Loud & Proud: 20 LGBTQ+-Inclusive Comics for Pride Month

From Gay Vigilantes to Queer Magical Girls

Comics Lists Pride Month
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Loud & Proud: 20 LGBTQ+-Inclusive Comics for Pride Month

We’ve come a long way since Northstar sprawled across an issue of Alpha Flight and loudly proclaimed his sexuality—let alone since DC Comics introduced a flamboyant queer pirate who preferred to be called “Auntie.” Mainstream comics, indie titles and self-published webcomics have paved the way for more inclusive and varied representations of the LGBTQ+ experience, from flirtatious hockey games to queer magical girls to leather-clad vigilantes who sleep with solar heroes of the same gender. In honor of Pride month, Paste updated our list of favorite queer-inclusive comics, available in print and on the web, for all of your LGBTQ+ reading needs. Be sure to let us know loud and proud on Twitter if we left off any of your faves.

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AgentsOfTheRealm.jpg Agents of the Realm
Writer/Artist: Mildred Louis
Freshman year in college is one of the toughest parts of young adult life. You have to worry about hard-nosed professors, juggling work and a social life and somehow find time to save the world—if you’re an Agent, that is. Agents of the Realm is a webcomic about Norah Tanner, one of five college students chosen to protect the world and its hidden sister dimension from a mysterious evil. The webcomic is the result of creator Mildred Louis getting tired of waiting for Sailor Moon Crystal, the 2014 Sailor Moon reboot, and not seeing herself reflected in stories about magical girls. She gives us a fun monster-of-the-week story with a nuanced look at friendships through a mostly queer cast. Conventions in magical girl stories include the heroes finding their inner strength while balancing life with incredible responsibility thrust upon them. Louis handles these themes with a refreshing grace and artwork that glows. With seven chapters online, now is the perfect time to treat your eyes to a story that’s as fun as it is beautiful. Chris Kindred


asthecrowflies.jpg As the Crow Flies
Writer/Artist: Melanie Gillman
Publisher: Iron Circus
Melanie Gillman’s webcomic As the Crow Flies should be available in print form somewhat soon, due to a successful Kickstarter campaign by indie publisher Iron Circus. The story of a queer black girl at an all-white Christian summer camp could have been obvious or heavy-handed, but Gillman is interested in subtlety. From the gorgeous colored-pencil drawings (meaning a relatively slow posting schedule of a page a week) to the focus on complex emotions and situations, the comic provides a path for empathy and understanding. The characters are young adolescents, which means their sense of not belonging is amplified and relatable. The setting—a place where you can reinvent your identity, away from your everyday environment and social milieu—is equally smart. And the pacing, which allows time between pages for the reader to think and to examine the beauty of the pencils, contributes to its overall success. Hillary Brown


Beyond2.jpg Beyond & Beyond II Anthologies
Editors: Sfe R. Monster & Taneka Stotts
Publisher: Beyond Press
With more than 500 pages of comics between two anthologies, Beyond & Beyond II are the biggest and most jam-packed anthologies on this list. Spotlighting sci-fi and post-apocalyptic/urban fantasy stories respectively, the Beyond series feature more than two dozen queer artists and stories following queer characters through time and space in stories that, despite their differences, all carry within them a blazing spark of hope. These anthologies are home to stories that explore the full range of their respective genres, from space-faring adventurers to found families in the wake of disasters to charming fantasy tales of faeries questing for the perfect recipe for their love. There’s more than enough content here to keep you going all through Pride Month, and each story is engrossing and heartfelt enough to keep you coming back for years to come. [Full disclosure: Paste editor Steve Foxe wrote a story in Beyond II] C.K. Stewart


BingoLoveRR.jpg Bingo Love
Writer: Tee Franklin
Artist: Jenn St-Onge
Publishler: Image Comics 
Forget Doomsday Clock and whatever Infinity crossover Marvel is kicking off—writer Tee Franklin and artist Jenn St-Onge’s Bingo Love is a true comics event. First published as part of a massively successful Kickstarter and released earlier this year—on Valentine’s Day, no less—to wider audiences by publisher Image Comics, Bingo Love is the story of Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray, queer women of color who meet in 1963 but are kept apart by family and society until decades later. Franklin and St-Onge cover a staggering amount of ground, from Hazel and Mari’s teen years in intolerant families, to their eventual marriages to men, to a near future where the two women, now grandparents, discover that there’s no time limit on finding your own happiness in life. Beyond the story on the page, Franklin has worked tirelessly to see Bingo Love through to publication, carving a niche for herself as a queer disabled Black woman in an industry overwhelmingly dominated by straight white able-bodied men. There are few better choices for feel-good queer narratives this month. Steve Foxe


checkplease.png Check, Please!
Writer/Artist: Ngozi Ukazu
Publisher: First Second
As large publishers, and some of their fans, complain about how difficult diversity is to market, and how little money it makes, webcomic creators are proving them wrong and outpacing them in leaps and bounds. Ngozi Ukazu’s Check, Please! is wildy popular on Tumblr, attracting a loyal legion of fans who pledged almost $400,000 on her last Kickstarter, and who create enough fanart and fanfiction to rival popular television shows. Check, Please! is perhaps best described in simplest terms: it’s gay hockey boys in love. Main character Eric “Bitty” Bittle, a figure skater, baker and vlogger, finds himself a fish out of water when he goes to college and begins to play hockey. The romance is slow to develop, the characters are diverse in personality, background and motivation, and Ukazu’s art is cartoony and sweet without being overblown or cloying. What really sets Check, Please! apart is the love in it. The way the characters love each other, both romantically and platonically, the way Ukazu clearly loves hockey and the comic itself. The enthusiasm and kindness, even as characters face tough decisions, make Check, Please! a welcome respite from grim, gritty stories that introduce LGBTQ+ characters only to inflict violence on them, and readers will soon be able to check it out in print, too, courtesy of First Second. Caitlin Rosberg


STL087647.jpeg DeadEndia
Writer/Artist: Hamish Steele
Publisher: NoBrow Press
Haunted houses, time travel, wizard pugs—DeadEndia has everything going for it. This supernatural romp features a diverse cast of characters, including a trans masc lead in sweet, well-intentioned Barney, trying to survive the daily grind of customer service work at a theme park with some very spooky secrets. Written and illustrated by Hamish Steele, DeadEndia is free to read on Tapas and the first physical volume arrives this August from NoBrow. Steele’s playful, cartoonish style and beautiful colors create a vivid, engrossing world that will get you instantly hooked. The character designs are particularly refreshing; Steele delivers a cast with a wide variety of identities and experiences, all thoughtfully explored in ways that feel authentic and accessible. Barney in particular is a delight; it’s great to see a trans masc character not on the hypermasculine end of the gender spectrum and not drawn as perfectly passing at all times. DeadEndia is fun, well-written, and it’s currently free online—there’s no reason not to check it out. C.K. Stewart


kimandkim.jpeg Kim & Kim
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Artist: Eva Cabrera
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Full disclosure: Kim & Kim co-creator Magdalene Visaggio is an occasional Paste contributor. Fuller disclosure: we’d include her queer- and trans-inclusive space romp even if she didn’t have a byline with us. Visaggio is among the comic industry’s most visible transgender talents, and she has prioritized diverse representation of queer and trans life in her own work. Quantum Teens Are Go, her Black Mask series with artist Eryk Donovan, has some grounding in reality; Kim & Kim is all interstellar action and star-crossed exes. The Kims’ gender identities and sexualities factor into their characterization without defining them, which is a modest yet rarely achieved goal when it comes to representation. Eva Cabrera’s slick cartooning nails the punk-rock space setting and ably brings both Kims to life. Steve Foxe


lumberjanes.jpg backstagers.jpg Lumberjanes & Backstagers
Writers: Shannon Watters and Kat Leyh, James Tynion IV, Others
Artists: Brooklyn Allen, Rian Sygh, Others
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
One of the biggest struggles in getting more LGBTQ+-friendly content into the world, across all mediums, is that many stories that focus on queer characters are automatically deemed inappropriate for children. Thankfully, more and more publishers are rejecting that rule, and working with creators to bring books like Lumberjanes and The Backstagers into the world. Though Lumberjanes has been around longer, and The Backstagers was an eight-issue miniseries, the books provide a good counterpoint to one another. Lumberjanes is like The Baby-Sitters Club meets Gravity Falls, focusing on a group of friends at an all-girls summer camp who get caught up in supernatural adventures. The Backstagers is the all-boys school-based corollary, starring a crew who work on tech theater, making sets and managing props for the school’s productions and stumbling across magic in their labyrinthine storage areas. Both feature a variety of queer and trans characters in books that are firmly and explicitly kid-friendly, rooted in friendship and lessons that land on the right side of after-school specials. The art is just as gentle and animated as the stories themselves, and particularly when taken together create a library of books perfect for kids who feel like they might not fit in. Between the two, readers are almost guaranteed to find someone who reflects them on the page. Caitlin Rosberg


midnighterandapollo.jpeg Midnighter & Midnighter and Apollo
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artists: ACO, Fernando Blanco, Others
Publisher: DC Comics 
Co-creator Warren Ellis did right by gay Batman and Superman analogues Midnighter and Apollo in the pages of Stormwatch and The Authority, but it took writer Steve Orlando and artists ACO, Fernando Blanco and others to deliver the definitive gay male superhero run. Orlando and his artistic collaborators fleshed out Midnighter beyond his murderous approach to justice, first giving him a thriving (if occasionally disastrous) dating and sex life, and then, in the pages of follow-up mini-series, Midnighter and Apollo, reuniting Midnighter with long-time partner Apollo and testing their connection to hell and back (literally). Led by the ever-inventive ACO, Midnighter’s art team embraced the innovative spirit of early-aughts Wildstorm to deliver bone-breaking action and complement Orlando’s ample moments of badass-dom. Midnighter and Midnighter & Apollo prove that gay protagonists can have the same balance of romance and blistering action that their heterosexual colleagues have been afforded for years. And if DC crusaders are your main pursuit, Marguerite Bennett’s two ongoing series, Batwoman with James Tynion IV and Steve Epting and Bombshells with a rotating squad of artists, offer additional queer action. Steve Foxe


mybroshusband.jpeg My Brother’s Husband
Writer/Artist: Gengoroh Tagame
Publisher: Pantheon
The bulk of Gengoroh Tagame’s work carries a NSFW tag: sweaty, hairy, heaving, muscle-bound men, often in bondage or some form of consensual pain play, enjoying the physical pleasures of other, similarly burly men. Tagame sneaks a quality butt shot into My Brother’s Husband, but this recent import is more about poignancy than arousal. The titular brother is recently deceased, and his Canadian husband Mike Flanagan has come to Japan to learn about his late partner’s origins and living relatives, which forces protagonist Yaichi to reflect on how he treated his twin brother’s coming out and identity. Yaichi is a single father, having amicably separated from his wife, and his young daughter Kana is immediately entranced by the Canadian gaijin, which prompts Yaichi to keep him around longer. Tagame takes a hopeful yet realistic look at modern Japan’s attitude toward homosexuality—not as fire-and-brimstone as conservative America’s, but nowhere near openly accepting—and allows Yaichi ample room to mess up and grow in response to Mike’s presence. Tagame’s mastery of the human form allows him to simplify his approach in comparison to his erotic work, lending the book an inviting, open cartooning style, and further positioning My Brother’s Husband as an accessible look at what it means to be gay in a different culture. Steve Foxe


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