Recommend comics for my daughter
November 13, 2015 2:02 PM   Subscribe

13 year old likes comics and would like to read more. Likes/dislikes below:

She's read a lot of graphic novels I've brought home from the library and likes most of them fine. She skips the super "messagy" ones or history books loosely disguised as comics. She is also a fan of like, comic strips, although she's exausted most of the well-known options.

Recently she's super loved:

Sandman (finished/loved series)
Elf Quest (read/loved first 4 book/collections)
Squirrel Girl (she was very into the humor aspect here. We still have more of these to read but since they're not at the library it may take a while for her to afford these)
Ms Marvel
What If?

She's a very strong reader so there's no real limitation on length or like, baroque-ness level, but she does enjoy some relatively mindless (but smartly mindless) entertainment.

My bias is toward feminist, artistically interesting, etc, so those are priories, but part of why I'm asking is so you all can tell me about some stuff that may not fully hit all those marks but is still cool.
posted by latkes to Media & Arts (43 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Forgot to add she read the entirety of Larp Trek in one sitting. So yeah, funny + Star Trek = ++++ for her. Also she likes math. Also cool costumes. I think that's the big stuff.
posted by latkes at 2:04 PM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've been pushing Lumberjanes on all the tween girls I know (it's also fun for adults.)
the Bone series is at least allegedly for slightly younger kids, but this thirtysomething really enjoyed it.
I haven't read it but I've heard good things about the Amulet series.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 2:08 PM on November 13, 2015 [10 favorites]

Nimona Nimona Nimona NIMONA!!!
posted by the_blizz at 2:10 PM on November 13, 2015 [13 favorites]

These have adult themes, but are on par with Sandman,all super story driven and very woman friendly.

Y the Last Man, Brian K Vaughn
Promethea, Alan Moore
posted by Requiax at 2:12 PM on November 13, 2015

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur comes out two weeks from today, I think. It looks awesome.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:26 PM on November 13, 2015

Seconding Nimona; she might get on with Roller Girl, Space Dumplins or Anya's Ghost.
posted by terretu at 2:32 PM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way (Yes, the lead singer from My Chemical Romance). I loooved it. It's really arch and funny and interesting.
posted by Aquifer at 2:35 PM on November 13, 2015

Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks
Emiko Superstar
American Born Chinese
Books of Magic
Cleopatra in Space
Over the Wall
Polly and the Pirates
posted by bile and syntax at 2:38 PM on November 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Old(er) but good: The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec
posted by pullayup at 2:49 PM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've been really enjoying the recent Jem & the Holograms series. Cute, funny, mostly upbeat, amazing female characters, and an intensely adorable girl/girl romance.
posted by Gordafarin at 2:56 PM on November 13, 2015

If she liked Sandman, then she needs to check out his sister Death. She's awesome.
posted by amro at 2:56 PM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I also loved I Kill Giants but it might not have been colorful/fantastic/engaging enough to grab me as a young teen.
posted by pullayup at 2:58 PM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oooooh, she must read A Redtail's Dream. It's online-only (I have a hardback of it and it cost me a million gazillion dollars) but it is so amazing.
posted by Frowner at 3:04 PM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Catwoman When in Rome - this book is intensely beautiful to me, and I love the story.

Bombshells? it's the DC Ladies in a new set of stories.

Birds of Prey
posted by Medieval Maven at 3:05 PM on November 13, 2015

Digger by Ursula Vernon was amazingly great storytelling with beautiful art, though it's B&W...dunno if that's a factor for her. It's funny and sweet and can be silly, but still pretty serious in terms of things like what love and friendship mean, features one of the strongest female protagonists ever (A WOMBAT!) and is written by a pretty explicitly feminist female artist.
posted by zinful at 3:09 PM on November 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

The Order of the Stick. She could also read it online.
posted by tomboko at 3:12 PM on November 13, 2015

She might like Alan Moore's Top Ten -- stories from the police force in a city where everyone has superpowers. Funny, silly but not too silly, lots of awesome women, talking dog.
posted by babelfish at 3:18 PM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you or your daughter are Studio Ghibli fans (e.g. Princes Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, etc.), I also super recommend Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, though it may be skirting the edge of "super message-y," and while the artwork is beautiful it's black-and-white and some of the US editions are less than stellar reproductions.

That said, it's also byzantine, engaging and arguably feminist. The film's pretty good, too--and if your daughter happens to already be a fan of it, the comic continues/expands its plot by about four times.
posted by pullayup at 3:19 PM on November 13, 2015

Emily Carroll only has one book out (Through the Woods) but it's awesome. It's horror but more in a ghost-story way than slasher way (some gore but no sexual violence). It's also so amazing.

If you're fine with her reading The Sandman, maybe Saga? I think I would've enjoyed at least elements of it at her age (I was definitely reading The Sandman and Elfquest around then).

If she likes Squirrel Girl, she may want to check out the first few volumes of the Adventure Time comic that Ryan North was writing (she doesn't need to be a particular fan of the Adventure Time TV show).

The Wicked + The Divine may be a bit "old" for her or may hit that Sandman/Elfquest-y sweet spot.

The collection isn't in color, but newer stuff online is, but I really recommend Strong Female Protagonist (takes you to the beginning of the webcomic).

Starstruck is a weird space opera but really amazing (some adult stuff in there). It's gorgeous.

Has she read any of the Moomins stuff? (I tend to like the novels more but the comics are fun too.) It's subtly feminist in that the female characters just get to be themselves.

Zodiac Starforce hasn't been collected yet (only on issue #3) and may skew a bit young for what she's into, but I know a lot of people who like it.

SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki is basically the best thing. It kind of hits a spot between "ongoing story" and "comic strip" (art is a bit rough in places, but Jillian Tamaki is amazing).

Street Angel may be worth a look.

Much of the other "feminist" stuff I know of is more autobiography/history (she may still like the stuff Jillian Tamaki has done with her cousin, Mariko, though) but I'd be happy to provide recommendations there, too, if you'd like.
posted by darksong at 3:22 PM on November 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Nimona & LumberJanes definitely.

- Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté is a little history-ish but hits all your other points and is a good story
- Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story might be a little grown-up for her (and is history but tells a good story) but maybe in a few years depending in her maturity level
- This One Summer is basically perfect (adultish themes, read it yourself first)
- Relish: My Life in the Kitchen
posted by jessamyn at 3:23 PM on November 13, 2015

She might really dig Delilah Dirk. You can read quite a bit of it online, although now that they have a real publisher they're holding back some for the hardcopies. One of my favourites of the last few years.
posted by rodlymight at 3:31 PM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's subtly feminist in that the female characters just get to be themselves.

I think Too-ticky is absolutely a feminist hero, but maybe moreso in the books than the comics (which I'm not as familiar with).
posted by pullayup at 3:31 PM on November 13, 2015

My niece is a bit older but she and my eight year old have mostly enjoyed the same comics (and they like some of the ones on your daughter's list). Based on what they've liked best, I strongly second Lumberjanes, Nimona, Roller Girl, and the Amulet series, and I would also suggest the Raina Telgemeier books: Smile, Sisters, and Drama.

We are also enjoying the Supergirl comics, She Hulk, and Captain Marvel.
posted by xeney at 3:42 PM on November 13, 2015

Also, if you have not seen this excellent list at Mighty Girl, you should check it out.
posted by xeney at 3:43 PM on November 13, 2015

13 was close to the age that I started reading manga. Plus there's such a huge industry based entirely around manga for teenage girls and none of it is "messagy". Look into stuff like Black Butler, Hitman Reborn, or Yona of the Dawn.
posted by picklenickle at 4:26 PM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The main character is Florence Ambrose, a Bowman's Wolf. The Bowman's Wolves were created in a genetic engineering project (led by Dr. Bowman, hence the name) to test a brain supplement intended to give arbitrary creatures human-level intelligence, and it worked. Florence walks upright most of the time and can speak and use tools. She gets hired by Sam Starfall, a space alien, to be engineer for his space ship.

The story is a lot more complicated than that. The comic strip began in 1997, and over the last 18 years its gotten more and more interesting. It all takes place on a new planet which is being terraformed by about 30 thousand humans and about 450 million robots.

Part of the story is that Sam is the only space alien on that planet and Florence is the only Bowman's Wolf.

G-rated, I should mention.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:28 PM on November 13, 2015

The amulet is pretty good, nice balance of sister and brother heroics, really nice art.

Almost anything by Faith Erin Hicks is worth a read.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:42 PM on November 13, 2015

Bryan Talbot's The Tale of One Bad Rat is a book I wish I'd had at that age. BIG caveat that the book deals with sexual abuse and is therefore not appropriate for every 13-year-old, but for a 13-year-old who has already read Sandman and is okay with the topic, it's a powerful read.
posted by thetortoise at 5:09 PM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, the Finder series is pretty dense and not always age-appropriate, but, oh, to read the Talisman volume (which can be standalone) at exactly the right age for it. That's a book to read for the first time at 13 and return to periodically over the course of your life.
posted by thetortoise at 5:19 PM on November 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Tale of One Bad Rat is indeed amazing but also a comic I will never read again (even flipping through it 15 years later made me shaky and want to cry). It's a powerful and important comic and definitely worthy of being read but ... yeah, really not fun. I don't think it's inappropriate for a 13-year-old necessarily, but just know many people of many ages have been traumatized by it.

Some of Bryan Talbot's other stuff may work for her, though, depending. Alice in Sunderland is cool as is Grandville. His Luther Arkwright stuff is incredible, but it is a lot of comic for anyone (might be worth a look, though).
posted by darksong at 5:19 PM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

There is only one mention of Bone in this thread. Criminal. Bone.
posted by Mizu at 5:42 PM on November 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Castle Waiting.
Seconding Bone.
posted by Lemmy Caution at 6:20 PM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Giant Days!! A close friend drew the first six issues but I would love it even if she hadn't because John Allison is a genius.
posted by town of cats at 6:32 PM on November 13, 2015

My 11 year old nephew also loved Bone and more recently Hark! A Vagrant. It's all over his head but I don't think it matters at that age. Something just has to resonate.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:58 PM on November 13, 2015

Giant Days is really good. As is anything by Faith Erin Hicks (Superhero Girl, Friends With Boys, Nothing Could Possibly Go Wrong, her new one The Nameless City should be great, too)

Lucy Knisley's autobiographical comics are fantastic.


Lucy Bellwood has some good short comics out there.

20th Century Boys is mature, but really good and there are lots of them in the series.
posted by jillithd at 7:11 PM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

My hubs works at our LCS, and recommends the following:
  • Princeless (girl of color main character, challenges "traditional" expectations of being a princess)
  • Princess Ugg (barbarian princess dropped into a "real" princess finishing school)
  • Claremont-era X-Men and New Mutants (dated, but classic teen drama)
  • Spider-Gwen (alternate universe where Gwen Stacy gets the spider powers)
  • Suburban Glamour (female teenage protagonist (UK) discovers she has supernatural powers, same writer as Wicked + Divine)
  • Gunnerkrigg Court (webcomic, science fantasy, sarcastic Harry Potter)
  • Morning Glories (may be a bit mature, private prep school drama + distopian sci fi + time travel + murder)
  • Bad Machinery (also UK, 6 middle schoolers solve weird and supernatural mysteries — super deadpan humor, webcomic, collected into trade paperbacks)

posted by mon-ma-tron at 7:14 PM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Squirrel girl!

Also re: emily Carroll, she was on Baba Yaga's assistant and it's great.


The recent Batgirl run

Gotham Academy (think Hogwarts in Gotham)

Power Up
posted by KernalM at 8:51 PM on November 13, 2015

Girl Genius might be up your daughter's alley. Print volumes are available, but the whole run is online as well.
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:48 AM on November 14, 2015

N'thing Books of Magic from above. Though I'm not sure the series every properly ended, I need to catch up.


Another vote for Girl Genius.
posted by beowulf573 at 7:35 AM on November 14, 2015

I didn't add Fables to my list as, although an excellent comics series, I think it is waayyyyyy too violent for 13 year old.
posted by jillithd at 9:20 AM on November 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sam Kieth's The Maxx, for sure. Also maybe/probably the Dungeon series by Trondheim/Sfar/various artists.
posted by Bigfoot Mandala at 10:33 PM on November 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: These are great! I've ordered a bunch of these from the library and she's already started them.

Just want to add that although I love all these feminist comic, she is also fine with more traditional comics. For example, that Top Ten suggestion sounds like a perfect mix of slightly out of the box and clever with conventional super hero themes too. So if you have more suggestions that are just "good comics that are not overtly sexist" without necessarily being "overtly feminist good comics", that is also welcome.
posted by latkes at 10:10 AM on November 16, 2015

Nthing Lumberjanes. It's the first one I thought of when I saw the question.

Princess Ugg, Courtney Crumrin, and Polly and the Pirates, all by Ted Nafeh are fantastic. I cannot recommend them enough.

The first trade of Books of Magic is great, but then things get fragmented in terms of which series to be reading. There is definite quality ups and downs there and I don't think I stuck with it to the end.


Gunnerkrigg Court

Also, has she read the most recent Sandman? Sandman: Overture just (two weeks ago or less) came out. It's not quite as good as the main comic, but it's still Sandman. Also, Sandman: Endless Nights and The Dream Hunters.

I'm quite fond of Mike Carey's run on Lucifer, although the imagery gets extreme at times (an entire arc is set in hell). Nothing worse than anything in Sandman, just more of it in places. Also, it's a bit less accessible. Nothing hard to read or something, but I found I had to put some effort into reading it. It was worth it though.


I don't know her and I don't know you, but if both she and you are ok with sex (and nudity), profanity and disturbing violence, Rat Queens.
posted by Hactar at 10:48 AM on November 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

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