I’ve said it time and time again, but representation matters, both in the comics themselves and in the people who make them. So when comics feature diverse, complicated and fascinating female characters who we want to root for and love, and who we can see ourselves in, it helps us to reach for our dreams and see ourselves as the heroes of our own stories. Perhaps more importantly, representation behind the scenes matters, so when we celebrate the accomplishments of the women and non-binary folks who are making great comics, we’re saying thank you, not only for sharing your art and your stories with us, but also for giving us, to borrow a phrase from Laverne Cox, possibility models and for showing us that comics aren’t just a boys’ club, or a straight person’s club, or a white person’s club, or a cis person’s club. That’s what these awards are — a deep and profound thank you to all of the people who make us glad that we didn’t listen when we were told that girls don’t read comics.
Thank you to the thousands of comic fans who voted for the comics and creators they feel best represent queer women and feminist themes. We’re going to keep on making sure the ASCAs get bigger and better every year, and we need your help to do that.
I also want to once again congratulate all of the nominees this year. Whittling down the list of comics and creators to a small enough number to be able to make this poll was hard enough, and for everyone who voted, picking winners from among those very worthy nominees was an even harder task. All of the comics and creators nominated deserve recognition and your support and money.
If you need a reminder, the goal of the Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Awards is to recognize and celebrate webcomics, graphic zines, comic books, graphic novels and other forms of sequential art, and the women who make them, that come out each year that feature both excellence in the art form and excellence in representation for girls and women (especially queer girls and women) and feminist themes. That being said, here are your winners!
Favorite All-Ages Comic
Lumberjanes by Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen and Carolyn Nowak
For voters, this was a no-brainer, and it makes sense. From its very first issue, Lumberjanes has been consistently delivering a diverse, complex and fun team of girls going off on adventures and being not only great friends, but also their own heroes. This book tells all girls that they deserve to have friends, do anything they put their minds to and be whomever they want to be. Plus, it’s simply one of the most consistently fun, funny and exciting comics out there.
Favorite Big Two Book
Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa and Adrian Alphona
Even with the recent rise in mainstream titles featuring and aimed at women, Ms. Marvel stood out. This book has by far one of the best takes on a teen superhero I’ve ever seen, and it continues to tell a superhero story that you won’t find anywhere else in mainstream comics. It allows teen girls, Muslims, and girls of color (and people who are two or all three of those things) a chance to finally see someone like them as a hero. This is the second year in a row that Kamala Khan has taken home this award.
Favorite Indie Book
Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro and Robert Wilson IV
This new series came out like a cannonball, completely changing the way women are portrayed in comics. Each issue not only features amazing art, writing and characters, but a powerful message about the way women, and particularly women who belong to marginalized groups are treated by the patriarchy, and more importantly, how they fight back against the patriarchy.
Favorite Single Issue
Lumberjanes #17 by Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson and Brooke A. Allen
Not only was this issue an exciting, nail-biting and emotional page-turner of a finale to the latest Lumberjanes storyline, but it also gave us one of the most touching, and most important, moments in comics in recent years. Jo, one of the Lumberjanes talks to Scouting Lad Barney about being a trans girl and how she couldn’t let others tell her who she is; she was always meant to be a Lumberjane.
Favorite Webcomic – Serial
Strong Female Protagonist by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag
In an incredibly strong category (aren’t they all, though?), Strong Female Protagonist was able fly to the top. Although it’s been around since 2012, this comic has never been better than it was this year. The art (seriously, I love this art), the writing, the characterization and the themes all reached new highs as the comic continued to explore the implications of superpowers on morality, relationships and young adulthood, all while having one of the best and most complicated super-powered women in all of comics.
Favorite Webcomic – Episodic
Rock and Riot by Chelsey Furedi
Rock and Riot only just debuted this spring, but it’s already making a name for itself and garnering a large and passionate fan base. It’s delightfully cute and filled to the brim with diverse queer characters. Whether your favorite characters are Connie and Carla, Gene and Clyde or Rolly and Ace, we can all agree that this comic has some of the best teen romances on the internet.
Favorite Graphic Novel/Book
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Stevenson’s book, which was recently longlisted for a National Book Award and is based on her award-winning webcomic of the same name, is a perfect example of how books for young people don’t have to be simple, happy or overly feel-good. The title character of the book is a shape-shifting girl who is literally a murderer and a monster and it’s hard to say that there’s a “happy ending,” but the book definitely challenges you to think about how you view science and magic, good guys and bad guys and girls and monsters.
Kelly Sue DeConnick
The beloved writer recently ended her legendary run on Captain Marvel, a comic that got many women back into comic shops after years of feeling like it wasn’t a safe space for them. Not content with just resting on her laurels, DeConnick started writing the groundbreaking and revolutionary new series Bitch Planet. There’s no one in comics who can make you fall in love with a character the way DeConnick, no one who can inspire you the way DeConnick can and no one who can break your heart the way DeConnick can. No matter what book she’s writing, DeConnick is always writing some of the most interesting, most real and most wonderful female characters in all of comics, and above all, her writing is always encouraging readers to reach new heights and be the stars we were always meant to be.
Saga continues to be one of the best comics in the world, and a big part of that is because it’s without a doubt one of the most beautiful comics of all time. Each new character, spaceship, weapon and world is a wonder to behold and familiar faces never get boring to look at. Even as the number of extremely talented and really amazing women artists in comics is growing, it’s no surprise at all that Staples takes home this award for the second year in a row.
This was the closest category overall, with less than 150 votes separating first place from fifth, but in the end, the award goes to Halla, for her gorgeous work on the popular and critically acclaimed webcomic Octopus Pie by Meredith Gran. Halla’s colors turn Gran’s already terrific comic into a warm bath of colors that lets you swim through from panel to panel. Halla also has her own, equally beautifully colored webcomic called Portside Stories.
Stevenson picks up a second award for her work on Nimona, this time for writing and illustrating it. Nimona perfectly shows off Stevenson’s wonderful combination of skills at writing and drawing scenes that are supposed to make you laugh, scenes that are supposed to make you feel and scenes that are supposed to make you afraid. She’s able to tell a joke about sharks just as effectively as she’s able to tell a story about a child being tortured. She’s able to evoke the feelings of a Romantic painting one minute and a classic cartoon the next. Above all, that’s what Stevenson does best, both in her art and in her writing — create balance where you wouldn’t expect it to be and use that balance to take the reader on journey through a brand new world.
Favorite Queer Comic Character
This trans witch of color from Ariel Ries‘ spectacular webcomic Witchy is, in Ries’ own twitter words, “the perf example of my character writing style bc im like ‘hey check out this mean girl… syke she has feelings and you love her’.” She starts off seeming like she’s going to be a fun, but fairly one-dimensional bully to go up against our immensely likable protagonist, Nyneve, but as soon as she starts showing up in more panels, we see that there’s so much more to her. You see that while she’s still, in many ways, a classic Mean Girl, she’s also a good friend to those she wants to be friends with, a strong daughter who won’t let her parents tell her to be someone who she isn’t and a strong ally to someone who needs her help. By the time you’ve finished reading the comic as it exists today, it’s impossible to not be completely head-over-heels in love with her.
Favorite Queer Comic Couple
Mal and Molly
Really, what’s better than a cute couple of queer girls in an all-ages comic? According to voters, who chose this pair from Lumberjanes, nothing. These two are one of the most adorable couples in comics and they finally got to go on a date, just the two of them, even if it did end up with them being chased by dinosaurs. Not only are they a great couple inside the comic, but they’re also opening the eyes of readers to a whole new world of possibilities. Thanks to Mal and Molly, queer girls in comic shops and bookstores and libraries are going to pick up issues of Lumberjanes and see themselves represented in a positive way, at a much earlier age than most of us could in the past. If that doesn’t warm your heart, I don’t know what will.
Favorite Overall Comic
Lumberjanes by Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen and Carolyn Nowak
Once again, Lumberjanes takes home the award! Lumberjanes represents much of the best of comics. It’s a perfect fit for readers of all ages, but it never panders or patronizes; it manages to teach good lessons about friendship, adventure and girl power without compromising it’s story or characters; it has a cast full of girls of color, girls who like girls and even a trans girl of color; and it never fails to make you sit on the edge of your seat, laugh out loud and feel all warm and fuzzy inside. This is the kind of comic a lot of us hoped for when we were young, and now it’s a real thing that we, and those younger then us, get to read and treasure. With Lumberjanes helping to lead the way into the future of a more inclusive and proudly diverse future of comics, the future is looking well written, wonderfully drawn, beautifully colored, sharply lettered and skillfully edited indeed.
I hope that some of your favorites won! If not, make sure you look forward to next year’s awards, when the ASCAs will be even better!
In other big comic news, at this year’s Small Press Expo, women completely swept the Ignatz Awards, which celebrates small press and creator-owned comics and cartoons. How cool is that? Congratulations to all of the winners!
New Releases (September 23)
Princeless: Be Yourself #4 (Action Lab)
Adventure Time #44 (Boom!)
Over the Garden Wall #2 (Boom!)
Power Up! #3 (Boom!)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #19 (Dark Horse)
Batgirl #44 (DC)
We are Robin #4 (DC)
Red Sonja #18 (Dynamite)
Black Widow Vol. 3 Last Days TPB (Marvel)
Runaways #4 (Marvel)
True Believers Princess Leia #1 (Marvel)
True Believers Silk #1 (Marvel)
Years of Future Past #5 (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.