The best graphic novels about self-discovery

Who am I?

I'm a queer author and illustrator who has always had a passion for unique and boundary-pushing comics and graphic novels. It's a genre that has spoken to me throughout my life and this list converges my love for the format as well as the subject matter that's impacted the most vulnerable and pivotal times of my own life. So much of my experience being alive has been about figuring out who I am, and that's what my own graphic novel deals with. It seems fitting that I'd recommend a list of books that details others doing the same as I have, but in their own way.

I wrote...

A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities

By Mady G, Jules Zuckerberg,

Book cover of A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities

What is my book about?

In this quick and easy guide to queer and trans identities, cartoonists Mady G and Jules Zuckerberg guide you through the basics of the LGBT+ world! Covering essential topics like sexuality, gender identity, coming out, and navigating relationships, this guide explains the spectrum of human experience through informative comics, interviews, worksheets, and imaginative examples. A great starting point for anyone curious about queer and trans life, and helpful for those already on their own journeys!

The books I picked & why

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One! Hundred! Demons!

By Lynda Barry,

Book cover of One! Hundred! Demons!

Why this book?

A funny yet sensitive memoir anthology telling the story of author Lynda Barry's young life, growing up in the turbulent 1960s. The artwork is vibrant and unique, featuring everything from sequined collages to ghostly sumi ink sketches. The book served as both a creative and therapeutic outlet for the author, as she states in the introduction, and this definitely comes across through her many coming-of-age tales within the volume. One of the first alternative comics I was ever exposed to. This book deals with themes of drugs and sex, just to mention. 

The Prince and the Dressmaker

By Jen Wang,

Book cover of The Prince and the Dressmaker

Why this book?

A beautifully drawn, full-color graphic novel about a dressmaker and a prince finding both commonality with each other as well as more about themselves in the process. It's a great modern fairytale that deals with themes of gender nonconformity and non-binary identity in a very honest yet tactful way. A must-have for parents of queer children or for the children themselves. A truly fun and engaging all-ages read.

No Ivy League

By Hazel Newlevant,

Book cover of No Ivy League

Why this book?

A modestly-paced and personally relatable tale of the author's experience volunteering for an invasive ivy cleanup crew. The semi-fictionalized account highlights various social struggles and teen drama as well as difficulties with personal identity along the way. The energy this book captures is palpable and it's very easy as a reader to be drawn into Hazel's retelling of their memorable experience throttling ivy with their peers, confronting their own fears and biases along the way.

The Pervert

By Michelle Perez,

Book cover of The Pervert

Why this book?

A truly singular book that details a semi-fictionalized account of a transgender sex worker surviving in Seattle. Depicted as a cute anthropomorphic dog-like creature, the story follows her as she meets with various clients and navigates her own identity struggles and in-progress transition (not to mention her own safety in her dangerous line of work). A deeply emotional and raw story that still manages to retain its own dark sense of humor throughout.

(Deals with themes of drugs, sex, and violence. 18+ only.)

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness

By Nagata Kabi,

Book cover of My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness

Why this book?

An inside look at lesbian culture and coming out as queer in Japan. A semi-autobiographical comic about a young lesbian discovering herself and the boundaries of her attraction all while juggling her own stressful life and self-image in a pressure-filled society. A tour-de-force in the autobio genre with a uniquely charming loose art style. A manga that will probably remain a queer classic for years to come.

(Deals with themes of sex.)

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