With the majority of comic books and their big screen adaptions nowadays being mostly male-centric, it’s harder and harder to justify the comic world as anything other than a boys club. This is really frustrating, but comic books are a medium which have seen thair fair share of female-centric stories: not only in a superhero sense but also in a more realistic, autobiographical manner. Here are some of the more important and influential feminist comic books to remind you that it’s more than just a man’s world.
Being widely known for the Bechdel test, Alison Bechdel is due way more credit for her wide, acclaimed output. While the wealth of her work is undeniable, her magnum opus is easily Fun Home. The book is centered around the death of her father, a closeted homosexual through the 60’s and 70’s, and how this relates to Bechdel’s coming to terms with her own sexual identity. Told masterfully through a series of flashbacks, the novel follows an almost stream of consciousness style that beautifully works in memory and recollections to tell this intensely personal and melancholic tale.
Created by Jamie Hewlett, better known for being the visual side of cartoon band Gorillaz, Tank Girl is one of the more delightfully anarchic series to come from the comic book world. Set in a post apocalyptic Australia, it involves the titular character and her mutated kangaroo boyfriend being hunted by her former employer through all sorts of bizarre adventures. Filled to the brim with pop culture references, Tank Girl is a superhero comic that gleefully makes havoc of convention.
Telling the story of a woman’s coming of age in the years following the islamic revolution, Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel is an important entry in the autobiographical genre. Exploring both the contextual culture of her nation at the time but also how this related to her own personal experiences with her family, the story is at times both incredibly maudlin but also hits some hilarious and bittersweet moments. Satrapi both wrote and illustrated the book, in beautiful black and white that blends both western illustration style with middle eastern flair.
The longest running series on this list, Love and Rockets holds the title of being one of the most influential alternative comics to exist. While it may have begun centered around the off-kilter tales of Maggie the mechanic, the series became host to a whole number of disparate storylines that all weaved in and out of one another. Still running to this day, the Hernandez Brothers world of magical realism continues to expand.
While many graphic novels utilize the medium as a means of personal catharsis, none are more intensely confronting than this book by Bryan Talbot. Based upon people from his own life, the story concerns Helen Potter, a victim of sexual abuse from a young age, and her leaving her childhood home. The book brings to light the everyday struggles of such victims, told in a sympathetic yet realistic manner.