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CultureArts

Y.A. LGBTQ+ Webcomics and Graphic Novels for Pride Month

Happy Pride 2021 everyone!

One great way to celebrate is to check out some feel-good queer stories!

Finally, we are seeing a boom in fictional LGBTQ+ graphic novels and webcomics for young adults (Y.A.). I wanted to share some of these stories with you because they left a long-lasting impression on me.

I was able to read the following stories for free at their host publishing sites and through the online public library service in Toronto. 

Let’s dive in!


LGBTQ+ Webcomics You Can Read Online Right Now

ShootAround by Suspu

The cover image of ShootAround by suspu on Webtoons.

© Suspu. (Image Source: Webtoons)

Tags: modern setting, future setting, zombies, apocalypse, survival, America, friendship, mentorship, rivals, romance, comedy, drama, action, disability, prosthetics, aromantic, asexual, demiromantic, demisexual, monogamy, polyamory, same-sex relationships, heterosexual relationships, coming out, queer relationships, bisexual, pansexual, lesbian, gay, straight, transgender, bipoc

Can an all-girls basketball team and their coach survive the zombie apocalypse?

They never got to graduate from high school. For some of the girls, the sudden disaster means no prom night, homemade spaghetti or any chance of finding out the conclusion of the internationally best-selling manga, One Piece. Left with no resources in a zombie apocalypse other than their wits, they embark on a new journey to survive together.

Read at: Webtoons

What I liked about itShoot Around is a funny, dramatic and well-thought out survival story featuring incompetent, but lovable, adolescents and adults. You read the tags right. There is so much diverse representation in this one story! It can get gory, sad, and suspenseful so buckle up! If you liked this one, I highly recommend Suspu’s ongoing queer historical thriller, Heir’s Game, as well.

Life Outside the Circle by H-P Lehkonen

The cover image of Life Outside the Circle by H-P Lehkonen on Webtoons.

© H-P Lehkonen. Image Source: Webtoons

Tags: modern setting, countryside, small town, city, Finland, comedy, romance, family, coming out, same-sex relationship, gay, bisexual, transgender, single dad, bipoc

Two men who were used to being on their own happen to find love.

Sami is a Helsinki artist who moves to the town of Kauhajoki in the Finnish countryside. He finds himself stranded with no electricity in the middle of winter! Luckily, he is aided by his only neighbours in the area: Juha, an overworked, single dad, and his young daughter Mayu, who craves for more friends. The more time they all spend together, the more they become family.

Read at: Webtoons

What I liked about it: I love H-P Lehkonen’s hand-drawn art, and the messages in each chapter. There are great moments of comedy and character-bonding, as well as an exploration of the realities of being LGBTQ+ in a small town, finding a job in the city, and trying to make a relationship work. This is a touching story built on intimate communication and trust. 

LGBTQ+ Graphic Novels You Can Read Online and in Print

Always Human — Ari North (walkingnorth)

The cover image of Always Human by walkingnorth on Webtoons.

© Ari North. Image Source: Webtoons

Tags: sci-fi, future setting, Australia, advanced technology, augmented reality, body modification, nature, disability, school, friendship, self-expression, romance, comedy, non-binary, genderfluid, asexual, lesbians, same-sex relationship, queer relationships

In a future world where technology can constantly change you, what does being human really mean?

In the 24th century, Sunati is used to seeing people change their looks and abilities via mods, so when she meets Austen — the girl on the train platform who always looks the same — it piques her interest.

Read at: Webtoons or your local bookseller

What I liked about it: Always Human features many likeable characters due to their realistic flaws and how they handle them.  Ari North stuns her audience with her amazing written and illustrative techniques. You can also listen to the soundtrack while reading on Webtoons for an immersive experience. 

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

The book cover of Heartstopper Volume 1 by Alice Oseman.

© Alice Oseman. Image Source: Alice Oseman

Tags: modern setting, all-boys high school, United Kingdom, self-discovery, coming out, mental health, bullying, friendship, romance, comedy, bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, queer relationships, same-sex relationships

What if the popular boy at school befriends you and makes your heart stutter?

Charlie is the only openly gay kid at his all-boys high school. He’s not sure who else to trust except his close friends. Then he meets Nick, a kindhearted rugby player who recently transferred to his school, and the two become inseparable.

Read at: Webtoons, Tapas, Tumblr, Toronto Public Library Overdrive or your local library or bookseller

What I liked about it: Alice Oseman blends amazing graphics and writing to deliver such a sweet queer love story. But Heartstopper also tackles topics in mental health and social inequality in powerful ways. The story spans three volumes so far, and is scheduled to be a Netflix series! O.M.G.

Bingo Love by Tee Franklin, Jenn St-Onge (Illustrator), Joy San (Colourist)

The book cover of Bingo Love by Tee Franklin, Jenn St-Onge, and Joy San.

© Tee Franklin, Jenn St-Onge, and Joy San. Image Source: Image Comics

Tags: 1960s, modern setting, America, school, drama, comedy, romance, coming out, family, same-sex relationship, lesbian, elderly couple, bipoc

For two old friends, playing and enduring the game of love and life reunites them. 

As children, Hazel and Mari became fast friends after meeting at a family church’s bingo event. It wasn’t until decades later, each having families of their own, that they were able to come to terms with their longing for each other.

Read at: Toronto Public Library Overdrive, or your local library or bookseller

What I liked about it: Tee Franklin delivers an awesome, bittersweet story of two women loving each other well into their grey years. There’s just so much longing and tenderness. It’s a powerful story about how they each found the strength to come out to their families.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

The book cover of The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang.

© Jen Wang. Image Source: Jen Wang

Tags: historical what-ifs, 1800s setting, France, dressing up, cross-dressing, royalty, family, genderqueer, gender fluidity, gender expression, friendship, drama, comedy, romance, queer relationships

What if you were born a prince but wanted to wear dresses?

At the cusp of European modernity, a young seamstress, Frances, is hired by the Prince of Paris, Sebastian, to tailor dresses for his secret alter ego: Lady Crystallia. Everyone’s dying to get to know Lady Crystallia and who her seamstress might be (Frances), but Sebastian is afraid that his secret will be revealed along with Frances’ identity.

Read at: Toronto Public Library Overdrive, or your local public library or bookseller 

What I liked about it: Jen Wang creates captivating coming-of-age stories (see her other work, Stargazing). I’m so glad to see that there’s genderfluid representation here. As Wang reveals about Sebastian, on some days he feels like a princess, and on others, he feels like a prince. The Prince and The Dressmaker is one of the sweetest, queer re-imaginings of our gender conformist past I’ve read yet.

Bloom by Kevin Panetta, Savanna Ganucheau (Illustrator)

The book cover of Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau.

© Kevin Panetta, Savanna Ganucheau. Image Source: Macmillan Publishers

Tags: modern setting, coastal town, Grecian baked goods, bakery, family, coming out, school, friendship, drama, romance, comedy, gay, same-sex relationship

Bake a cake with your crush AND save the family business.

High school grad, Ari, just wants to move out with his friends already but he is asked to help out with the family bakery for the summer. Ari doesn’t see how rewarding baking can be until he spends time with the cute and passionate new hire, Hector.

Read at: Toronto Public Library Overdrive, or your local library or bookseller

What I liked about it: With Kevin Panetta’s great writing and Savanna Ganucheau’s gorgeous art, the reader becomes captivated by the story. Bloom is a sugar-sweet love story about embracing family and cultural traditions. It will likely have a sequel– as listed on Goodreads– so if you like this one, stick around!

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden

The book cover of On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden.

© Tillie Walden. Image Source: Tillie Walden.

Tags: sci-fi, future setting, outer space, high-tech, boarding school, spaceships, architecture, magic, friendship, drama, action, family, romance, gender expression, non-binary, lesbian, queer relationships, same-sex relationships

How many light-years would you travel to find your chosen family?

In a future where humans have founded their own communities in outer space, young Mia joins a traveling spaceship crew to restore old buildings. In her spare time, she can’t help but think about a girl she went to boarding school with. 

Read at: Toronto Public Library Overdrive, or your local library or bookseller

What I liked about it: Tillie Walden creates this intricate universe that is mysterious, beautiful, and hostile. In it are characters who are cisgender women and non-binary people. It’s a coming of age story where our protagonists need to make tough decisions on how they want to live their lives. Overall, On a Sunbeam is an epic love story at 500+ pages!

Camp Spirit by Axelle Lenoir

The book cover of Camp Spirit by Axelle Lenoir.

© Axelle Lenoir. Image Source: Axelle Lenoir

Tags: summer camp, 1990s setting, Quebec, Canada, magic, children, teenagers, family, friendship, romance, comedy, drama, action, bipoc, lesbian, same-sex relationship

What’s worse – being haunted at night or babysitting in daylight?

High school grad, Elodie, is signed up by her mom to be a camp counsellor where she will look after screaming children for the whole summer. Most of the senior counsellors don’t believe this grunge-loving, emotionally guarded girl could last long. But then an eerie blue light falls over the land and everyone is scared. Legend has it, it signals the return of the Spirit of the Forest. 

Read at: Toronto Public Library Overdrive, or your local library or bookseller

What I liked about it: Axelle Lenoir’s art style and writing in Camp Spirit makes it a dramatic, comedic and cute story. Elodie learns not to judge people so quickly and comes to understand that she is valued and supported as she embraces the unknown. I’m so happy that Camp Spirit has its roots in Quebec and is now translated into English.

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell, Faith Erin Hicks (Illustrator)

The book cover of Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks.

© Rainbow Rowell, Faith Erin Hicks. Image Source: Rainbow Rowell

Tags: modern setting, Halloween, America, fair, seasonal coworkers, friendship, high school seniors, romance, comedy, bisexual, same-sex relationships, bisexual relationships, queer relationships

Pumpkinheads (noun): two friends who share a love for Fall festivities and so, would do anything for each other.

Soon to be high school grads, Deja and Josiah celebrate their last shift together at the Halloween fair by re-visiting all of the attractions. As Deja keeps reminding him, this is Josiah’s last chance to talk to his crush on the girl who works across from them at the Pie Palace.

Read at: Toronto Public Library Overdrive, or your local library or bookseller

What I like about it: Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks craft a great story about friendship, adventure, and romance. It was great to see Deja and Josiah get into all sorts of shenanigans, break out of their comfort zones and learn more about each other. This was such a feel-good story!


Conclusion

Before I wrote this article, I was looking at all the books that earned a spot on my bookcase. None of the fictional ones were LGBTQ+ stories with happy endings! It was time to change that.

Putting together this list of book recommendations is my way of honouring these authors for uplifting our LGBTQ+ community. 

These artists and writers are incredibly talented. Through their story-telling, they tackle inequality issues and the intersectionalities experienced by LGBTQ+ people.

Let’s keep on making space for, and supporting, creatives who have a story to share.

Consider buying their work or making a contribution to support them!

Author

Y.A. LGBTQ+ Webcomics and Graphic Novels for Pride Month
BA enjoys creativity and non-conformity.