I’m not sure why, but the comics scene in particular is one where truly fantastic queer stories and art blossom into existence. While many are familiar with some of the more depressing entries in the comics canon (Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home comes to mind), there is a wealth of fun, feel-good queer comics, too!
This list is far from comprehensive, but is a great starting point for those looking for some LGBTQ elements along with a big helping of hope and comedy.
The Avant-Guards Written by Carly Usdin, Illustrated by Noah Hayes
This is just one of many sports-themed books on this list. I wonder what it is about sports teams that attract queer fictional characters? Whatever it is, this is a trope I’m totally here for. (Bonus rec for those who adore close-knit sports teams with homoerotic subtext: the delightful anime Kuroko no Basuke.)
Charlie just transferred to a historically women’s college, where sports teams haven’t garnered enough interest to be formed. Yet. When she meets Liv, type A actress and aspiring basketball player, the Avant-Guards will do everything to recruit her to create the first official basketball team.
Adorable, laugh-out-loud funny, and beautifully diverse in every way, The Avant-Guards is a gorgeous queer comic in a refreshing utopia of acceptance, love, and teamwork.
Bingo Love written by Tee Franklin, illustrated by Joy San and Jenn St. Ange
Hey, even feel good books can make you cry. Happy tears, that is. This is basically The Notebook but with cute brown ladies and a better ending. (There, I said it.) Hazel and Mari meet as children at church bingo, and it’s something special at first sight. But the world always hasn’t been so kind. Circumstances keep them apart, like ignorant family members and societal bias. But they might just meet again after spending whole lives apart, and make up for the time they’ve lost.
Fence Written by C.S. Pacat, Illustrated by Johanna the Mad and Joana LaFuente
Another slow burn romance, Fence follows Nicholas Cox, a fencing competitor bursting with raw talent. Problem is, he hasn’t had enough proper training to be the best. The best actually happens to be Seiji Katayama. Handsome, prodigal, and serious to a fault, he begins to notice the rising talent of Nicholas. Will they ever be more than opponents—or even some more than platonic? Swoon.
Who knew fencing could be a sexy sport?
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
This has been all over the “best of” queer comics lists of the year, and for good reason. The Prince and the Dressmaker is not only spellbinding in its flowing, unique art style, it tells a story that will grab your heart and not let go.
Prince Sebastian has big shoes to fill. He is expected to marry and one day become king. But little do the royal courts know, his secret pleasure is living under the moniker of Lady Crystallia, a flawless fashion icon among the Parisian elite. He is able to live two lives with the help of his new dressmaker, Frances, who designs the glorious gowns Lady Crystallia wears at night. But secrets have a way of getting out, and Frances and Sebastian have much to lose.
Girl Town by Carolyn Nowak
Carolyn Nowak’s strange, eclectic collection of short comic stories is breathtaking. Heartbreaking at times, bursting with joy at others, Girl Town explores what it means to be a girl while introducing fantastical new worlds and situations. In one story, (my favorite) Diana buys a robot boyfriend and finds herself falling in love. In another, Kelly and Beth attend a fantasy market with all sorts of goods. Each story is a little trip into a new world, some that will stick with you for a long time afterwards.
Another one of my favorite things about this collection is how Nowak draws the feminine body, illustrating all shapes, sizes, and colors with love and care.
Open Earth Written by Sarah Mirk, Illustrated by Eva Cabrera and Claudia Aguirre
This is for the more erotically inclined of you out there. Open Earth tells the story of one woman discovering her sexuality on a spaceship centuries in the future. In this future, polyamory and all kinds of sexuality are much more accepted, but relationships can still get messy.
Featuring lots of sex, a diverse cast, and a vision of a strange but familiar future, this is a fun ride. (No pun intended.)
Check, Please by Ngozi Ukazu
Last sports themed entry on the list, I swear! This supremely adorable web comic turned graphic novel centers Eric Bittle as he arrives at college and takes his place on the hockey team. Previously an ice skater, Eric isn’t used to the rough plays of hockey and fears being hurt on the ice. Thankfully, legacy hockey prodigy Jack is captain of the team and there to assuage Eric’s fears. Only thing is, Eric is maybe a little (a lot) in love with him.
Laugh-out-loud funny and with some of the most realistic dialogue I’ve seen in a graphic novel, this is taking the comics world by storm for a reason.
Mooncakes Written by Suzanne Walker, Illustrated by Wendy Xu
Nova Huang is a witchcraft expert. She works at her grandma’s bookshop, a special one that loans out spell books and helps unearth mysteries in their supernatural town. When exploring such a mystery, she finds her childhood crush Tam, who is in a bit of trouble. Together, they rekindle their friendship (and maybe more?) as they try to stop cults, demons, and other otherworldly foes. Charming, inclusive, and so much fun.
More Queer Comics?
Enjoy these gems and keep your eye out for more! Comics, especially indie ones, are a wonderful medium that always seem to attract all types of representation and stories. If you like this type of content, look further and check out other posts like 12 Exceptional Comics About Trans and Genderqueer People and Read Harder: A Comic by an LGBTQIA Creator.