You know who you are. You wear Warby Parker glasses, you have waxed poetic on your love of carbohydrates, and Rachel Maddow doesn’t know she’s your best friend. You’re a lady nerd. And you’re great. All you’re missing to achieve supreme nerdiness, nerdiness that surpasses gender, is the ability to retell, in great detail, the plot of your favorite graphic novel.
Here’s the problem. You love the idea of the graphic novel. But as a Warby Parker-wearing, carb-loving, worshipper in the house of Maddow, the porny element drives you insane. Me too. People say that Sandman is an indictment of modern society and Tank Girl is a feminist icon — but if that is true, why do those books keep shoving boobs in our faces? I have nothing against boobs (I even own a pair myself) but do we really need our heroines to be super-stacked to root for them? What size bra did Elizabeth Bennett wear? Did Tess Durbeyfield have great cleavage? Did Catherine Earnshaw’s breasts giver her back problems? These are questions no one has asked, ever.
Fortunately, there has recent been a boom of talented artists writing graphic novels that are smart, funny, and totally easy to nerd-out over. And the best part: They don’t need to be stashed under the mattress. Unless that’s where you keep your books, in which case you and I need to have a conversation about shelves.
Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
Do you see fodder for jokes in Benedict Arnold’s invasion of Quebec in 1775? How about the fact that the Easter Rising run by Irish poets? Do you not understand how Elizabeth I was taken seriously in her enormous neck ruff? This comic book is the one for you. It’s a collection of the best cartoons from Kate Beaton’s hilarious website with the same name. And might I add, the word ‘hark’ in and of itself is fantastic?
Syllabus by Lynda Barry
Lynda Barry is the supportive hippie professor that you kinda wished/thought was your mom in college. If she was your supportive hippie mom, she would totally get all your weird dreams. And she wouldn’t mind if you smoked pot in your room. Hell, she’d probably lend you her records. But she’s not your mom. So read this book of her advice on how to write. She’ll nurture the inner author.