We’re living in a time when women, especially women of color and queer women, are enjoying more and more opportunities to star in and even make their own comics. There are all sorts of amazing comics being put out by mainstream and indie publishers, and with the rise of webcomics, its easier and easier to find stories that resonate with your life. Yes, there are still plenty of problems. Women, again, especially women of color and queer women, are still vastly underrepresented both when it comes to creators and characters. Women are still too often killed off or used as sex objects in comics. Women are too often called Fake Geek Girls in real life. So when we find comics that not only feature queer women – either as characters or creators – or feminist messages, we need to highlight and celebrate them. That’s what I’ve been attempting to do with Drawn to Comics over this past year, and now that’s what we hope to do with the first annual Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Awards.
Both the winners and the comics on the shortlist definitely deserve your attention. If we want to make sure that not only do we have more representation for women in comics, but that representation is both positive and diverse, we need to make sure that we support the creators who make those comics. So whether you’re going to by single issues at your local comic shop, request these books at your library, buy graphic novels or trade paper backs from amazon, check out these terrific webcomics or support individual creators through their online stores, please do what you can to help make sure we have an even bigger pool of comics to choose from next year.
The goal of the Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Awards is to recognize and celebrate positive representation for queer women and feminist issues in comics, webcomics and graphic novels. The shortlists and winners were selected by a panel of comic experts, fans and professionals here at Autostraddle.
For each category, I’ll list the comics or creators that made the shortlist and then the winner in each category after the image.
Favorite Big Two Book (DC or Marvel)
Batgirl, written by Gail Simone, art by Vicente Cifuentes, Ardian Syaf, Fernando Pasarin and Ed Benes
Young Avengers, written by Kieron Gillen, art by Jamie McKelvie
Captain Marvel, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, art by David Lopez
Batwoman, written by J.H. Williams, III, W. Haden Blackman and Marc Andreyko, art by Trevor McCarthy and Jeremy Haun
Winner: Ms. Marvel, written by G. Willow Wilson, art by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt
The concept alone of this comic is amazing — a brown, Muslim teenage girl who’s a legacy superhero and has her own book. But it’s the execution that really makes this book deserving of the award. Yes, Ms. Marvel is a legacy hero, but she is 100% her own person. This book is a fresh, funny, touching and brilliant take on the teenage superhero book. Back in May we posted about Ms. Marvel in Drawn to Comics, and last November I talked about her in an article about women of color in comics.
Favorite Indie Book
Saga, written by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Fiona Staples
Red Sonja, written by Gail Simone, art by Walter Geovani
Rat Queens, written by Kurtis J. Wiebe, art by Roc Upchurch
The Wicked + The Divine, written by Kieron Gillen, art by Jamie McKelvie
Winner: Lumberjanes, written by Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson, art by Brooke Allen, co-created by Shannon Watters
I mean come on, a book about five girls, each with their own distinct personalities, each with their own strengths and weaknesses? And then add onto that summer camp, supernatural goings-on and queer storylines? This is pretty much a perfect comic book. As someone who loves comics, I find that Lumberjanes has just about everything that I’m looking for, but also, people who have never touched a comic in their life can jump right in and fall in love with this book.
Favorite Webcomic (Continuing Story)
Clique Refresh, by Amy T. Falcone
As the Crow Flies, by Melanie Gilman
Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson
O Human Star, by Blue Delliquanti
Winner: Monster Pop! by Maya Kern
So often people use monsters or mutants or aliens as some kind of metaphor for queer people or people of color. At first glance, Monster Pop! could seem like it falls into that, but the difference is, this comic is actually full of literal queer and trans characters and characters of color. Plus, it’s sweet, cute and full of great relationship and growing-up drama and the art is just plain beautiful. It’s got a great Shoujo style story and really fun characters who are extremely easy to love.
Favorite Webcomic (Single Stories/Comics)
Chaos Life, by A. Stiffler and K. Copeland
Supercakes, by Kat Leyh
Trans Girl Next Door, by Kylie Summer
Terrible Terrible Terrible, by Lauren Monger
Winner: Super Mutant Magic Academy, by Jillian Tamaki
This comic is so wonderfully weird. Tamaki masterfully deals with issues ranging from unrequited love to existential crises that arise from being immortal. Being a teenager is hard, but as this comic shows, it’s even harder when you and your friends have a bunch of strange, and oftentimes very unhelpful superpowers. If you ever feel like spending a day laughing and crying at the absurdity of life, I can’t think of a better way than to read this comic.
Favorite Graphic Novel/Book
This One Summer, written by Mariko Tamaki, art by Jillian Tamaki
Through the Woods, written and illustrated by Emily Carroll
If This Be Sin, written and illustrated by Hazel Newlevant
Winner: Princess Princess, written and illustrated by Katie O’Neill
I’m so glad that there is a story like this that exists. The princesses don’t fit into the stereotype of the damsel in distress who wants desperately to be rescued by a prince. It has characters of different races and body types. It has two princesses who are their own heroes and don’t need to change who they are to save themselves and the day. It has a really cute queer couple. And all of this is in an all-ages comic. The book is currently sold out, but O’Neill has said that she’s working on that and you can check out her tumblr to find out when more copies will be available.
Mariko Tamaki, This One Summer
Gail Simone, Batgirl, Red Sonja, The Movement
Kelly Sue Deconnick, Captain Marvel, Pretty Deadly
G. Willow Wilson, Ms. Marvel
Winner: Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson, Lumberjanes
Not only are the characters absolutely top notch and extremely well-written, but the dialogue is some of the funniest in any comic out there today. Each character has their own very distinct voice, and each is funny in their own way. The writing makes you instantly fall in love with these characters and not be able to wait until the next issue comes out.
Brooke Allen, Lumberjanes
Jillian Tamaki, This One Summer
Molly Ostertag, Strong Female Protagonist
Emma Rios, Pretty Deadly
Winner: Fiona Staples, Saga
Saga is able to pull off being a universe-spanning epic space fantasy largely due to Staples’ painfully gorgeous art. Each new character looks like their own individual person, each new planet is its own unique world, each new creature or species is beautiful or terrifying or both in it’s own special way. While I do adore the writing in this book, I would honestly just pay for the art alone.
Melanie Gilman, As the Crow Flies
Noelle Stevenson, Nimona
Lauren Monger, Terrible Terrible Terrible
Kat Leyh, Supercakes
Winner: Emily Carroll- Online Comics and Through the Woods
Simply put, Emily Carroll’s work takes our breath away. Not only is she perhaps the best modern teller of folktales, dark fairy tales and campfire stories, but she’s also able to bring them alive in miraculous ways through her art. Her work has been covered in Drawn to Comics, once when I talked about her online work, and again when I talked about her book, Through the Woods.
Favorite Queer Comics Couple
A. Stiffler & K. Copeland from Chaos Life
Alysia Yeoh and Jo from Batgirl
Tank and Shift from Supercakes
Betty and Faeyri from Rat Queens
Winner: Mal and Molly from Lumberjanes
The way these two care about each other is just plain adorable. It’s incredibly rare that you see a queer romance between women in any comic, so the fact that Lumberjanes brings us this one in an all-ages title is even more remarkable. I can’t even imagine how much better my life would have been if I were a 12 year-old reading this comic, seeing characters like me represented like this. Plus, we get to see them as friends, which is, in many ways, just as important.
Favorite Queer Character
The girls from Lumberjanes
Betty from Rat Queens
Charlie from As the Crow Flies
Winner: Miss America Chavez from Young Avengers
Latin@s officially make up 17% of the US population (and that number is quickly rising) and yet the number popular of [email protected] superheroes in mainstream comics can be counted on one hand. Remember, representation matters. Plus, when it comes to being cool, no one in all of comics has got her beat. She’s not only a great example of a queer character, but she’s an awesome and unique superhero. It’s that three dimensional (or even four dimensional) portrayal that makes her the choice here.
Queer Women Character Hall of Fame Award
Renee Montoya has been representing queer women of color in mainstream comics since all the way back in 2003. She was originally created by Sean Catherine Derek, Laren Bright and Mitch Brian for Batman: The Animated Series in 1992, but actually made her first appearance in comics before her episodes aired. The fact that one of the two or three highest profile lesbians in all of superhero comics is also a woman of color is amazing. She was one of the stars of Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka’s critically acclaimed and award-winning Gotham Central series (where she was outed as a lesbian in the Half a Life story), worked with and then as The Question in the 52 storyline and is often seen in other stories that take place in Gotham City throughout the pre-New 52 Reboot DC Universe. Now, after a few years of being absent from the comics (not counting a picture of her in the background of one panel or the out of continuity video game tie-in Injustice: Gods Among Us series), she’s getting another chance to shine in the Fox TV show Gotham. Renee Montoya paved the way for both lesbian representation in mainstream comics and for queer poc representation. I can’t think of a better selection for the first ever Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Character Hall of Fame Award.
Favorite Overall Comic
Supercakes, written and illustrated by Kat Leyh
Ms. Marvel, written by G. Willow Wilson, art by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt
As the Crow Flies, written and illustrated by Melanie Gilman
Princess Princess, written and illustrated by Katie O’Neill
Winner: Lumberjanes, written by Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson, art by Brooke Allen
Could it be anything else? We’ve already praised the writing, the characters and the book itself, and it’s already a regular feature in Drawn to Comics, the only thing left to do is get every single person you know to read this comic so that they too can fall in love.
New Releases (Sept. 24)
Bee and Puppycat #4 (Boom!)
Bravest Warriors #24 (Boom!)
Lumberjanes #6 (Boom!)
Aliens Fire and Stone #1 (Dark Horse)
Tomb Raider #8 (Dark Horse)
Bob’s Burgers #2 (Dynamite)
Dejah of Mars #4 (Dynamite)
Red Sonja #12 (Dynamite)
Saga #23 (Image)
Storm #3 (Marvel)
Princess Ugg #4 (Oni Press)