When I was writing about Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Yukio in Deadpool 2, I noted that LGBT folks and our relationships are almost always treated as indecent and adult regardless of the situation. This is a disservice to us all, robbing popular media of multilayered, realistic portrayals of LGBT people. But the most harm is undoubtedly done to young LGBT kids looking to be a little less lonely. So, in the spirit of the season I bring to you six all-ages appropriate titles for everyone to enjoy.
Now as I’ve pointed out in my other all-ages list, my own parents never regulated my reading so use your own judgement regarding these titles.
Princess Princess Ever After
Katie O’Neil writes a classic fairy tale for all ages in Princess Princess Ever After. Her story opens with Princess Amira finding Princess Sadie locked away in a tower. After the former rescues the latter, they go out adventuring together and learn more about one another. They dance with an ogre, rescue a prince, and win Sadie’s kingdom back from her wicked sister. Princess Princess Ever After is a comic about growing up, learning who you are, and standing up for yourself.
O’Neil’s art is smooth, simple, and playful. Her line work is strong, her colors brilliant, and her aesthetic adorable all without being cloying. The comic is as much a delight to look upon as it is to read. A sweet story sure to enchant readers of any and every age. And if you don’t mind missing some print-only content, you can read it online right here.
Hamal is a sweet, hardworking gardener who works at a local nursery. He enjoys his work and being with his friends. But what he doesn’t know is that his best friend Blue is madly in love with him. Also Blue is dead. But Hamal knows that. See along with his talent for gardening, Hamal can also interact with ghosts. With his kind and easygoing disposition, Hamal helps out lost spirits that would otherwise be distraught and alone. But when something goes in the land of the dead, it’s up to Blue and Hamal to figure out what’s wrong, all the while fuguring out their feelings for one another.
Taproot by Keezy Young is a charming story about love, life, and death. Young’s art is detailed and lush, perfect for a world of living plants and dead people. What’s more, her art moves well between the physical and the ethereal. The living world is grounded and earthy, while the world of the spirits is light and flows like mist. Such contrasts make for a beautiful and varied aesthetic. And what’s more this artistic balance only emphasizes Taproot‘s themes: what it means to love and to grow.
My Brother’s Husband
In Gengoroh Tagame‘s comic we meet Yaichi, a divorcee raising his daughter in a quiet suburb. His life is calm, happy, and predictable; so he’s at a bit of a loss when Mike Flanagan, his brother’s widower, arrives on his doorstep. Yaichi’s brother, Ryoji, left Japan a decade before and the brothers are quietly estranged. But Ryoji’s death has inspired his husband to travel back and visit the places in which Ryoji grew up. Now Yaichi must confront his discomfort with his dead brother, their relationship (or lack thereof), and his new house guest. But as Yaichi learns about Mike he gains a new understanding of his brother.
Tagame illustrates My Brother’s Husband with an attractive balance of strength and delicacy. Characters have real weight and presence to them, while their expressions maintain a certain softness and subtlety. Tagame brings the city to life with beautiful detailing and a strong sense of realism, using his considerable talents to bring a touching story to life.
Jem and the Holograms
Yes, Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell bring Jem and the Holograms of absurd cartoon fame to the world of comics. While the all-ages comic is conceptually similar to the TV show, it’s firmly grounded in the 21st century; along with a Holographic A.I. Jem’s band use social media and cellphones. Such a take on the classic risks feeling gimmicky or hollow, but Thompson and Campbell manage to incorporate the show’s 1980s sensibilities into the modern world seamlessly. Furthermore, the sheer joy they take in creating the comic’s musical-sci-fi genre is simply infectious.
But along with updating the technology, they have also taken a new look at the cast. Here LGBT characters abound, with Kimber and Stormer as star-crossed lovers and a new trans member of the Misfits. In a comic all about taking chances and living your life to the fullest, this new take on old characters fits perfectly.
Campbell’s art helps shape the comic’s distinct candy-colored aesthetic. Here, music appears as fluid waves of color, synergy flickers to glowing life, and we are presented with a variety of body types all illustrated with grace and care. But perhaps most impressive is the delightful fashion; from neon locks to stunning silhouettes every character has their own distinct look. And of course so does every artist. Whether it’s Campbell with her relaxed line-work, Jen Bartel‘s clean and clear aesthetics, Meredith McClaren‘s stylized sharpness, or Gisele Lagace‘s rounded forms, Jem and the Holograms is always a joy.
The Prince and the Dressmaker
Set sometime in late 19th-early 20th century Paris, Jen Wang‘s all-ages comic The Prince and the Dressmaker is an absolutely enchanting story about identity, friendship, and fashion. Wang brings together the talented young seamstress Francis and the genderqueer prince Sebastian. Wang has said that she thinks of Sebastian as genderqueer and he says that some days he feels like a princess instead of a prince, though it is worth noting that she tried not to pin any particular identity on the young monarch. Francis meanwhile catches Sebastian’s attention with her fearless vision and undeniable skill. Their relationship soon moves from professional to personal as the pair become best friends in this glamorous coming-of-age tale.
Wang’s art sings with sweeping form and vivid color. Fabric flows and hangs beautifully, characters express emotion with organic expression, and Paris shines with lively atmosphere. Unsurprisingly Wang really excels when it comes to fashion. She has a flair for drama and design that transforms her characters, making them truly larger than life. Whether illustrating a monastic cowl or a frilly bathing costume Wang knows how to let her characters dress to impress. My personal favorite ensemble is Sebastian’s black beaded number for the theatre. The Prince and the Dressmaker is the perfect story for outcasts, fashionistas, and anyone trying to find their way.
At Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, aforementioned hardcore lady types can earn badges for cake decorating, telling ghost stories, and taking nature walks. They can also rock out with mermaids, befriend gods, and wake ancient spirits of questionable morality. You know, typical camp stuff. Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shanon Watters, and Brooklyn A. Allen bring us an all-ages comic that is unapologetically queer. With LGBT characters of all stripes, Miss Qiunzella’s is truly a place for everyone and anyone, regardless of whom they love or who they are.
Allen’s art brings the camp, the woods, the girls, and the monsters to brilliant life with playful, lively line work. Expressions are loose and charming, backgrounds range from bright and colorful to dark and foreboding. Furthermore character designs are unique and eye-catching, perfect for an ensemble series. No matter when you pick it up, Lumberjanes is sure to transport you to right summer vacation.