Drawn to Comics: First Black Female-Owned Comic Shop and “Mooncakes” Are Great for WOC in Comics

Everyone knows that I love comics about witches, but what you probably also know, is that I love comics about witches of color even more. Because of this, I talk about Ariel Ries’ superbly brilliant webcomic Witchy almost every single day of my life. But Witchy isn’t the only webcomic I read and love that features queer witches of color. One of my favorite recent webcomics is Mooncakes, a comic about a witch and a werewolf who are best friends, written by Suzanne Walker and illustrated by Wendy Xu.

Art by Wendy Xu.

Art by Wendy Xu.

As soon as I first found out about Mooncakes I was in love. The premise is lovely — two Asian-American young adults who’ve been friends for a long time trying to navigate life as not only a witch and a werewolf, but as queer people of color as well — and writing is super charming. The basic plot right now is that Tam and Nova were friends as kids, and then now they’re teaming up again as young adults when they run into each other while facing down an evil horse demon in the woods.

My favorite style of writing is the kind that builds its story around really great characters, and Mooncakes definitely hits that mark right on the head. I feel like I was falling in love with Tam, the genderqueer werewolf, and Nova, the hard of hearing witch, as soon as I met them. Like seriously, I just want to be friends with these two.

Art by Wendy Xu.

Art by Wendy Xu.

Not only are the writing and characters great, but the art is gorgeous. Wendy Xu takes the writing that makes Tam and Nova so lovable and makes them a thousand times better by drawing Tam as a super adorable nerd who thinks they’re cool (my second favorite character type after Slytherin Femmes with a Heart of Gold) and Nova as an equally adorable stylish nerd. She also does a spectacular job of drawing the environments the characters live in, my favorites are the back room of Nova’s family’s bookstore and the forest. You really feel like you’re looking into a whole new world when you look at this comic. You should definitely follow her art tumblr to see more drawings of Nova and Tam, as well as bonkers-level-adorable Star Wars: The Force Awakens fanart and one of the scariest short comics I’ve ever seen, written by Alyssa Wong.

It’s super refreshing to see a story about a genderqueer person of color, a hard of hearing, queer person of color and a couple gay grandmas. Those are all types of people I’d love to see more of in comics, and in all media, and as Walker and Xu are showing, by having under-represented characters like these be the focus of your story, you can explore narrative and artistic avenues that mainstream comics often ignore. And I know that I’ve been focusing a lot on these labels, and while they are important to the characters, you never feel like it’s all the characters are. They’re fun, full characters who are made more fun and more full by the fact that they belong to these groups.

Art by Wendy Xu.

Art by Wendy Xu.

If you’re a new reader who’s wanting to check out Mooncakes, you’re lucky, because the series is on hiatus right now. That means that it’s the perfect time to start from page one, get all caught up and to start building up excitement for new pages! If you fall in love with this comic like I did and want to help make sure that Xu and Walker can keep making Mooncakes, you can support them on Patreon.

In other really awesome news that I saw this week and wanted to share with you, Ariell R. Johnson opened up Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse in Philadelphia and in doing so has reportedly opened the first Black-owned comic shop on the East Coast. If you’re a woman or a person of color, you probably know that it can pretty hard to find a comic shop that acts like you belong there, and while things are definitely getting better for WOC who are comic fans, things still aren’t that great in a lot of places. So Johnson’s shop is an extremely welcome change to an industry that’s largely white and largely male.

Johnson working in her coffeeshop.

Johnson working in her coffeeshop.

Johnson has said that one of her goals is to “showcase diverse comics, creators and characters.” She added that “we think that comics are for everyone and anyone that loves comics — women, people of color and the LGBTQ community.” If you live in or near Philadelphia, you should definitely check out Amalgam Comics & Coffee and perhaps make it your new weekly stop for new issues of comics and coffee.

New Releases (January 6)

Archie #5 (Archie Comics)

Giant Days #10 (Boom!)

Toil and Trouble #5 (Boom!)

Angel and Faith Season 10 #22 (Dark Horse)

Lara Croft and the Frozen Omen #4 (Dark Horse)

DC Comics Bombshells #8 (DC)

Detective Comics #48 (DC)

Bitch Planet #6 (Image)

Paper Girls #4 (Image)

Shutter Vol. 3: Quo Vadis TPB (Image)

Southern Cross Vol. 1 TPB (Image)

Pacific Rim: Tales from the Drift #3 (Legendary)

A-Force #1 (Marvel)

Darth Vader #15 (Marvel)

Spider-Gwen #4 (Marvel)

Star Wars #14 (Marvel)

Ultimates #3 (Marvel)

Welcome to Drawn to Comics! From diary comics to superheroes, from webcomics to graphic novels – this is where we’ll be taking a look at comics by, featuring and for queer ladies. So whether you love to look at detailed personal accounts of other people’s lives, explore new and creative worlds, or you just love to see hot ladies in spandex, we’ve got something for you.

If you have a comic that you’d like to see me review, you can email me at mey [at] autostraddle [dot] com.

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Mey Rude is a fat, trans, Latina lesbian living in LA. She's a writer, journalist, and a trans consultant and sensitivity reader. You can follow her on twitter, or go to her website if you want to hire her.

Mey has written 572 articles for us.


  1. I can’t wait to visit Amalgam- I’ve been planning a trip to Philly, and now I know where to hang!

    I’ve always shied away from reading comics (although I’m a big Marvel fan and have read some of the classics) because I never felt that the stories represented who I am. I’m glad that there’s more movement toward sharing inclusive comics!

  2. I have a lot of feelings about comic shops. On one hand, I would love to support a small, local business and not Amazon or some other big retailer. On the other, even relatively friendly comic shops make me feel dirty. I used to go to all the time when I played Magic, but that was at the height of my “one of the guys” misogynistic phase. I associate comic shops with that toxic attitude, even if the shop itself is friendly. I feel shame clinging to every inch of me when I walk in.

    A shop like Johnson’s would go a long way toward making me feel at home in a comic shop again. Also, her hair is amazing.

    But I suppose it’s all irrelevant right now, since both shops near my new hometown are apparently run by miserable, condescending jerks and I’m not subjecting myself to that.

    • I feel this so hard! My local comic shop makes me feel slimy just stepping inside. It’d be cool to have more options.

  3. I shouldn’t be giving anyone ideas, but.. how nifty would it be, if creators featured here were willing to give a free issue or somesuch, to help lure unsuspecting readers in?

    I only found out about Lumberjanes the other week, through another Drawn to Comics posting here, and by some freak of nature, the Humble Comics Bundle the next day included up to issue 20, which made it an easy decision. ^_^ (*So* pleased I picked that up! Lumberjanes is *fantastic!*)

    DRM-free is always a plus point, too. It’s frustrating to have ComiXology, Comics Plus, iBooks, Dark Horse, and more all completely non-interoperable. As a result, I have the superb Grandville split across all four, as completely legimitately paid for. And, less so, as plain PDFs, in Acrobat. People really oughtn’t be penalised for paying.

  4. I am excited for this new comic book shop. My (West Philly) neighborhood shop just closed at the end of 2015 and I was looking for a new place to go. It’s not that close, so more like monthly visits, but it’s where I’ll be going.

    I do hope that they don’t have a cat. I hate that, like used books stores, there are often cats wandering around comic books shops and I’m so allergic I can’t stay and browse.

  5. Fantastic round-up of some awesome developments in the land of comics :)

    Just a note from a member of the Deaf community to please be careful with the term hearing-impaired. If the character self-identifies as such, and I haven’t yet read the comic so I don’t know if she does, that’s totally her choice- some oral deaf people do. For many others, who are users of their national sign language, culturally Deaf (capital D) people, hearing impaired is extremely offensive. It’s akin to queer people being called heterosexuality-impaired, or POC being called non-white, ie: being called by what one is supposedly deficient in, rather than what one proudly is.

    I may be super jumping the gun on this one and the character is proudly identifying as hearing impaired, but I hope it sheds light for anyone who didn’t know this already. Thanks and I’ll keep reading your brilliant work Mey!

    • I did not know this, but that makes a ton of sense. I’m sorry for using an offensive term. Thank you for letting me know!

      I reached out to one of the people who makes the comic to see what term I should use for their character, and I’ll update this article accordingly.

      • Thanks Mey!
        And like I said, I really love your writing and never-ending activism.

        Autostraddle is one of my go-to places.

        It’s full of warm and it fits and I sits.

        It’s full of amazing writer-humans who respect and lift up and embrace others as who they are, and never stop learning and caring.

        • Thank you so much for the compliments!

          And I changed it to “hard of hearing,” that’s the language that the creators use to describe the character.

          Also, thank you very, very much for letting me know about this, I definitely don’t want to be using offensive terminology like that, and so I’m glad you spoke up.

          • Thank you so much for doing that :) The creators are really awesome for having replied so quickly and positively.

            I just face-palmed when I realised I gendered Nova in my first comment. I was so focused on one identity that I jumped to a gender conclusion without any part of the comic confirming it. I’m really sorry for doing that too!
            Reminder to self to think intersectionally always.

            Imma go to their patreon now…

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