By George Gene Gustines, The New York Times
These recent, new and upcoming books with L.G.B.T.Q. characters offer adventure stories, personal recollections, a riff on a famous novel and more.
Pride is celebrated in June, but comic books and graphic novels featuring characters who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender aren’t confined to one month. Check out these recent, new and upcoming books, which offer adventure stories, personal recollections, a riff on a famous novel and more.
The Dog Knight
Frankie Jude Bryant is a nonbinary middle school student who is dealing with identity, the usual academic challenges and, oh yes, trying to become the Dog Knight, a champion for humans and canines. Despite the presence of magical talking pooches, this journey of heroism and self-discovery feels grounded thanks to captions that get into the head of Frankie, who prefers they/them pronouns. On the first page, they think, “Do you ever feel like you don’t make sense?” Later, Frankie muses about their frenemy Dallas, who misgenders them: “She gets it wrong on purpose just to make a big deal about correcting it.” And when Frankie finds their tribe, “For the first time in a long time, I look in the mirror and I don’t feel a pain in the pit of my stomach.” Written by Jeremy Whitley, drawn by Bre Indigo and colored by Melissa Capriglione. (Feiwel & Friends. Available now.)
Marry Me a Little: A Graphic Memoir
The cartoonist Rob Kirby chronicles his 2013 march down the aisle in Minnesota with his longtime partner, John Capecci. The story highlights where gay marriage stood at the time (each state was making its own rules before same-sex unions became the law of the land in 2015) and looks back at Jack Baker and Michael McConnell, who somehow were able to obtain a marriage license in Minneapolis in 1971. The personal recollections are powerful and honest: Rob remembers when he first casually used the word “husband,” which felt like “a small but genuine political act.” He also acknowledges the white, middle-class privilege that allowed him ambivalence about getting married. His ultimate conclusion: “Marriage does not define a relationship. Unless you want it to.” (Graphic Mundi. Available now.)
The messages of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” — about social status, love and chasing dreams — are revisited in the present with a racially and sexually diverse set of characters in their 20s. Gatsby is a Black tech millionaire looking for a love who got away, and Lu Zhao, the stand-in for Nick Carraway, is visiting from Singapore and summering on Long Island (where a $5,000-plus afternoon shopping spree highlights the casual wealth). The main characters are refreshingly blasé about their sexuality: Lu’s girlfriend, Alexis, asks, “How do you identify?” But Lu’s answer does not really matter as Alexis says, “I love being on this journey with you. I’m here for you no matter what.” Written by Jeremy Holt, drawn by Felipe Cunha and colored by Dearbhla Kelly. (AWA. Available now.)
The cartoonist Bree Wolf spins a tale about auto racing, teen romance, monsters and ghosts. Flesh-and-blood Ken forms an unlikely alliance with Dante, who died in a previous race and haunts his car as a ghost. A successful partnership will allow Ken to compete in the annual Grand Prix and help Dante move on to the afterlife. The more than 300-page story packs in a lot of character growth, action, flashbacks and drama. The relationship between Ken and Karen, his mother, is particularly nuanced. Karen is supportive of her son, who is gay, but she struggles with how to correct her overbearing friend James when he makes thoughtless jokes about Ken. (Iron Circus Comics. Aug. 30.)
Death Drop: Drag Assassin
The Gayborhood, as it is called in this five-part series, has seen better days. Thugs feel empowered to assault young gay men, and a drag queen named Lunaira has gone missing from the club Posterior Delusions. Residents have little faith in the local police. Enter Death Drop, a former hit man and current drag queen, who is pushed by Mother Henny, the hostess of the club, to find Lunaira. “She’s a queen of color who has been missing for more than two days,” Mother Henny says. “You do the math.” It helps that Death Drop and Mother Henny used to date. Let the investigation begin. Written by David Hazan and drawn and colored by Alex Moore. (Scout Comics. June 14.)
Kim-Joy, a British baker and cookbook writer, teams up with the artist Alti Firmansyah for this story about Yan, who is struggling with low self-esteem and social anxiety. When Yan finds a local baking club, she is plagued by doubts about whether she will fit in or be liked, but she soon learns that everyone struggles in different ways. Yan eventually becomes confident enough to rally the club members to seek out and support one of their fellow bakers who needs it. Yan would qualify as an ally, but there are characters with significant roles in the story who are gay and lesbian. And there are recipes, including one that gives this story its title. (Comixology Originals. Available now.)
Bold Original Stories Spanning Genres