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TRADE | Comics for People Who Think They Hate Comics

TRADE | Comics for People Who Think They Hate Comics

Hello, dear reader.

Are you not a fan of men in tights and capes?

Think it should take more than a pair of glasses to hide your identity?

Does all this add up to you assuming you hate comics?

Well, here are some comics you might NOT hate!

These comics have protagonists of all genders, sizes, races, and sexual orientations. They are more than a bunch of white guys solving crimes in tights, I swear. I didn’t grow up loving comic books, but through friends and family members (mostly my husband Sean and my friend Geoff), I have collected a bunch of comics that I freaking love! For your (hopefully) reading pleasure, here are my Top 10 Comics, in an alphabetized list because I didn’t want to play favorites. Though a lot of them feature crude language, nudity, and sex, not all of them do.

I tried to put something for everyone on this list!

And if you do love some good ol’ DC and Marvel heroes, you should still totally try these titles out. Who knows, you might love them even more!

1. Bitch Planet, created by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro

Number of Issues: 10

Synopsis: In a future where men run every aspect of life, women who are found to be “non-compliant”- aka not feminine enough, too fat, too thin, disrespectful, too prudish, too sexual, too loud, too shy, too “whatever-it-is-they’ll-judge-you-for-today”- are sent away to a whole other planet. Nicknamed Bitch Planet, the non-compliants (NC’s) are forced to live there in a prison served by abusive guards wearing creepy facial protection. They team up and fight the patriarchy from the confines of prison. And they seriously kick ass.

Why you should read it:

  1. The body positivity that exists within these pages is amazing! All shapes and sizes and races are represented and applauded, something which more comics should do. Love your body like a true non-compliant!
  2. Enjoy violence, nudity, and lots of swearing? This comic has all that in spades! It is definitely R-rated, and if you like to fuck the patriarchy, you will like Bitch Planet.
  3. To quote IO9: it is “the feminist exploitation comic you desperately need.” Pretty soon you’ll be writing “NC” on the covers of all your notebooks, or getting it tattooed on your beautiful bod!

2. Chew, created by John Layman and Rob Guillory

Number of Issues: 55

Synopsis: Poultry is outlawed, the FDA controls the country, and Tony Chu can know the history of something by eating it. If he eats a veggie, he knows what pesticides farmers used on it, where it was grown and harvested, etc. So the FDA hires him as a Special Crimes Division agent and makes him eat little pieces of murder victims to figure out who killed them, and how, so they can catch the killers.

Why you should read it:

  1. It’s super gross and also extremely clever, with a cast of interesting and outlandish characters.
  2. There are a MILLION ISSUES out! Do you like to binge-watch TV? Try binge-reading this comic. It’ll be hours of entertainment!
  3. Chew is wildly popular and has spawned a tabletop game and rumors of live-action and animated shows based on it. Read them now before they wind up on the air!

3. Lumberjanes, created by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, and Noelle Stevenson

Number of Issues: 27

Synopsis: Friends April, Mal, Molly, Ripley and Jo attend the Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady-Types, whose slogan is “Friendship to the MAX!” They encounter supernatural mysteries that they must solve while still getting their Lumberjane patches. They use their brains, their talents, and their friendship to fight mystical demons and dinosaurs too!

Why you should read it:

  1. It celebrates not just friendship, but also romantic relationships between its protagonists. Seeing a gay couple grace the pages of a comic without having it be a huge deal or needing it’s own after-school special is fantastic!
  2. It is gender inclusive. Male, female and transgender characters all grace the pages of Lumberjanes!
  3. Lumberjanes is hilarious and adorable, all at once. I think it would be great comic to start middle schoolers on.

*Read our full review at http://imaginarybookclub.com/trade-lumberjanes

4. Morning Glories, written by Nick Spencer, art by Joe Eisma

Number of Issues: 50

Synopsis: Morning Glory Academy is not what it seems. Rather than the best prep school for the best and brightest students, this school is full of crazy mysteries and lots of violence. There are stabbings, near-drownings, explosions, and hands-going-through-skulls. Morning Glories will have you saying “What the fuck?” every issue.

Why you should read it:

  1. It was one of the first comics that really hooked me, and I still want to know what the hell is going to happen!! And with 50 issues, it’s another comic that you can binge read.
  2. High schoolers are often the best characters full of angst and emotion. Throw in murder, sociopaths and lots of blood and you’ve got a winning combo!
  3. This is a great comic to get your friends into as well so you can call each other and go “what was that thing in the basement?!?” Because two minds are better than one.

5. Ms. Marvel, written by G. Willow Wilson, art by Adrian Alphona

Number of Issues: 19 (with Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel)

Synopsis: Kamala Khan is a normal Muslim teenage girl in Jersey City who becomes Ms. Marvel. She has to hide it from her conservative parents, and learn how to juggle her new super powers with her regular life, meaning school, parents, and going to the mosque. She has to find the strength within herself to save the city and the people she loves.

Why you should read it:

  1. Muslim. Female. Superhero. ALL THE YES! Girl power forever.
  2. Kamala is super realistic, like when she reassures herself in the middle of an epic battle “Just like a boss fight in World of Battlecraft…” She is witty and brave, even when she knows she’ll wind up grounded.
  3. Kamala is a nice change from the crazy muscular male superheroes of lore. As the world changes, it only makes sense that not every hero is a white adult male!

Read our full review at http://imaginarybookclub.com/my-kind-of-hero-ms-marvel

6. Paper Girls, written by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Cliff Chiang

Number of Issues: 9

Synopsis: On November 1, 1988, four 12-year old paper girls are out delivering papers when shit hits the fan. People start disappearing, weird mummy/alien looking creatures are running around speaking weird languages, pterodactyls fill the sky, and the Apple logo mysteriously appears. Is it the apocalypse? The rapture? An alien invasion? These girls don’t know, but they will fight like hell to find out.

Why you should read it:

  1. It’s like Stand By Me starring girls, and with, you know, all that crazy stuff described above. Nothing brings people together like the world possibly ending!
  2. I should have mentioned this about all the comics on this list, but oh man the art in this one is beautiful! If you shop purely by covers, you would buy Paper Girls in a heartbeat.
  3. This is such a retro read, with some serious sci-fi elements: a win-win in my book. Since it’s so new, you can get in early and wait with other fans for the next issues to be released. Come, join us, be one of us!

Read our full review at http://imaginarybookclub.com/trade-paper-girls-by-brian-vaughan-and-cliff-chiang

7. Rat Queens, written by Kurtis J. Wiebe, art by Roc Upchurch

Number of Issues: 16

Synopsis: The Rat Queens are an adventuring party made up of a smidgen, a reformed squid-god worshipper, the daughter or two necromancers, and a dwarf. They are foul-mouthed female fighters who drink and smoke and have sex with whomever they please. They don’t back down, and they defend one another to the end. Together they fight some really Big Bads and learn more about each other’s pasts.

Why you should read it:

  1. One of my favorite line of Violet’s: “I want to get drunk. I want to get high. I want to have sex with orc Dave. They can happen in any order or all at once.” (I would like to mention that orc Dave has birds that live in his beard. Adorable).
  2. Do you have issues with your parents? So do these girls! Be it worshipping a giant flying squid or expecting you to keep your dwarven beard and never fight, these girls don’t see eye to eye with their elders.
  3. Do you have a mature sense of humor? Then you will laugh. A lot. You will also hate Gary. You’ll see.

8. Sex Criminals, created by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

Number of Issues: 15

Synopsis: Suzie and Jon are two people with the same ability: When they have sex, they freeze time. Once they find each other, they use their time-freezing to rob banks to help fund their library before the bank takes it. What they don’t count on is other people with the same ability, people who want to stop their plan: the sex police.

Why you should read it:

  1. Suzie’s description of trying to learn about sex in public school will relate to SO many of us. It’s hilarious and terrible at the same time. A girl teaches her several, erm…interesting sexual positions via illustration. This has inspired some fans to call themselves Brimpers, after one particularly memorable move.
  2. The beginning of their relationship is something we can all relate to, especially their all day text convo.
  3. Suzie and Jon are really loveable characters, even if Jon enjoys defecating in his boss’s plant every day.

9. The Wicked + The Divine, written by Kieron Gillen, art by Jamie McKelvie

Number of Issues: 22

Synopsis: Every 90 years, 12 young people discover they are reincarnated gods. They discover they have special powers and skills, but they also only have two years to live. Then they will die, only to be reincarnated again in another 90 years. Some people worship and love them, some people are nonbelievers who hate them. They are famous, but not everyone wants them to last the full two years.

Why you should read it:

  1. Lucifer coming back as a David Bowie-esque female named Luci is a clever way to update mythology. And her look is on point!
  2. It’s a very realistic take on what would happen if gods walked among us, which is a super interesting topic. Would you be a believer?
  3. You need to read it before it hits TV! The rights have been optioned by Universal, and Matt Fraction (of Sex Criminals) and Kelly Sue DeConnick (of Bitch Planet) are developing the TV adaptation, so you KNOW it’s gonna be freaking amazing!

10. The Unwritten, written by Mike Carey, art by Peter Gross

Number of Issues: 71

Synopsis: Wilson Taylor wrote the magical Tommy Taylor novels that are widely beloved (think Harry Potter status), and then he mysteriously went missing. His son, Tom Taylor, is believed to be the inspiration behind Tommy. But maybe, just maybe, he really IS Tommy, and he really has magic within his reach. When characters from the books start showing up in his life, Tom must figure out who he really is before it’s too late.

Why you should read it:

  1. In the first trade, Mark Twain, Frankenstein, Rudyard Kipling, and Oscar Wilde are all mentioned. If you love classic lit, you will love this.
  2. With the most issues of any comic on this list, you can get lost in Tommy Taylor’s world for a long, long time.
  3. The mix of real life and fantasy is brilliant, and will have you hooked within the first pages, I guarantee!

What’d we miss?

Do you have a favorite comic that we didn’t manage to cover? What was the first comic that got you into comics?

About The Author

Austyn

Austyn is an aspiring mystery writer as well as a reader of all things at Imaginary Book Club; providing a range of book reviews, recommendations, and her personal take on the greats. Austyn is an avid reader of graphic novels, mysteries, and classics. Between her day job and writing, Austyn doesn't have much time to connect with an in-person book club, but loves taking those discussion online. 

2 Comments

  1. Bev

    I’ve been thinking about reading Ms Marvel. I listened to a podcast about the book on NPR and it intrigued me. I’m not usually a fan of comics but, now with two recommendations, I might try this one!

    Reply
    • Whitney

      I wish I’d remembered this while you were in town! I would have definitely passed on a copy!

      Reply

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