8 Graphic Novels That Won’t Wreck Your Teen’s Ego

I love Wonder Woman just as much as the next girl – her love and fascination with the human race and their foibles, her lasso of truth, her unwavering moral compass. But as apparent, what sometimes worries me is that she was born with things that some of us are never going to have – a perfect body, gorgeous hair and blue eyes, not to mention her ability to dodge bullets and crush annoying men. Between Wonder Woman and some of the other females in your typical comics graphic novels, and movies, your daughter’s self-esteem might be feeling a little deflated.

Graphic Novels to the Rescue!

Be the issue powers, body image, or the constant struggle of figuring out who we are and what our priorities are, the following graphic novels present some very interesting girls and women in very fresh and relatable ways:

Bandette Volume 1: Presto! By Paul Tobin

Teenaged Bandette is to thieves what Nancy Drew is to detectives, scaling the rooftops of Paris to steal things (back) from the bad guys in order to do good. She’s got a Scooby gang of irregulars who help her with her heists and give her backup when it’s time to solve the mystery of who is trying to kill her. Bonus points to Tobin for giving us footnotes on the (real) pieces of art the teen thief steals and for giving all art junkies a total thrill by showing how he step-by-step puts his comic together.  Published November 2013, ISBN #9781616552794

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant and Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling by Tony Cliff

If Jane Austen had written an action heroine for teens, it might be Delilah Dirk. She’s an outspoken adventurer with a flying boat, the occasional Houdini escape up her sleeve, and no need for convention, whether she’s racing around Turkey keeping her new sidekick out of trouble in volume one, or returning to her family in England to settle an old score in the even stronger sequel. You don’t need to know anything about the early 19th century to enjoy these books, but the historical research is clearly as good as the art. Best of all, the sidekick and Delilah don’t seem to have any romantic plans, so you really can just enjoy the adventure. Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant,  Published August 2013, ISBN#9781596438134, Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling published March 2016, ISBN# 9781626721556

Rose by Jeff Smith

This prequel to Smith’s popular Bone series can be read as a stand alone. Rose has a complex enough relationship with her sister and her purpose in life, but then she is tasked with protecting her village from an evil menace.  Girls will love Rose’s complexity, and boys will love the very real danger. The artwork is beautiful, and it addresses sibling relationships and jealousy in a way that any teenager will completely relate to. Throw in a slightly Hitchcock-style, not perfectly happy but satisfying ending, and you’ve got a winner. First published March 2002, ISBN #9781888963107

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona wants to be a villain and apprentices herself to the first one she can find. But their villainy is more rebellion against the establishment, and you get some wonderfully flawed bad guys who aren’t so bad, good guys who aren’t so good, and secrets revealed. Best of all, Nimona is a delight, and looks like your kid or someone your kid knows: big thighs, tiny feet, partially shaved head with brightly colored hair – in essence, a normal teen. This makes her relatable and endearing, and her struggle to decide if she’s good or bad and watch her attempt to match her actions to her intent make her the most realistic 21st century teen you’ve ever seen wield a broadsword. Published May 2015, ISBN# 9780062278234

Lumberjanes ,Volume 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters & Brooke A. Allen

If the kids in Scooby Doo had actually been a little younger, all female, and stuck at a girls camp straight out of Gravity Falls, you’d have the Lumberjanes. These kids stumble on to monsters, mystery, and mayhem, but they use their wits and the go get ‘em attitude they’ve gotten from their girl-scouts on steroids head counselor. Also, I know all these girls – I went to school with them and my kids do too-  be they spunky, smart and they know it, androgynous, or they just want to wear their hat all the time – these are real kids, not super vixens, and that makes this a fabulous place to start graphic novels, whether you’re 10 or 45. Stick with the series and it just gets better.  Published April 2015, ISBN# 9781608866878

Ms. Marvel, Volume 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

Groundbreaking for a number of reasons, this graphic novel features a rare breed – a superhero with a religion, and one she thinks about, no less. Being a Muslim teenager is hard enough as it is – where do you fit in, how do you feel about your religion, how do you feel about how other people feel about your religion – but add being a superhero, and you create a story that will broaden people’s minds- not just about the Muslim religion, but about how being a teen really feels.  Published October 2014, ISBN# 9780785190219

Faith, Volume 1: Hollywood & Vine by Jody Houser

A superhero who recently left her ‘team’ to work independently and figure out who she is, Faith is perhaps both the most traditional superhero (she wants to be a journalist as her ‘secret identity’) and the most cutting edge (journalism is dead, so she works at the fictional equivalent of Buzzfeed).  She fan girls about her favorite show, and skypes both the guy she wants to date and her hacker sidekick. But best of all for young readers, Faith is a big girl – and while this is unusual for a superhero, it’s refreshing because while she worries about saving Los Angeles on her own, getting yelled at by her boss, being too ‘mean’ in her online reviews of shows, and how she left things with her old boyfriend, she never once worries about losing weight or how she looks.  Published July 2016, ISBN # 9781682151211

 

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