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When I was a girl, growing up in the 1980’s, I was definitely not encouraged to read comics. To be fair, even many boys (then, as now) were often discouraged from reading them.  It wasn’t considered “real” reading (spoiler alert:  it is ).  Thankfully that idea is finally changing (however slowly).  It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s, at the insistence of our very own Jesse, that I went to a comic book shop for the first time.  Even with the moral support, it was hard not to be overwhelmed.  Without a lifetime of comic reading under my belt, I felt like they were speaking a language I couldn’t decipher.  And even in the early aughts, there wasn’t a crowd of women in the shop.  I grabbed onto the Origin limited series, since I was a huge fan of Wolverine, but nothing else ever stuck with me.

It wasn’t until my daughter was old enough to read that it finally clicked for me.  Again, thanks to Jesse, who, when asked for recommendations, sent me graphic novels for both my kids from his bookstore.  They loved them.  I loved them.  We wanted more.  Fortunately, our new interest coincided with what would turn out to be the advent of a surge in middle-grade graphic novel publishing.  It was a veritable explosion.

In searching for feminist stories for my daughters (and honestly, I didn’t have to search too long), I easily found a swath of diverse characters, LBGTQ representation, protagonists of color,  subverted gender stereotypes, and fairy tale tropes turned on their heads.  I was looking for stories written by women, for women, with female heroes and female-centric story arcs.  And they were EVERYWHERE.  More important, they were NEW.  No one else had the advantage of history.  I didn’t feel behind the times.  I felt, for once in my life, on the cutting edge. I could go into the comic book shop and ask for the new release.  And I did, with such regularity that the shop guys now know me by name (full disclosure: at first I was ‘that women who’s always in here buying comics for herself and graphic novels for her kids’).  I’m still one of only a handful of women who frequent the shop.

So ladies, girls, fellow feminists, if you are curious and don’t know where to start, I’ve compiled a list of recommendations below. The list could be longer, but these are my absolute favorites.  I am inclined toward the fantasy genre as you will see. I’ve left off superheroes, even though I’m a huge fan, because their backstories and history can be intimidating.  I’ve noted the trade paperback volumes, which have past issues compiled, though some of these are ongoing and you can get in new issue form once you’ve caught up. Others are limited release and all the issues are out (and compiled in a trade paperback) already.

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