Comic books are what got me into reading. My brother and I started out with the Amulet series by Kazu Kabushi. We were transported together into this mythical world. It showed that I loved it more, when my brother would ask me “Is the next one out?” Of course, I always had the answer. Slowly but surely I was integrated into books with fewer and fewer pictures. And I love novels, honestly I do. There’s just something about sitting down and flying through a graphic novel. So, I thought I’d share a couple of my favorite graphic novels by women of color.
Saga written by Brian K. Vaughn and illustrated by Fiona Staples
Fiona Staples a Canadian illustrator paints a sci-fi tale of forbidden love held between two people from different planets. With their planets and people at war they go on the run with their forbidden cross bred daughter. Though their daughter bridges the gap and is a symbol of unity, they’re on the run with this beautiful family they’ve created. One of my favorite things about this story is that the main character, Alana, is just as much a book nerd as me. She’ll most likely be found rocking a stylish new haircut with magically woven clothes and a book in her lap. Not forgetting that she’s a badass woman that’s now an ex-soldier from her side of the war. This story weaves so much together and it just keeps going. I love Fiona Staples’ illustrations, and it is hands down my favorite graphic novel. This is also another story that I’ve gotten hooked on and therefore forced my brother to be hooked on as well. It’s nice to be able to share this story that I love so much, and it gives me so many feelings. This was also one of my first adult graphic novels, and it’s so mind blowingly intricate. I can relate so much of this series to the real world from it’s racism, LGBT+ characters, presence of addiction, and this story even has it’s own history of a genocide. Fiona Staples has won multiple awards for her illustrations and is also known to be called, “One of the best artists working in the industry today.” I’ve read a couple other graphic novels illustrated by her as well, and honestly, I vouch for that statement.
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Jen Wang, also known for In Real Life, a graphic novel about a girl gamer, taken a new turn with her work. The Prince and the Dressmaker explores a prince that just wants to feel beautiful but feels he has to hide his true self from his father, the king, and the rest of society. Social standards and all that. By day he plays the roles of a prince and by night he is Lady Crystallia, setting trends with her beautiful wardrobe. Meanwhile a girl is hired be the prince’s seamstress in secret, the hands and brain behind these jaw dropping gorgeous dresses that Lady Crystallia flaunts. This graphic novel has a very aristocrat French renaissance vibe. All the dresses and trends really relate back to a modern version of late 1700s French fashion. It’s just beautiful how Jen Wang is able to make these outfits sparkle without there actually being sparkles in the pages.
I’ve begun to explore more and more things through graphic novels lately as well. Graphic memoirs are becoming more prevalent in the comic book world. Something I’ve never considered or even thought of that being a thing until after high school. In my college career I’ve been able to explore graphic novels in a way that I hadn’t before. The way you can see the world through the dramatization of images changes everything. I think sometimes we don’t understand the gravity of something until we see it in a different form. I’ve created my own graphic memoirs since being in college, and it’s a process. A process of patience, rethinking, shaping, and getting better at something. It’s amazing how someone could tell the story of their life through animal characters or collages, there is no limit to graphic novel formats. Graphic novels are just another borderless format, waiting to be picked up and experienced.
Living in an urban city has given me even more access to comic book stores. Before I always had to order online. Now through independent bookstores and main brand bookstores, I can one either support a local business or two support the artist and publishers themselves. The more I think about it I think I’d like to get into graphic novel publishing one day. Creating something so physically pleasing together with a team, in a community. Graphic novels and comic books are so colorful and I feel like I’m spread all over the place just flipping through books. Just as you can fall into art in a museum, I’ve fallen into art in literature.