Graphic Novels by Women that You Should Read Now (Seriously)

Apparently publishing companies are finally catching on to something we’ve known for a while: Women read, too! Specifically graphic novels, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.

Until recently, graphic novel subject matter has skewed remarkably male. Much like other male-dominated industries, publishers have been shooting themselves in the boot by ignoring a huge faction of their potential audience. But when girls and women make up so much of the reading population, we can’t imagine why publishing companies wouldn’t put their dollars towards more lady-centric projects—and it looks as though things are changing.

We were happy to see Raina Teigmeier, whose autobiographical works Smile and Sisters have struck a major chord with adolescent girls, highlighted in the piece (as well as a few other female authors with forthcoming graphic novels). A particularly exciting one? The Handmaid’s Tale is coming out in full-color illustration! #MargaretAtwoodForever

To tide you over until this slew of new publications arrives at bookstores or Amazon shelves, check out these incredible graphic novels (and memoirs) written by and for women you can dive into right now:

1)   Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Time’s best book of 2006 was, in fact, this graphic memoir by the Dykes to Watch Out For cartoonist and MacArthur Genius Alison Bechdel. Bechdel’s exploration of her childhood, her sexuality and her relationship with her father has become examplary of the success of the intellectual graphic novel. If you’re into a full-circle experience of a story, look out for Fun Home’s musical theater adaptation on Broadway this spring.

2)   Saga, written by Brian K. Vaughan, Illustrated by Fiona Staples

If you are super into Star Wars but don’t think those movies have enough ass-kicking ladies or magic, this is the comic book series for you. There are currently four volumes on the shelves, each one violent, hilarious, sexy and—sometimes heartbreakingly—relevant. Because where else could be a better place to explore real-world issues like racial discrimination and child slavery than fantasy-space?

3)   Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole Georges

This memoir goes in and out of flashbacks of growing up queer in Middle America while Georges details her current relationship problems and discovery that her father—her real father, whose true identity her mother never exposed—is still alive. The black-and-white illustrations are beautiful and drawn ever so slightly simpler in her flashback pages, showcasing the distance and coldness she still feels from those times.

4)   Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

This autobiographical coming-of-age tale is set in Iran during and after the Islamic Revolution of the 70s and 80s. Marji’s normal adolescent issues are juxtaposed with her experience in and escape from a totalitarian regime. Satrapi also impressively co-directed the 2007 animated film of the same name.

5)   What It Is by Lynda Barry

This book is less a narrative and more an exploration of meaning; it’s about the relationship between words and objects and thoughts, about what happens to the creative urge once someone has reached adulthood. Each page is a beautiful, full-color collage of thoughts and guidelines to the creative process.

There are, obviously, many more awesome graphic novels written by women, and many more to come. Did we miss one you consider to be essential? Tell us in the comments!

Images courtesy of The Wall Street Journal and Goodreads.

Book Review: Madonna and Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop


Reviewed by Maria Elena Buszek

Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop

Edited by Laura Barcella

(Soft Skull)

If the way the Interwebz blew up the minute she hit the stage at the 2012 Super Bowl is any indication, Madonna has not lost her ability to provoke and fascinate—even as she approaches the end of her third decade as a pop icon. This fact is on abundant display in the new anthology Madonna and Me, edited by journalist (and BUST contributor) Laura Barcella.

The 40 contributing authors, artists, and activists range from Texas-born grandma Gloria Feldt to Pakistani-born satirist Soniah Kamal, and largely zero in on what Feldt calls Madonna’s willingness to speak sexual truth to power. Specifically, the “power” of patriarchy to control women’s sexuality, which Madonna has publicly defied in her sexually-charged music and performances, her AIDS activism, and her style of motherhood.

In fact, the theme of Madonna’s motherhood reoccurs throughout Madonna and Me, with all the conflicting messages that entails. Those conflicts are the most interesting parts of the book, which is no hagiography. Many contributors first look to Madonna as a (sexual, spiritual, professional) “mother,” only to grow frustrated or disappointed with, and ultimately apart from her over the years. Yet, they suggest, we still seek her out, almost despite ourselves, as a touchstone of ideal femininity. As the reliably snarky critic Cintra Wilson admits in her contribution: love her or loathe her, “after 25 years, Madonna is still at the forefront of our cultural consciousness, and that, as well as I can guess, is the point of Madonna: She always wins.”

Bitch Is the New Black: A Memoir

The title of this sardonic essay collection refers to the phrase coined by Tina Fey during a Saturday Night Live monologue defending Hillary Clinton. That Helena Andrews is black adds a spin to the catchphrase; it resonates with her sense of what it's like to be boxed into a stereotypical category.

Read more: Bitch Is the New Black: A Memoir

The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee

Sarah Silverman's memoir does all the things that shouldn't work: she's sparse on emotion, prolific with excruciating details, and even explains some of her jokes. Yet somehow, like her comedy, it's so wrong it's just right.

Read more: The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee

Elegies for the Brokenhearted: A Novel

Mary Murphy grows up in a small town in the midst of an economic downturn as the daughter of a reluctant young mother who was impregnated by her alcoholic boyfriend on prom night.

Read more: Elegies for the Brokenhearted: A Novel



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