Special thanks to GeekDad and to the article’s writer Mordechai Luchins for sharing. See the original article here.
Back in February, I wrote a list of comics I’d recommend for a 7-year-old girl. Several people got in touch with me over social media to point out issues with the article and to give what they felt were better choices. I loved this and figured, hey, sounds like a follow-up is needed!
Here are the guidelines I used to judge inclusion:
- Titles must be female-led. Yes, girls can read comics about boys, but our focus is on representation.
- Titles should be more than a toy ad or a cliche. Something beyond “girls solve problems by making people their besties” and/or “boy trouble.” Girls can kick ass physically or emotionally, but they must kick ass.
- Books must be in print!
- Books don’t have to be superhero books or monthly comics. As long as it is a comic you would (or should) find in a well-stocked comic book store, then it’s fair game.
- Age is important. As I note above, this is where some feel I fell short last time.
- This list should not be considered any kind of authoritative list. My first list had some flaws, and this may as well. Your mileage may vary.
Before we get to my list, I’d like to give some Honorable Mentions to books suggested by others that I have not yet read.
- Jill Thompson’s Scary Godmother and Magic Trixie books.
- Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, which Amazon keeps suggesting. I’ve just learned the first two chapters are online, so you may want to try it.
- Hildafolk by Luke Pearson, part of a series of tales about a young protagonist named Hilda.
- The Courageous Princess, Rod Espinoza’s tale (well, tales, there’s three volumes now) of a princess who doesn’t need rescuing. This is similar to another book in the full list, but different enough to note.
- If your daughter wants more traditional superhero fair, I don’t think I’d recommend Spider-Gwen (too continuity referential) or Spider-Woman (just not sure where it is headed), but Silk is turning out to be pretty solid. One downside? Your kids may want to know what pheromones are.
Kazu Kibuishi’s tale of a family sucked into an otherworldly war may have been the most common suggestion. Now that I have finally read it, I am willing to recommend it, with one caveat. It’s an amazing book, but the death of the father is way, way too emotionally intense for some 7-year-olds; they get in a car accident, the father is pinned, and as the mother tries to rescue him the car falls into a chasm. All on panel. Then later the protagonist has to re-live that when something happens to her mother. It’s a great book, but read it first and make sure your kid is ready for the emotion.Available from:
Also available from:
This title has the distinction of being the only one I have not personally read. It is here by recommendation alone. Yes, I’d heard of it, but it really seemed too simplistic to me.
Scott Robins, a children’s librarian out on the front lines, disagrees. “I find Babymouse has appeal over a wide range of ages despite looking ‘young,'” he told me. In reviewing the book, I do see the charm. I don’t know if it passes the “kickass protagonist” test, but I’m adding it based on Robins’s recommendation, a prior GeekDad review, and the Amazon reviews. That, and when I tried to take it out from my local library, there was a wait. That’s a darn good sign.Also available from:
We own both volumes of Barry Deutsch’s utterly charming series about Mirka, an 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl who wants to fight dragons. Mr. Deustch just posted the art for the cover of the third book, due out in November 2015.
One great thing about this book is that Mirka is not perfect. She gets angry with her stepmother (who is not wicked, sorry), frustrated with her siblings, and makes mistakes. She also follows through and resolves those mistakes. An excellent read.Available from:
GeekDad has covered this book before, Roger Langridge’s story of a fugitive abominable snowman who befriends a little girl.
General rule: Anything with Roger Langridge’s name on it is solid gold. This series just wrapped up, but stores should still have it and there may be a trade paperback soon.Available from:
This book is possibly for audiences older than seven. I suggest reading it yourself first. Ted Naifeh is a great creator. In this series he tackles a “barbarian” princess, fulfilling an oath made on her mother’s deathbed … to go to Princess Finishing School.
The stories have an element of violence to them, and the bullying by the “mean girl” clique of princess may be too harsh for some kids, but it’s well written with good art and a strong message.Available from:
I confess to a maybe-more-than-normal love of Dana Simpson’s webcomic. It actually launched in newspapers this April, with one of the largest such launches in some time. People have a tendency to describe it as “Calvin and Hobbes for girls,” but that is as inaccurate as it it reductive. Phoebe’s unicorn friend is not, like Hobbes, something only she can see. Rather, she is a flesh-and-blood, slightly arrogant unicorn. She interacts with the whole cast, and Phoebe interacts with the other unicorns. Strong art and just fun stories makes either volume an excellent choice.Available from:
A princess gets sick of waiting 'round in a castle and rescues herself, then sets off to rescue her sisters. Because, you see, her father has stuck them all in castles to be saved and married off. Because that’s what you do in fairy tales.
This is a fun book on the one hand, and on the other it’s a brilliant introduction to traditional gender roles and why they suck and must be demolished. With a dragon, if possible. Think of it as My First Guide to the Patriarchy. My hat is off to Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin for creating such a fun series.Available from:
Now that you’ve got the booklist, check out these tips on How to Read Comics with Your Kids.