MariNaomi is an Eisner Award–nominated and SPACE Award–winning cartoonist and the founder and administrator of the Cartoonists of Color, Queer Cartoonists, and Disabled Cartoonists databases. Their graphic novel Losing the Girl was among those banned in the Katy, Tex., school district in 2022. In May, Fieldmouse Press will publish their ninth book, the graphic memoir I Thought You Loved Me.

These books contain a variety of subjects, themes, moods, and styles, all queer books by queer authors. I’ve mixed it up in order to give an idea of how diverse queer comics can be, through my particular lens—my tastes skew toward mature personal narratives and indie artwork. It is in no way a complete list, just a taste.

1. 1001 Black Men by Ajuan Mance (Stacked Deck)

Mance’s book is a love letter to the Black men she deems as often overlooked by traditional media. Sometimes stories or poems accompany the portraits, sometimes the images speak for themselves.

2. Are You Listening? by Tillie Walden (First Second)

This dreamlike graphic novel, set in a magical version of West Texas, captures the budding friendship of a baby queer and an older lesbian. It shows us an emotional mentorship rarely seen, but one that is quite common among folks who are accustomed to seeking out chosen family.

3. Be Gay, Do Comics, edited by Matt Bors (IDW)

These comics originally appeared on the website The Nib and range from personal to historical, with an emphasis on narratives about feeling like the odd person out. The contributors are a veritable “who’s who” of contemporary cartoonists.

4. Blackward by Lawrence Lindell (Drawn & Quarterly)

Lindell’s story, about a ragtag group of friends trying to build community, is due out in September. It’s charming, joyful, and best of all, entertaining.

5. Fungirl by Elizabeth Pich (Silver Sprocket)

Fungirl is a walking id—your lovable, horrible, gross, sexy, charming ex who you can’t seem to get rid of. One of the most funbooks I’ve come across in some time.

6. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe (Oni)

Kobabe’s memoir about eir journey to define eir own gender is the most banned book of recent years. Enough said.

7. I’m a Wild Seed by Sharon Lee De La Cruz (Street Noise)

In this memoir, the author comes to terms with her sexuality with little fanfare. Despite its brevity, De La Cruz packs in a lot of information—from an explainer on intersectional feminism to the reasons why protecting Black trans lives is essential to preserving the safety of all marginalized groups.

8. Klaus Nomi: A Graphic Biography and Collaborative Anthology by Liz Yerby et al. (Sound Grounds Wreckin’ Crew)

New wave icon Klaus Nomi had an influential career that was cut short when he was one of the first celebrities to die of AIDS. Yerby collaborates with some phenomenal up-and-coming artists to create this stunning biography.

9. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki, illus. by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (First Second)

This beautiful YA graphic novel is a story about being strung along romantically and the friendships that can suffer because of it. The characters are relatably flawed.

10. The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen (Random House Graphic)

This tale of a Vietnamese American boy’s coming-out is told masterfully through gorgeously rendered fables. I make everyone read this book.

11. Marry Me a Little by Rob Kirby (Graphic Mundi)

Comics legend Kirby investigates his lifelong apathy toward marriage (all while he plans for his own wedding) and delves into the history of same-sex marriage in America.


12. Men I Trust by Tommi Parrish (Fantagraphics)

This is about the complicated friendship between a struggling poet and her adoring fan. Each page is a masterpiece.

13. Messy Roots by Laura Gao (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)

Gao, originally from Wuhan, China, writes about growing up in the U.S. as a queer woman and the unpleasant attitude they experienced from white Americans as the Covid-19 pandemic unfolded.

14. Our Wretched Town Hall by Eric Kostiuk Williams (Retrofit Comics)

Williams’s comics feel like being slapped gently awake by the most luminous of drag queens. This collection does not disappoint.

15. The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel (Mariner)

Bechdel documents her lifelong pursuit of physical endurance in order to bring the reader into her hyper-cerebral worldview. This is the masterpiece she came up with using her MacArthur grant—a worthy expenditure.

16. Smahtguy by Eric Orner (Metropolitan)

A graphic biography about the notorious congressman Barney Frank and his tormented, colorful path to unwittingly becoming a politician. Orner tells the story with frankness, wit, and compassion.

17. Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, illus. by Lisa Sterle (Greenwillow)

In this YA graphic novel, a group of high school it-girls bring the new girl into their werewolf pack, wherein they troll full-moon parties eating sex pests. I laughed, I cried, I laughed again.

18. Stone Fruit by Lee Lai (Fantagraphics)

A trans woman’s complicated relationships—with herself, her family, and her girlfriend—are rendered in linework so beautiful I had difficulty looking away. Lee’s exploration of boundaries really stuck with me.

19. The Third Person by Emma Grove (Drawn & Quarterly)

Grove details her meetings with her therapists as she sought out gender-affirming surgery, and the bumps in the road she was unprepared for. This nearly 900-page memoir is a riveting mystery that, despite its heft, goes by super quickly.

20. To Whoever Even Listen by Michiko Wild, with Lulu and Michiyo Gargiulo (self-published)

Wild teams up with their mother and aunt and draws on old letters and medical records to tell the story of their grandmother, Michiyo. Michiyo’s mental illness ties their lives together and paints a picture of generational trauma and displacement, as well as warmth, love, and patience. It’s a truly stellar debut.

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