The fact that I like a good number of slice of life comics has totally snuck up on me. But the books in this post are some of my favorite comics, so obviously when I fall, I fall hard. If you’re looking to sit back, chill, and follow some fantastic characters around in their lives, I highly recommend all of the following. (Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links.)
Any book or series on this list I loved at the time I read it, whether I had a chance to write a review or not. Obviously a re-read years later might reveal a problematic aspect I didn’t pick up on back then. Please let me know via my contact form if you find something yikes in a book I recommend.
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/awkward romances, girl-power derby bonding, office hijinks, and the occasional werewolf humor in this long-running webcomic (which I really need to get caught up on!). The people are all drawn so cute. Bonnie herself is exuberant, a steadfast friend, and bi. 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.
Loved this slice of life graphic novel, a set of short stories about a group of Black friends. Friendship, family, love, dealing with mental health, learning how to be supportive of people dealing with mental health (loved the growth arc there!), queer rep… Seriously one of the best graphic novels I read in 2022.
“Wash Day Diaries tells the story of four best friends — Kim, Tanisha, Davene, and Cookie — through five connected short story comics that follow these young women through the ups and downs of their daily lives in the Bronx.
The book takes its title from the wash day experience shared by Black women everywhere of setting aside all plans and responsibilities for a full day of washing, conditioning, and nourishing their hair. Each short story uses hair routines as a window into these four characters’ everyday lives and how they care for each other.
[The] authors pay tribute to Black sisterhood through portraits of shared, yet deeply personal experiences of Black hair care. From self-care to spilling the tea at an hours-long salon appointment to healing family rifts, the stories are brought to life through beautifully drawn characters and different color palettes reflecting the mood in each story.”
“After insomniac law clerk Frances Scarland is recruited by her firm’s most notorious senior partner, she seems poised for serious advancement — whether she wants it or not. But when her impulsive best friend Vickie decides to move to the opposite coast for an acting role, Frances’ confusing existence starts to implode…”
Both adults in our house were absolutely blown away by this, thinking it was a debut graphic novel. Even now that I know Lin had used a pen name previously, I am still blown away. It takes real mastery to do slice of life storytelling like this.
“Jesus, the Son of God. Buddha, the Enlightened One. Two of history’s most important figures whose sagely deeds have been told and retold. After a few millennia of helping humanity, they have decided to take some time off and rent an apartment together in modern-day Tokyo. But even their saintly status hasn’t fully prepared them to navigate the ups and downs of life in 21st century Japan, from theme parks, to shopping for rice cookers, to the wonderful world of manga. Follow this pair on a goofy, light-hearted, and pun-filled adventure in friendship.”
It’s the quirkiest slice-of-life absurdity and I am so in love with it. I have read nine omnibuses so far and ordered the next two. If you want something lighthearted that’s easy to pick up and put down as you fancy, this is a great pick.
Fun comic about a bunch of nice people that I enjoyed just as much on a second read.
“Postcards in Braille is a comic about a group of friends stepping into adulthood, in a world not too different from ours. Oh, and two of these friends are dating. And one of them is blind.”
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.
“Shirin, Nina, and Silvia have just gotten their first jobs in publishing, at a University Press, a traditional publisher, and a trust-fund kid’s “indie” publisher, respectively. And it’s… great? They know they’re paying their dues and the challenges they meet (Shirin’s boss just assumes she knows Cantonese, Nina cannot get promoted by sheer force of will, and Silvia has to deal with daily microaggressions) are just part of ‘a career in books.’ When they meet their elderly neighbor, Veronica Vo, and discover she’s a Booker Prize winner dubbed the ‘Tampax Tolstoy’ by the press, each woman finds a thread of inspiration from Veronica’s life to carry on her own path. And the result is full of twists and revelations that surprise not only the reader but the women themselves.”
I often bounce off graphic novels with this much text on each page, but I’m glad I didn’t. This is a lovely, warm story. Gavino really got me to slow down and settle into the lives of Nina, Silvia, and Shirin, to learn about and appreciate each of them as individuals and also as a wonderful friend trio.
And then a read that’s heavier, but so excellent. I think the variety of books in this post really speaks to the may ways a creator can use this kind of narrative structure.
An excellent graphic novel about a young woman struggling with depression, who acts as a support to friends while having a tough time getting the care she needs. I feel fortunate this was translated into English because my French is way too rusty to tackle something like this. CW: depression, suicidal ideation thoroughout, reference to past sexual assault.
“Clara’s at a breaking point. She’s got writer’s block, her friends ask a lot without giving much, her psychologist is useless, and her demanding publishing job leaves little time for self care. She seeks solace in the community around her, yet, while her friends provide support and comfort, she is often left feeling empty, unable to express an underlying depression that leaves her immobilized and stifles any attempts at completing her poetry collection. In This Is How I Disappear, Mirion Malle paints an empathetic portait of a young woman wrestling with psychological stress and the trauma following a sexual assault.
Malle displays frankness and a remarkable emotional intelligence as she explores depression, isolation, and self-harm in her expertly drawn novel. Her heroine battles an onslaught of painful emotions, and while Clara can provide consolation to those around her, she finds it difficult to bestow the same understanding on herself. Only when she allows her community to guide her toward self-love does she find relief.”
And that’s the list. I hope you find something new and interesting for your TBR.