True North Country Comics presents Kate Leth’s top 10 go-to comic book and graphic novel list.
Kate is a bestselling writer and cartoonist, specializing in teen and all-ages stories for both page and screen who hails from Halifax, Nova Scotia. You can find her licensed comics work in Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat for Marvel, as well as series such as Vampirella, Girl Over Paris, Edward Scissorhands, Fraggle Rock, three Adventure Time graphic novels and two volumes of Mysticons. Her creator-owned work includes the all-ages Power Up from Boom Studios, the romantic high school adventure School Spirit, and the supernatural teen thriller Spell on Wheels from Dark Horse.
Here’s Kate Leth’s top 10 go-to comic books and graphic novels.
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
“Maybe an obvious choice, but a brilliant one. This beautiful, moving, queer story captures the yearning and angst of teenhood in a way rarely seen. The art is stunning. The layouts are inspired. The use of a single colour? Chef’s kiss. Everything by the creative team is great, together and separately.”
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
“This ‘fictionalized autobiography’ inspired my own in a huge way. I’ve loved Vera’s work for years (she contributed to the film version of Coraline, and her first book Anya’s Ghost is also a treasure) and this is no different. The story about summer camp, her immigrant upbringing and the struggle to fit in is both poignant and hilarious. Her expressions are top notch.”
Band VS Band by Kathleen Jacques
“The biggest thing I stole from this book is the colour palette, but there’s so much to love. This good girl/bad girl love story set to the backdrop of the local music scene is such a delight. It’s funny, queer, and adorable. It really captures a lived experience not everyone has gotten to enjoy, and that window into another world is something I love about comics.”
Chester 5000 XYV by Jess Fink
“This fully NSFW comic isn’t Jess’ most recent work, but it was my gateway to her art and holds a really special place in my heart. If you like hot robots and Victorian aesthetics, this is right up your alley. Highly recommend following her twitter/patreon for new art (she’s working on a story about sexy satyrs) but if you can track down a copy of this book and/or its sequel, you should!”
Relish by Lucy Knisley
“I’m sure anyone who loves graphic novels has already read and loved Lucy’s work (you simply must follow her instagram), but this book will always stand apart to me. It’s autobiographical, about her childhood with foodie chef parents, but of course it’s more than that. The colours! The style! Fantastic stuff.”
Smile by Raina Telgemeier
“Another classic, and a juggernaut of the kids’ comics world; Smile is the golden standard. If you want to know what appeals to young girls, you have to read Raina’s work. It doesn’t hurt that she’s one of the loveliest and most supportive people I’ve ever met, but she also happens to be an incredible cartoonist. Buy it for your niece and read it yourself – then buy Sisters, Drama, Guts, Ghosts, and put yourself on the waiting list for whatever comes next.”
Through The Woods by Emily Carroll
“What can be said about this perfect horror comic that hasn’t been said already? Emily’s comics are singular. For my money, nobody else captures fear, dread and ecstatic tension like she does. Read the book, then her webcomics, then Baba Yaga’s Assistant – an awesome YA book she illustrated with author Marika McCoola. Complete tonal shift. Get you a girl who can do both, etc.”
Marbles by Ellen Forney
“This book hit me at the exact right time in my life. It’s Forney’s autobiographical journey through her diagnosis and treatment of bipolar 2. The intricacies of mental health, the highs and lows of mania and depression – as someone who struggles deeply with a bad brain, it’s like comfort food to me. I will never stop recommending this book. Bonus: Find her book Lust, a collection of her illustrated personal ads from the Seattle Stranger.”
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
“Another beautiful YA book! This lovely, delicate, deeply felt book is the story of a Prince who desires to dress as a woman and the dressmaker he hires in secret to help him live out that dream. Soft, touching, and masterfully drawn. Any kid dipping their toe in the pool of gender exploration should get a copy – it’s encouraging without preaching. Seek out Jen Wang’s art wherever you can.”
Hark: A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
“I realize this list is primarily Canadian women, but I likes what I likes! Kate Beaton has been an inspiration for nearly ten years now (how time flies!), and this series started it all. I had always loved webcomics – I grew up on Dinosaur Comics, A Softer World, XKCD and Wigu – but never realized that, duh, women could make them too. Kate’s comics genuinely cracked that world open for me and gave me the nerve to start drawing my own. I wouldn’t be here without her! Nothing’s more inspiring than that.”
You can discover more about Kate on Twitter at @kateleth and online at KateLeth.com and on Patreon.com/KateLeth