All three of these Graphic Novels have LGBTQ+ representation in them and I wanted to give them some attention during Pride Month.
Heartstopper Vol 1
Author: Alice Oseman
Publication Date: October 2018
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Rep: LGBTQ+ (Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian)
Synopsis: Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?
Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore, and he’s sort of got a boyfriend, even if he’s kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret.
Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together.
They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…
From the author of Solitaire and Radio Silence comes a bind up of the first two chapters of Heartstopper, an ongoing webcomic.
OMG, this comic ❤ I just absolutely adored it. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect when I ordered it – I only knew that everyone seemed to love it. It was so worth the hype.
The art style is cute and simple. I had expected full-colour art, but it kept it simple with grey/black/white. Each character was expressive and you could see each individual’s personality. I never got anyone confused – although everyone was drawn differently, this can still be a problem with less expressive art styles.
I fell in love with Charlie and Nick instantly. Charlie is shy, but somehow confident. People love him – which was a nice change from people hating on someone who is out as gay. Nick is fun-loving and, to me, looked like a loveable teddy bear! I loved seeing the beginning of this friendship and that ending ❤ my heart!!
The second this Volume ending I quickly went on Book Depository and ordered the next one!
My Brother’s Husband Vol 1
Author: Gengoroh Tagame
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Manga, Adult
Rep: LGBTQ+ (Gay), Own Voices
Synopsis: Yaichi is a work-at-home suburban dad in contemporary Tokyo; formerly married to Natsuki, father to their young daughter, Kana. Their lives suddenly change with the arrival at their doorstep of a hulking, affable Canadian named Mike Flanagan, who declares himself the widower of Yaichi’s estranged gay twin, Ryoji. Mike is on a quest to explore Ryoji’s past, and the family reluctantly but dutifully takes him in. What follows is an unprecedented and heartbreaking look at the state of a largely still-closeted Japanese gay culture: how it’s been affected by the West, and how the next generation can change the preconceptions about it and prejudices against it.
First off, I want to make note that this manga is NOT meant for a younger audience – or at least not those unwilling to see male genitalia.
Now that that is out of the way… this manga is AMAZING! It talks about content that is relevant, not only in Japan but around the world. Unfortunately, there are many who are afraid/unwilling to accept those who are different. In Japan, we learn the culture is different and very much stigmatizes the LGBTQ+ community. We get to see this culture from Yaichi’s POV. We get to see his original prejudice and how he experiences the grief of the loss of his brother. We also get to experience his daughter’s, Kana, POV and thoughts on her new, foreign uncle and him being married to a man.
Kana is the cutest little girl imaginable. She is so openminded and innocent that you can’t help but love her. She forces Yaichi to think differently about the world. Mike is the cutest, burliest Canadian man on the planet! I couldn’t help but smile when he was in a panel – or cry at one point.
The art style is perfect for this storyline. It is not too old school that I find it unappealing, but not too cutesy to undermine what is happening. Each character was expressive and it allowed you to get a feel for their personalities. No one reacted the same or had the same facial expressions.
I can’t wait to get my hands on Volume 2. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in different cultural views on LGBTQ+. I found this to be a similar manga to read so this would be an easy one to jump into if you were curious about the format – just keep in mind the nudity.
Fresh Romance Vol 1
Author: Sarah Kuhn, Kate Leth, Sarah Vaughn, Sally Ann Thompson, Trungles, Sarah Winifred Searle
Publication Date: August 3rd, 2016
Genre: Contemporary, Magical Realism, Historical Fiction, Adult
Rep: LGBTQ+ (Lesbian)
Synopsis: The critically-acclaimed anthology FRESH ROMANCE is finally available in print! Have you been wondering what the fuss is all about? FRESH ROMANCE is an exciting collection of romance comics from some of comics most talented creators, including Kate Leth, Arielle Jovellanos, Sarah Vaughn, Sarah Winifred Searle, Sarah Kuhn, Marguerite Bennett, and Trungles. From unhappy historical marriages to covert teenage romances, there’s something for everyone in FRESH ROMANCE.
Overall this was cute. I picked this up on a whim because my library had it on the LGBTQ+ display. Turns out only the first story was. There were five stories in total – which I will talk about individually since each had a different art style/genre and were not connected.
School Spirit: magic, f/f romance 5/5
This was by far my favourite story. This follows four teens in high school. At first you think it’s something along the lines of Archie, where two girls are fighting over one guy but are still friends. This story turns out to be way more than that. The two girls fighting over one guy are actually in a relationship. Plus one of the other girls is a witch (or something along those lines). The art style was cute, but similar to the newer Archie comics. Overall, this would be a PG-PG13 story.
Ruined: historical romance, only partial story – also nudity 3/5
This one I did enjoy, but I wasn’t sure of it at first. It has Pride and Prejudice feels to it – simply because of the time and the dialogue. We follow a new couple, mostly from her perspective. We find out that the arranged marriage is the “only” option for her. The story keeps alluding to some affair that the main character had, but gives no other detail. We get a little insight from her letters from this gentleman, but that’s it. We are left wondering what happened to her to cause her to react to things the way she does, what’s up with his family/household/him, and why everyone is treating her the way they are (which really links back to what happened to her). I was not happy with the fact that this was only part one of a story within an anthology. Since this is from a web-series, why couldn’t they have included something that was complete – or give us the entire story? The art style fits the story’s time, but not one of my favourites. This has full nudity of both sexes.
The Ruby Equation: magic 4/5
This one was my next favourite. It again had a cutesier art style. It follows, what can only be described as another dimensional humanoid who is on Earth to help us find love. Not exactly Cupid, but a similar idea. She is very mathematical about the pairings and is working towards her final few couplings in order to move on to another mission/dimension. This one was cute, fun, and quick.
Beauties: twist on Beauty & the Beast – just kinda meh 3/5
This one was just a twist of Beauty & the Beast if Beauty was one of three sisters and Beast was caught in her father’s garden. That’s it. Not much here, it was fine. The art style was perfect for a fairytale setting.
First, Last, and Always: magic, story too short 3/5
This one was WAY too short. I think it was only 4-5 pages. It was so short I didn’t think it was actually a story, but maybe concept art – there were interviews in between each story, so when I got to the end of the last interview it seemed like too few of pages left. This one I wanted way more – more of the magic, more about the main character. The concept of this one is that the main character has premonitions. When she has her first kiss with someone she also experiences their last. She describes three or four kisses and then it’s done. By the time I realize it was a magical element and not just her imagination, the story was done. If this was longer it would have likely been my favourite.
Overall, the anthology was fine. I wanted more overall. More LGBTQ+ rep, simply because I was under the impression that was the entire graphic novel. I wanted more to the stories – since one was too short and the other was only partially completed. I may check out their web-series if only to skim through and find more of my favourites and finish off the Ruined series to find out what happened.
Let me know what you think. Have you read any of these? Will you be picking any of them up? Should I be on the lookout for other Graphic Novels/Manga?