Instead of listing the best books, comics or graphic novels over a year, I decided to compile a list of some works over the past decade, in no particular order that center Black women. Whether low or high fantasy, romance, memoirs, self-reflection, contemporary, science fiction or drama, there has been a slow, yet steady upward pace of having more Black women as protagonists. After Agent Orange was “elected” in 2016, I noticed more mainstream books and comics showcasing worlds that centered Blackness but particularly Black women. So this list will highlight a few favorites.
Black Panther: World of Wakanda by Roxane Gay. Gay wrote a world, inside of the world of Wakanda that focused on the women of Wakanda and Ayo and Aneka’s love affair that faced challenges as they protected the kingdom.
Bingo Love by Tee Franklin was a successful Kickstarter project that created a fandom of its own. The adorable story of two women who meet each other in church in the 1960s and fall in love at first sight but have to surpress their love for societal expectations.
Daniel Black’s Perfect Peace is the heartbreaking portrait of a large, rural southern family’s attempt to grapple with their mother’s desperate decision to make her newborn son into the daughter she will never have.
The Search For Sadiqah by Greg Burnham follows 13-year-old Sadiqah who is forced to flee Oklahoma and head west into the unknown. Little does she know, she’s carrying an item so valuable, that adversaries will chase her to the ends of the earth to claim it. Accompanied by a most unlikely guide, Sadiqah will face many obstacles, make new friends, and a few enemies on her quest for the truth.
Moon Girl and the Devil Dinosaur is a must have for young girls. The smartest person in the Marvel Universe is 4th grader with a dinosaur.
N.K. Jemisin knows how to write some great science fiction and fantasy. She is writing the newly chosen Green Lantern for DC Comics and her name is Sojourner “Jo” Mullein.
Read everything Toni Morrison. Two girls who grow up to become women. Two friends who become something worse than enemies. In this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison tells the story of Nel Wright and Sula Peace, who meet as children in the small town of Medallion, Ohio. Their devotion is fierce enough to withstand bullies and the burden of a dreadful secret.
Nnedi Okorafor and Tana Ford create an alternative world where aliens have come to Earth and integrated with society, LaGuardia revolves around a pregnant Nigerian-American doctor, Future Nwafor Chukwuebuka who has just returned to NYC under mysterious conditions.
Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists is a fun and fascinating graphic novel-style primer that covers the key figures and events that have advanced women’s rights from antiquity to the modern era. In addition, this compelling book illuminates the stories of notable women throughout history–from queens and freedom fighters to warriors and spies–and the progressive movements led by women that have shaped history, including abolition, suffrage, labor, civil rights, LGBTQ liberation, reproductive rights, and more.
Set during the Harlem Renaissance, the Sangerye Family is on a mission to save New York—and the world—from the supernatural forces threatening to destroy humanity. Magic, conjuring and monsters included. Ryan Coogler will be producing the film version of this comic book, too.
AFAR is a coming-of-age fantasy tale about two siblings. Boetema can astrally project, and her brother, Inotu, is forced to grow up when their reckless parents leave to work as salt shepherds. Boetema is tasked with figuring out why she dreams she’s in other people’s bodies, and in doing so, makes matters worse on a planet hundreds of light-years away. Inotu struggles to become a confident and supportive brother while they’ve been left alone by their parents. Poor, sleep-deprived, and on the run from a cyborg, the siblings work together to overcome their own personal obstacles, making their way across the desert to the thriving metropolis, Yopan.
Riri makes her comics debut in true Iron Man style! While Tony Stark is in deep cover on the island of Madripoor, a 15-year-old MIT prodigy is making plans of her own! And when Riri’s secret project gets the attention of her teachers, she decides to unveil it to them in a big way!
Talk Like A Man by Nisi Shawl is a ride for the ages. You will pick up this book and say oh, this is going to be an easy read because it’s not a big book then you are going to start reading it and be blown away and taken aback on the number of times you will have to re-read to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Shawl combines school girls, tech and Blackness in a remarkable way. Nisi Shawl’s Talk Like A Man is a mental adventure.
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler. It doesn’t matter if you read the original book or the graphic novel, Octavia E. Butler is a force to be reckoned with.
Naomi by David Walker for DC Comics. When a fight between Superman and Mongul crashes into a small Northwestern town, Naomi (last name?) begins a quest to uncover the last time a super-powered person visited her home—and how that might tie into her own origins and adoption. Follow Naomi’s journey on a quest that will take her to the heart of the DC Universe and unfold a universe of ideas and stories that have never been seen before.
Motor Crush. Domino Swift competes for fame and fortune in a worldwide motorcycle racing league. By night, she cracks heads of rival gangs in brutal bike wars to gain possession of a rare, valuable contraband: an engine-boosting “machine narcotic” known as Crush.
The Wicked + The Divine.The series is largely influenced by pop music and various mythological deities and includes the themes of life and death in the story.
Children of Blood and Bone
Zélie remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. When different clans ruled – Burners igniting flames, Tiders beckoning waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoning forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, anyone with powers was targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Only a few people remain with the power to use magic, and they must remain hidden.
Moonstruck. A queer werewolf graphic novel? Count me in.
Aza comics is a woman universe where all the heroines are kick-ass.
Catrice M. Jackson’s follow-up to her book Becky’s Code, Unf*ckablewith wants Black women to center themselves and fight against white violence and misogynoir.
Fabulize mag’s very own, TaLynn Kel released a book covering the racism and fatphobia in cosplay and geek culture and the journey to holding white people acountable.
Malika by YouNeek Studios. Set in fifteenth-century West Africa, Malika: Warrior Queen follows the exploits of Queen and military commander, Malika, who struggles to keep the peace in her ever-expanding empire.
Ice Witch by Regine Sawyer.Chenoa D’Ken was born to kill. As the matriarch of the intergalactic assassination faction under the umbrella organization R.A.I.D.E.R.S , the mere whisper of her code name ‘Ice Witch’ instilled fear in the most hardened of criminals. But after finding an existence outside of contract killing; choosing to get married and start a family, Chenoa’s life began to take a drastic turn….for the better. Until it was all ripped away by the same people she had been the most loyal to. With her husband murdered and huge bounty on her head there isn’t anywhere left for Chenoa and her infant daughter Mae to go…except to her former enemy the governing entity; the Intergalactic Confederated Alliance, accepting clemency for her crimes and their protection from her former employers….but at what price?