Regarding Graphic Novels
Read my introduction below, or skip ahead to the review.
I’m going to preface this with the disclaimer that I’ve always loved superheroes, but comics were not easily available to me as a child. I didn’t know anyone at school who was into comics, and on the rare occasion I was far enough away from my rural upbringing that I could get my hands on comics, I’d grab a single issue. I was often disappointed in the lack of variety, the women without agency treated more like scantily clad objects of desire or killing rather than heroes. I watched Batman and Spiderman cartoons and loved Supergirl.
Pre-internet, I grew up thinking that geek girls were an endangered species.
Now I have immediate access to comics thanks to the internet. I live in a city with comic book stores and a huge interlibrary loan system.
I’m a small-town girl late to the game, but I have every intention of catching up. And let me tell you, there’s never been a better time to get into comics, especially if you’re a woman or a child.
More female characters are being given agency—they are treated as individuals, not objects. More are fronting their own series. Women comic creators are generating a ton of amazing content online and in print.
Our library separates the adult graphic novels from the teen ones, and the teen ones from the children’s ones, a division I’m very thankful for as a mother.
Go to your library, browse the spines, judge them by their covers, and take a stack home. This week I picked up Saga vol 1 (Mature: contains very graphic sex in chapter/issue 4), A Boy & A Girl (pg-13 for brief nudity and language), This One Summer (pg-13 for language and sexual references), Ms. Marvel vol 1, Misfits of Avalon, and a stack of Star Wars ones for the Captain.
I’ll likely be reading and reviewing newer releases, ones that are either stand-alones or the first in a new series. This isn’t a comic or graphic novel review blog—it’s a blog about writing and editing—so I’ll be reviewing ones with a broad audience, ones that should be available at local libraries or bookstores.
But do comment below with your favorite graphic novels! It’s no secret I’m a fan of The Dreamer, but I won’t be reviewing it, since Vol. 3 is out in stores now.
Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal
This is a very mild origin story (think Peter Parker without Uncle Ben dying), so whether you’ll like it or not depends on how well you connect with Kamala.
Kamala Khan is the kind of superhero I craved as a preteen. She’s geeky and spunky and relatable. (Again, a lot like early Spider-Man.) I can see why some might consider her a Mary Sue character, but in #5, when she had her first “victory,” I was hooked. If the conflict and stakes don’t keep intensifying, then I’ll probably walk away, but for now, I’m so in.
If you have daughters that want to get into comics, I’d recommend Kamala for 8+
Pick up a copy of Ms. Marvel Volume 1 from a library or bookstore (you could read the whole thing just standing in between stacks). Then write a 15-blinker origin story.*
*It doesn’t have to be a superhero story. It could be about your origin as a writer.
And don’t forget to comment with your favorite graphic novels, comics, or webcomics below, if you’ve got some!