It took me a while to realize how many comics about love, dating, and romance I was reading and enjoying… even though I read romance novels! I mentally classified most of these graphic novels as “slice of life” comics, I guess? Once I realized I had a theme going, clearly I had to to round them up on my blog. So here’s the list of romance graphic novels I love and recommend. Hope you find something new to read!
Before we jump in:
- All comics here can be bought as graphic novels/collections, not only as single issues. Your library may own many of these!
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Gallagher’s own words describe this better than I ever could: “The story of Bonnie N. Collide, a roller-girl, and the adventures she has at a humdrum day job. Bonnie’s inability to separate her vibrant roller derby life from her normal working life means she gets to gleefully crash from one aspect of her life into another, seamlessly, and using the same amount of gusto. Oh, and one of her coworkers is a werewolf named Herb.”
I absolutely can’t resist the combo of sweet (and awkward) romances, girl-power derby bonding, office hijinks, and the occasional werewolf humor in this long-running webcomic, now available in print. The people are all drawn so cute! Bonnie herself is exuberant, a steadfast friend, and bi (yay!). There are many queer characters, a significant woman of color character, and the hot derby girls aren’t all tiny. It’s a soap opera, and I mean that in a good way, so if you need some suds in your life, this is a great one to pick.
Charming, adorable, diverse, and queer sci-fi comic set in a future when people have almost completely given up directly touching each other. Sex is a recreational activity that happens in virtual reality, and anyone who expresses interest in romantic love or touch is regarded with extreme suspicion. Our two main characters are Abeille and Miel. Yes, Abeille means bee, and Miel means honey, so even if you knew nothing else, you can see where this is going. They meet by literally running into each other, and Abeille can’t stop thinking about how that human contact felt. What follows is her and Miel’s journey towards reclaiming touch as part of their sexuality, and the impacts their relationship has on various people around them.
I’m enjoying this series, especially how the writing and the character relationships and cast grow over time. I will definitely be supporting the Kickstarter for the second book whenever it begins!
Jacques describes this as a “retro-cartoon-inspired, queer, handlettering-obsessed comic series about rival girl-fronted rock bands.” One of the bands is daisies and kittens and all things wholesome. One of the bands is punk AF, never saw a sign they didn’t want to deface, and snarls a lot. So of course, the gay lead singers have crushes on each other. We supported this on Kickstarter mostly on a whim, not having a clue if we’d like it, and I was immediately hooked. The characters are so funny and the art is so dang cute. It’s a super slow burn, with plenty of band hijinx, song lyrics, and cute cats. TRY IT!
Diversity note: Jacques is gay.
I really loved this queer YA comic about two young men falling in a very tangled attraction. Neither of our two heroes is initially that easy to like, but as the story developed, I couldn’t help but hope they’d figure themselves out and find a way to de-complicate everything so they have a chance together. Which will apparently be happening only in a future volume, because teenagers, what can you do? The art style is distinctive, with super clean penciling and a huge variety of paneling styles. I’m definitely looking forward to a next book.
Content note: violence and homophobia. Also, one of the characters has a girfriend so he’s cheating – again with the whole “teenager” thing, they don’t always make the best choices. (Granted, neither do adults.)
Diversity note: Malin Rydén is queer.
Quiet little queer romance between a ghost and a gardener who can see ghosts, with a bit of supernatural drama arising from the gardener’s powers. It’s structured a bit strangely IMHO, like one complete story and then a very long epilogue. Fine with me, though, since I found the art, the atmosphere, and the emotional connection between the two characters compelling. The color scheme feels very different and distinctive, and I would love to shop at Hamal’s plant nursery. (If I could keep a plant alive ever.) If you like the cover and quiet love stories about adorable people, definitely give it a try.
Diversity note: Keezy Young is queer and nonbinary.
Jen Van Meter has my undying gratitude for writing these stories about the happy, loving Hopeless-Savage family, a clan comprised of two parents who met during their careers as punk rock musicians, then settled down to have four children in a suburban setting which isn’t always the best match. The first arc is centered on the youngest daughter, Zero Hopeless-Savage. Whether foiling her parents’ kidnapping, de-brainwashing her oldest brother who is working for a corporate coffee chain, or living through a documentary film crew following them around, Zero is one of the most genuine and wonderful teenagers I’ve had the pleasure to read about… and did I mention she meets a great guy? Oh yes! And he is awesome! We also get good arcs about each older sibling, including Zero’s gay older brother Twitch. His lost romance and his little sister’s fledgling one collide beautifully at one point, and it’s so sweet it practically brought me to happy tears. Sometimes love is hard, and sometimes it’s awesome, and often you just have to rock out.
I also enjoyed the followup graphic novel Hopeless Savages: Break, with art by Meredith McClaren, for more adventures with Zero.
The covers don’t do this manga justice, but trust me on this one.
Shiro is a middle-aged lawyer who spends his nights cooking gourmet multi-course meals at home. He shares the meals, and his home, with his hairdresser boyfriend Kenji – but Shiro isn’t out at work. The series bounces around between different happenings in Shiro and Kenji’s lives, past and present. Foodies will love the in-depth step-by-step recipes and Shiro’s explanations of why he prepares the food as he does. The rest of us can skim those parts and get to the next “adventure” as Shiro stays closeted at work, Kenji doesn’t, ex-partners pop up, legal cases arise, and grocery prices are tracked very closely. (If there was extreme couponing in Japan, Shiro would do it.) There are super-touching moments, some absolutely hilarious parts, and it’s such an interesting look into a facet of gay life in Japan.
I’ve read up through the latest volume out right now, which is volume 12. It’s very slow-moving for character and relationship development, and I know some folks have had trouble with that, but it’s worth trying the first several volumes to get a real feel for the series. Shiro’s character, especially, has a lot going on with his family and his identity as a gay man in a culture that isn’t welcoming, and sometimes he does things that seem to under-value his relationship with Kenji. I never worry, though, because by now I know the author is going to circle back around and allow him to keep growing.
Oh, dude, Amal! Don’t get blind drunk two weeks before med school finals and right after you come out to your conservative parents and break off your engagement. That’s just not good. And if you wake up hungover with a stoner in your apartment and he says you agreed to drive him cross country and he’s going to pay for everything with cash? RUN AWAY. I don’t care if he’s cute and you really need to change your headspace and he’s good in bed and actually listens to what you say and accepts who you are as a person. Seriously, I can see bad things happening! Where did all TJ’s money come from?! Aw hell never mind. Y’all are too cute. I’m just going to hope for the best.
More seriously, this is a stunningly well-crafted love story / road trip comic! It’s one of those books where if I talk about it in person, I just end up flailing my hands. It’s that good. I’m trying very hard not to pick a top favorite from my favorites, but if I did…
C-Man brought this high school romantic comedy manga series home from the library and almost fell off the couch laughing. I started reading it and also almost fell off the couch laughing. So, protective gear is advisable?
It starts by subverting your expectations. Takeo, the giant bruiser who would normally be the sidekick, is the romantic lead. The glamorous looking cool guy is a secondary character, Takeo’s infinitely patient best friend Sunakawa. When Takeo falls in love with Yamato, this tiny, cute girl in his grade, it becomes clear that both parties are 100% clueless, in the most mutually devoted and entertaining way. If it weren’t for the periodic intervention of Sunakawa, it’s anybody’s guess what would become of this poor couple.
It’s refreshing, sweet, and well worth the 12 not-overly-long volumes. This was our most anticipated series for a couple of years until it concluded.
Lisa and Ally thought they could get together for some BDSM entertainment with no strings attached. Hahaha, you silly girls, that would be too easy. Five volumes worth of feeeelings later, the series concluded, and Sunstone fans everywhere almost freaked out until we were told there would be spinoffs. It’s too hard to let go of such a geeky, adorable, complex-because-people-are-dorks romance vibe like this! If you have triggers for BDSM elements, clearly this won’t work for you, but if you’re even neutral and you want more stories in your life about two ladies falling in love? Check this out.
ALSO: This comic proves that superhero comics don’t *have* to objectify women. Because if you can create a five volume series about two women who do BDSM and are often in lingerie, and they’re not objectified? Then there’s no excuse for so many women who punch supervillains to be drawn the way they sometimes are.
Archie (Amazon/Comixology / Goodreads) By Mark Waid. Across the first four volumes: Illustrated by Fiona Staples, Annie Wu, Veronica Fish, Joe Eisma, and Pete Woods. Art assistance by Thomas Pitilli and Ryan Jampole. Colors by Andre Szymanowicz and Jen Vaughn. Letters by Jack Morelli.
I had no exposure to the Archie universe before starting this high school soap opera, so I didn’t know what to expect, but I’ve found Mark Waid’s take on Archie and his pals great fun. If you’re not familiar with the Archie-verse, the setup is that our hapless main character, Archie, is caught between two girls: wholesome blonde Betty and scheming rich brunette Veronica. Love triangles rarely interest me, but I’ve been impressed with how not-triangle-y Waid had made this, with all three characters being humans rather than stereotypes. The series had antics and hijinks galore, a refreshingly diverse cast of secondary characters, and it’s something to read when you’re in the mood for fun teen drama.
So far, there are five collected volumes published, and it’s an ongoing series.
One of my blog readers suggested this series to me, so if you’re still reading, thank you! I’ve been enjoying this series that follows two young women with the same name, Nana, who meet by chance and end up as roommates. Enough material was published for twenty-one volumes before the creator became ill and had to put the series on hiatus, and I’m only up through the seventh.
It feels very slice of life and new adult soap opera. Rock star hopeful Nana and no-career-yet Nana (who ends up nicknamed Hachi) interact with a continuously shifting group of lovers and friends clustered around members of Nana’s band. I had to steel myself early on not to get attached to any of Hachi’s boyfriends, or really any other pairing that seems like a good idea, because it seems inevitable that the author will break them up almost as quickly as they get together. (And am I misinterpreting that the over-arching narration, with Hachi telling us the story from some future point, starts to confirm a very slow arc of Hachi falling in love with Nana?)
So yeah, I have 14 more volumes before it potentially cliffhangs… but I know that’s an occupational hazard in episodic storytelling like comics and television, and I enjoy each volume’s (melo)drama so much that I won’t be freaking out about “what happens next?!” Hopefully.
I’m kind of stunned that according to a source linked from Wikipedia, the series overall had sold over 43,600,000 collected volumes as of 2008. That’s a lot of manga.
That concludes today’s roundup of comics about love, romance, and dating that I love and recommend! If you have any suggestions for me, please leave them in the comments – and thanks for sharing this post on social media or with friends.