6 Graphic Novels By Women You Need To Read

While you wait for Maragaret Atwood's new illustrated novel

Persepolis, film still
Persepolis, film still
(Image credit: REX)

While you wait for Maragaret Atwood's new illustrated novel

The inimitable author of The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood, has penned a graphic novel that will be published in a three-volume series next year.

What to expect? In Atwood’s own words: ‘I have concocted a superhero who is part cat, part bird. Due to some spilled genetic Super-Splicer, our hero got tangled up with both a cat and an owl; hence his fur and feathers, and his identity problems’.

Sounds wonderful, literally, full of wonder.

The title of the graphic novel (illustrated by Johnnie Christmas) is Angel Catbird. The acquiring editor at Dark Horse Comics, Daniel Chabon, also revealed the book is set to be ‘a humorous, action-driven, pulp-inspired story. And the only other thing I can tell you at this early date is to expect a lot of cat puns.’

Just. Gets. Better.

So what will you do until Atwood’s latest literary offering hits bookshops in late 2016? Read all these excellent graphic novels by women. Superheroes are just the tip of the iceberg...

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

Beaton’s web comic is an internet sensation (it’s read by 500,000 people every month) and her book is a collation of the best bits. The Canadian artist has a knack for spotting the absurd, and is able to wittily recast stuffy characters from history and literature as the kind of people you want to chat all night with. As informative as it is hilarious.

Unterzakhan by Leela Corman

Unterzakhn is a Yiddish word meaning ‘underthings’. This novel spotlights twin sisters growing up on New York’s Lower East Side during the early 20th century. It’s a compelling take on immigrant life, the particular struggles faced by women and the fierce will to survive. The story also riffs on how power shifts and life paths diverge radically across a lifetime.

Diary of a Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner A coming of age story set in 1970s San Fransisco. It was recently adapted in to a film starring British breakthrough talent Bel Powley alongside Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgård. The print version is a mix of written-through passages, comic strips and illustrations. It’s intense, raw and unforgettable.

What It Is by Lynda Barry

A sense that ‘the ordinary is extraordinary’ permeates everything Barry turns her attention to. The artist and writer studied with Matt Groening (The Simpsons creator) and has pioneered a unique style of comic book making that is collage-heavy. What It Is is a genre-defying book (mostly about writing) – it poses inspiring questions bound to unlock your curiosity and creativity.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

From the woman who coined the ‘Bechdel Test’ – a way of measuring whether a woman is an active presence in a work of fiction or film* comes memoir Fun Home. It’s a heartbreaking bank of memories, rich with dark comedy and hauntingly illustrated.

* Just ask: does the work feature at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man? Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

This award-winning autobiography recounts Satrapi’s formative years in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution. Now widely celebrated as a modern literary masterpiece it should be at the top of every woman’s must-read list. Top tip: read the book before you see the excellent animation released in 2007.

The leading destination for fashion, beauty, shopping and finger-on-the-pulse views on the latest issues. Marie Claire's travel content helps you delight in discovering new destinations around the globe, offering a unique – and sometimes unchartered – travel experience. From new hotel openings to the destinations tipped to take over our travel calendars, this iconic name has it covered.