, and gender.
10. 'Oh Joy Sex Toy' by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan
It might seem strange to include a comic that reviews sex toys on this list, but Oh Joy Sex Toy is so much more than that. It’s a sex-positive and body-positive comic that focuses on sexual health and education (while also being fun and entertaining). The first volumes are in print, but you can also find it as a free webcomic online. A warning: this comic is so NSFW it’s not even funny, so keep that in mind before you go looking for it!
11. 'Not Funny Ha-Ha' by Leah Hayes
This matter-of-fact graphic novel deals with two women from different backgrounds — socioeconomic, cultural, and family — who choose to terminate a pregnancy. Hayes details the different steps involved in the choice, from researching clinics to social support networks. There’s no judgment here, just an honest resource of what to expect if you are considering terminating a pregnancy, or are supporting a friend or family member through the process.