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If these five signs are, 2021 will be an amazing year for queer graphic novels and memoirs. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on early copies of these books and now I scream about it at everyone I know and get many “reassurance!” Eyebrows raised by friends. (Just to make it very clear, you’ll want to pre-order these books asap.) If you enjoy telling graphic stories of any kind, you’ll love it. These five books vary widely in terms of genre and content, but they are all exceptional in their own way. From a historical, bold positive sapphic romance to a collection of oral stories about queer and transorganization to an introspective contemporary about family and parenting, these 2021 queer comics tell a wide and beautiful range of stories.

Patience & Esther: An Edwardian Romance by SW Searle (available now!)

In need of an adorable, funny, thoughtful, fat positive, erotic sapphic romance in your life? Obviously. Set in Edwardian England against the backdrop of the growing women’s suffrage movement, this charming story follows Patience and Esther, two women who meet and fall in love while working on duty on a large estate. As the book progresses, they move to London, participate in the franchise, and slowly build a life together. It deals with some real-world topics, including the racism of the well-meaning white women who preoccupy them, but overall, it’s a very smooth, upbeat read with a happy ending, impotent romance, and beautifully drawn sex scenes.

Cover of Red Rock Baby Candy by Shira Spector

Red Rock Baby Candy by Shira Spector (Fantagraphics, March 23)

I honestly have no idea how to describe these memoirs; It’s unlike any graphic storytelling I’ve ever experienced before. On the surface, it’s a beautiful and intricate story of loss, grief, and healing. Spector recounts the years she spent getting pregnant while her father also died of cancer. It’s a book about queer parenting, Jewish identity, partnership, artists, family and much more. It’s not linear or sequential. Each page feels like its own work of art. There are so many styles, so many levels for both art and history. Open it up for each page and you will be presented with an explosion of colors, images and words. It is a truly one of a kind book that has so much to think about and that you will definitely want to read again.

Cover of stone fruit by Lee Lai

Stone Fruit by Lee Lai (Fantagraphics, May 11)

I’m always looking for books on the chaotic real estate of queer families, and this book is exactly what it is. Brown and Ray are an odd couple who love to be aunts to Ray’s 6-year-old niece, Nessie. When you spend time with Nessie, you can be yourself, away from the sometimes difficult realities of your life together. But when their relationship changes, so does their time with Nessie. They spend more time apart and they both reconnect with their sisters. It’s a calm, chaotic, expansive story of how families grow and change, and the forms love can take. The art is sparse and expressive; The way Lai illustrates emotional truths that are difficult to say with words is breathtaking. The sheer humanity of this story took my breath away. It’s a book about ordinary moments, about the daily joys and struggles of partnership and parenting – but it’s anything but ordinary.

The cover of our work is all over by Syan Rose

Our work is everywhere by Syan Rose (Arsenal Pulp Press, April 6th)

There are so many things in this beautiful collection of oral traditions: a celebration, an inspiration, a witness, a call to action. Queer artist Syan Rose visited and interviewed queer and trans organizers, activists, artists and healers from around the country and presented her words and stories in this book. Each piece feels like a gift. From a fat, queer theater collective and an overworked sex worker activism to strong reflections on the healing practices of the black femme, every play is full of wisdom and power. Rose’s art is transcendent; it not only adds to the words, but merges and merges with them. This is a book that focuses on queer and trans-colored people. It is a beautiful and messy real collection of works, words and prayers. It pays tribute to the radical work of our queer and trans elders and offers a vision for a queer future that is defined by intersectional organization, shared joy and care in the community.

Cover of Pixels of You by Ananth Hirsh, Yuko Ota and JR Doyle

Pixels of You by Ananth Hirsh, Yuko Ota and JR Doyle (amulet, November 9th)

I love a science fiction book that explores big questions about what it means to be a human by telling stories about AI characters. This YA comic takes place in a future where both AI and human magnification are commonplace. He follows two girls, Indira and Fawn, who work in the same art gallery. Indira is a person who was cybernetically enhanced after an accident. Fawn is a human presenting AI. At first they mostly ignore each other, but when they are forced to work together on a project they form a temporary friendship that slowly evolves into something else. It’s a cute love story, but it also explores a lot of big topics and never feels clunky. It’s about trauma and art and how identity manifests and does not manifest in the body. The characters are wonderfully real and the balance between humor and joking against serious moments is perfect.

Can’t you wait for these titles? There are tons of weird comics, graphic novels, and memoirs to read right now! Here are some to get you started: 10 Queer Comics and Manga That Made 2020 Bearable, 9 Queer YA Comics, 8 Queer Comics and Graphic Novels to Make You Comfortable, and 2019 LGBTQ Comics and Graphic Novels.

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