While June is usually LGBTQ+ Pride month, San Jose's own Silicon Valley Pride will be August 25-26, 2018! San Jose Public Library will be marching with the parade on Sunday, August 26 at 10:00 AM. Additionally, SJPL will be hosting it's final summer Drag Queen Story Time at King Library on Saturday, September 15 at 11:00 AM.
And to celebrate, I've put together a list of comics with LGBTQ+ characters and themes! Note, I will be using the term "queer" throughout this post as an umbrella term for non-heterosexual.
San Jose's first lesbian and gay pride parade in 1974, image from SJSU Special Collections and Archives.
Comics for Children
A spin off of the amazing series, Princeless, Raven is a skilled pirate captain whose father intended to leave her with his fleet of ships and crew. But after her father died, her brothers had her locked up and stole or burned everything dear to her. Now set on revenge, Raven gathers her own all female pirate crew and takes the seas by storm. This series is centered around women of diverse backgrounds, skills, and body types, and features several cute queer romances (and love triangles) aboard the ship.
Callie rides an emotional roller coaster while serving on the stage crew for a middle school production of Moon over Mississippi as various relationships start and end, and others never quite get going. One of the central characters comes out to Callie and other surprises are revealed along the way.
Peony, a talented Earthling baker, is beamed up to space to compete in Space Battle Lunchtime, an intergalactic cooking contest broadcast all over the universe. In spite of fierce competition, Peony finds joy in concocting new dishes out of unfamiliar ingredients like Mars Goop and Moon Butter, and she discovers the importance of friendship over feuds. This series features colorful illustrations and a central queer romance.
This beloved and charming all-ages book follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons. Greta becomes fascinated with the enchanting dragons and their caretakers, and begins to appreciate how traditional crafts can create their own kind of magic by enriching lives, including hers. This book is wonderfully inclusive, and depicts a distinct and expressive cast of LGBTQ+ characters and people of color.
Comics for Teens
Best friends Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley spend a fun summer at Lumberjane scout camp where they encounter yetis, three-eyed wolves, and giant falcons while solving a mystery that holds the fate of the world in the balance. This series features different gender expressions, trans characters, gay parents, and adorable queer romances.
This series chronicles Esther, Susan, and Daisy's friendship while they attend university. This hilarious collection features the trials and tribulations of college while being away from home for the first time. One of the characters comes out later on in the series and dating hilarity ensues.
16-year-old Marigold “Goldie” Vance lives at a Florida resort with her dad, who manages the place. When Walter, the current detective, encounters a case he can’t crack, he agrees to mentor Goldie in exchange for her help solving the mystery utilizing her smarts, random skills, and connections with the hotel staff and various folks in town. Goldie also has a crush on one of older girls in town.
Lord Blackheart, a villain with a vendetta, and his sidekick, Nimona, an impulsive young shapeshifter, must prove to the kingdom that Sir Goldenloin and the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are. This stand alone graphic novel is hilarious, adorable, and full of heart, and several of the characters are queer.
Werewolf barista Julie and her new girlfriend go on a date to a close-up magic show, but chaos ensues when the magician casts a horrible spell on their friend. Now it's up to the team of mythical pals to stop the illicit illusionist before it's too late.
When Hazel and Mari met at church bingo in 1963, it was love at first sight. Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both married young men and had families. Decades later, now in their mid-'60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage.
While Prince Sebastian's parents look for a bride for him, Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia--the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion! Sebastian's secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances--one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone's secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend?
Comics for Adults
The comic book industry comes together to honor those killed in Orlando two years ago. From IDW Publishing, with assistance from DC Entertainment, this oversize comic contains moving and heartfelt material from some of the greatest talents in comics - - mourning the victims, supporting the survivors, celebrating the LGBTQ community, and examining love in today's world.
After being kicked out of the armed forces due to Don't Ask Don't Tell, Kate Kane uses her special training and her family's fortune to tackle crime and supernatural happenings throughout Gotham. All while keeping her identity a secret from her girlfriend, Commissioner Maggie Sawyer. You can also find Batwoman in the fun Bombshells series, which has several queer romances. Additionally, it was recently announced that Batwoman will be getting her own TV series on the CW, played by queer actress Ruby Rose, and will be making her first appearance in the Arrow/Flash/Supergirl crossover event this December.
The X-Men series have had a firm place in the hearts of the LGBTQ+ readers for decades. Underrepresented groups, including the LGBTQ+ community racial minorities, saw themselves reflected in the mutants who didn't choose their mutations but were born that way. It's also not hard to find similarities between the social and political hostility towards these fictional and real life groups as they fight for acceptance. A few years ago, Marvel had one of it's oldest member's of the X-Men come out as a gay man. Now, Bobby Drake, or Iceman, has his own series!
Katchoo is smart, independent and very much in love with her best friend, Francine. Then Katchoo meets David, a gentle but persistent young man who is determined to win Katchoo's heart. The resulting love triangle is a touching comedy of romantic errors until Katchoo's former employer comes looking for her and $850,000 in missing mob money. First penned in 1993, this classic series is both hilarious, touching, and suspenseful and thrilling. With beautiful art by Terry Moore, and this is one of my favorite series.
John Constantine is a streetwise magician and occult detective who does morally questionable things, arguably for the greater good. He is also a bisexual man who smokes a lot. His series was the longest-running and one of the most successful titles of DC's Vertigo imprint, had a spin-off TV show Constantine, and is now a series regular in Legends of Tomorrow.
Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. Welcome to THE WICKED + THE DIVINE, where gods are the ultimate pop stars. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever. A contemporary fantasy full of mystery, ethereal concert experiences, and sassy social media updates. Many of the gods are queer and create more of a love pentagram than a love triangle.
Oaf is a large, hirsute, scary-looking ex-wrestler who lives in San Francisco with his adorable kitties and listens to a lot of Morrissey. The book follows Oaf ’s search for love in the big city, especially his pursuit of Eiffel, the lead singer of a black metal/queercore/ progressive disco grindcore band. A romantic comedy at its core, Wuvable Oaf recalls elements of comics as diverse as Scott Pilgrim, Love and Rockets, and Archie, set against the background of San Francisco’s queer community and music scene.
An honest and heartfelt look at one young woman’s exploration of her sexuality, mental well-being, and growing up in our modern age. Told using expressive artwork that invokes both laughter and tears, this moving and highly entertaining single volume depicts not only the artist’s burgeoning sexuality, but many other personal aspects of her life that will resonate with readers.
Characters from the worlds of pop-culture, film, activism and academia guide us on a journey through the ideas, people and events that have shaped ‘queer theory’. From identity politics and gender roles to privilege and exclusion, Queer explores how we came to view sex, gender, and sexuality in the ways that we do; how these ideas get tangled up with our culture and our understanding of biology, psychology and sexology; and how these views have been disputed and challenged. Along the way we look at key landmarks which shift our perspective of what’s ‘normal’, such as Alfred Kinsey’s view of sexuality as a spectrum between heterosexuality and homosexuality, the play Wicked, which reinterprets characters from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, or moments in Casino Royale when we’re invited to view James Bond with the kind of desiring gaze usually directed at female bodies in mainstream media.
What Are Your Favorites?
I had to scale my list back a bit for this post, but do you have any favorites I missed that you would like to add? Will you be at Silicon Valley Pride this weekend? Have you attended any of our Drag Queen Story Times or any other Silicon Valley Pride events? Let us know in the comments below, and have a happy Pride weekend!