"Honor Girl" graphic novel by Maggie Thrash

Graphic Novels That Geek Gals Should Read

So, Geek Gals, with the coronavirus (COVID-19) changing travel plans and everything getting canceled (or going virtual), staying at home is now an attractive option. But wait! There’s still a way for you to escape!

If you have never read any graphic novels, now is the time. These illustrated novels contain adventure, history, humor, and of course, girl power.

Here is the list of graphic novels that geek gals should read:

A Contract with God, and Other Tenement Stories

Illustration from the 1978 graphic novel by Will Eisner, "A Contract with God, and Other Tenement Stories"
Illustration credit: Will Eisner

If you want to delve into graphic novels, you may as well start at the beginning of the best. Will Eisner coined the phrase “graphic novel” with A Contract with God, and Other Tenement Stories. Published in 1978, it’s the first in a trilogy that Eisner sets in a Bronx tenement in the 1930’s. It features residents of the building, struggling with everything from the death of a child to the swan song of an aging opera singer to a family off to vacation in the Catskills. Eisner explores many themes in these stories, such as Anti-Semitism and poverty. The illustrations are in black and white, matching the stark and gritty themes of the stories. Reading this will dispel any notion that graphic novels are just for teens or kids. 

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse

illustration from Charlie Mackesy's graphic novel, "The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse"
Illustration credit: Charlie Mackesy

Much in the same vein as Winnie the Pooh, this fantastic tale of a boy and the animals he befriends is perfect for when you need some hope and encouragement. Taken from an illustration that Charlie Mackesy posted on Instagram, the story of the boy, his journey and the wisdom he receives from his friends-the skeptical fox, the enthusiastic mole, and the sage horse is now a lovely graphic novel. The plot is simple, consisting of advice in hard times, how to keep hope alive, and building resilience. The illustrations are beautiful, and the calligraphy adds to its mystique. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse will transport you to a simple, cozy place.

March

Illustration of John Lewis' graphic novel triology, "March"
Graphic credit: Top Shelf Productions

I grew up in Georgia learned about John Lewis and his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. If you don’t know his story, pick up this trilogy and take a deep dive into African American history. The first book details his childhood in rural Alabama. The second book is about Lewis becoming involved in the Civil Rights Movement as a teen with Martin Luther King, Jr. And in the third book, the journey ends with the march on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama. That famous march on March 7, 1965 became the Bloody Sunday event that is still recognized in Selma. Colorful anecdotes such as Lewis taking care of chickens as a child and what working with King was like add to this rich chapter in our history. 

Parasite: A Graphic Novel in Storyboards

image of graphic novel of Bong Joon-ho's "Parasite"
Illustration credit: Bong Joon-ho

Fresh off his triumphant win at the Academy Awards in February where he won Best Director and Best Picture for Parasite, Bong Joon-ho released the storyboards for the movie as a graphic novel on May 2020. The book features his hand-drawn storyboards along with a foreword and behind the scenes information. If you loved the movie (and how could you not with its constantly shifting plot and outstanding acting), definitely snatch this up to get a glimpse on how Bong devised the story and shaped the movie. 

Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir

Illustration of "Honor Girl," a graphic novel by Maggie Thrash
Graphic credit: Maggie Thrash

Fifteen-year-old Maggie Thrash heads to Camp Bellflower for Girls for what she thinks is just another average summer at camp. But this summer is different! Maggie finds first love with counselor Erin and along with that, resistance to her coming out and being independent. This story of courage and bravery follows Maggie as she wants to be “Honor Girl,” or the top camper, but she also wants to be true to herself. This book is great to go back in time and relive first love, that flood of feelings, that magic…but also that confusion and uncertainty. Maggie is a great companion on this journey in Honor Girl. 

Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me

Illustration from Ellen Forney's "Marbles" graphic novel
Illustration credit: Ellen Forney

Ellen Forney shares her diagnosis of bipolar disorder at age 13, her treatments, and her recovery in this wonderful graphic novel. Based on her webcomic, Forney expands her story as she continually asks herself, does bipolar disorder hurt or help me as an artist? Addressing the issue of creativity and the effects of prescription medications on her mind, body, and spirit, Forney’s wicked sense of humor and ability to laugh at herself makes this a great read. Her honesty about her mental health is what we need! 

Conclusion

So Geek Gals, what looks good? Treat yourself and escape with wonderfully told stories and beautiful illustrations! You’re never too old for picture books. And chime in with any of your favorite graphic novels. I’m always looking for more to read! 

Let us know which graphic novels you’re reading on Twitter or in the comments below!

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Featured image credit: Maggie Thrash

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