Gateway Comics For Girls Who Don’t Read Comics

As a woman who has been avidly reading comics since I was very young, it still sometimes confuses me how often I am asked "what are some comics that I can give my girlfriend to get her started?" I suppose because I am a woman comics reader I should be the "expert" on such things, but while there are certainly comic books that women who have never touched a comic in their life might more readily pick up, I think that if you give her comics YOU like, she might also like them.

However, in the interest of this article, let us pretend that your girlfriend/lady friend/whathaveyou is a "typical" female non comics reader, one who is not particularly interested in superhero comics or blood and gore. Instead, she may be more interested in something with beautiful artwork, an interesting storyline, and deep characterization.

Consider, also, not thrusting any first timers deep into a huge expansive universe: comics with a rich history that stretches back decades are completely daunting for some people. I only recently started reading DC that wasn't Batman, and I was completely lost and confused for issues and issues until I took advantage of the internet's vast stores of information on comic book storylines.

So, here's your friendly guide to what you should shove into a lady's hands… of the literary persuasion, pervs.


Blankets by Craig Thompson

I went through a brief couple of years where I was barely reading comic books, mostly due to getting distracted by fashion/modeling and college life, not to mention that there wasn't a comic book store where I was going to school (what the hell, right?). Even though I was still reading X-Men every Wednesday, I was pretty much out of the comics loop… and then I met a boy. No, no, not like that. But he was reading a trade of the Sentry in my Advanced English class, and I was determined to make him my new BFF. His house was like the comic store our college town lacked: his bedroom was wall to wall with long boxes and teetering shelves of trades. Hanging out with him caused my love of comics to be reignited with such intensity, but I had no idea where to begin again. This darling friend of mine listened to my plight, and very purposefully he pulled a massive comic off of his shelf and handed it to me, uttering the words: "I've kept two copies of this comic just because I always knew the day would come that I'd have to give one to a girl."

I still have this particular comic that was given to me years ago, though at this point it's dog eared and well loved due to the fact I pay it forward and lend it to nearly all of my comic book "n00b" girlfriends. That particular comic is Blankets by Craig Thompson, one of the most beautifully tragic and insightful coming of age and love stories I have ever read. I know for a fact it has made some of my most stoic friends bawl at the end, both boy and girl alike. It's poignant and incredible, with gorgeous art and a riveting and compelling slice of life storyline. Blankets is semi-biographical and also explores the complexities of faith and religion, how our childhoods affect us, and first loves. If you want any girl to become hungry for more exceptional indie comics, provide her with Blankets.


Scott PIlgrim

Yes, yes, Scott Pilgrim is currently all over pop culture radar due to the (super ace) movie that just came out. However, it's also an AWESOME graphic novel series, with female characters that betray the typical stereotype. All of the ladies within it are super badass hipster chicks with sharp wit. They cannot be lumped in with the usual female comic archetypes, and the storyline is incredibly unique.

If you, yourself, haven't read Scott Pilgrim than I highly suggest you remedy that. Now. This second. This MOMENT. But assuming you HAVE (as it's hard to avoid), you probably know a girl or two who has seen Scott Pilgrim propaganda plastered everywhere and is curious to try it out. I guarantee you that if you hand her the first couple of graphic novels she will almost certainly be hooked, reeled in by the simplified art style, the adorable and unique characters, and the retro gaming references that is sure to appeal to most people in "our" generation.



I feel like maybe I write about Brian K. Vaughan's Runaways way too much — I usually find a way to slip a reference about it into most articles — but this cannot be denied: I EFFING LOVE RUNAWAYS. It is perhaps one of the most underrated comics Marvel has come out with in the last decade, and with the creative, iconic and geek god mind of Joss Whedon behind six issues of it, I'm not sure why it doesn't have more of a following. Remember earlier when I mentioned how I fell out of comics for a couple of years? Runaways was certainly one of those comics that pulled me back in, hook line and sinker.

Runaways has allusions and nods to other superhero comics that aren't overwhelming so it's still a great gateway for the unfamiliar. With cameos from well known (and not so well known… see: Cloak and Dagger) characters within the Marvel Universe, it still ties in with a lot of canon storylines without being too over the top and daunting.

Not to mention the female characters in it are unique and interesting, with great back stories. One of them is even a lesbian alien, and another has a pet velociraptor that she communicates with telepathically. Badass? I think so.

Even if you haven't read Runaways, if you know a girl (or guy!) who wants to get more into the "big two", I'd definitely suggest this comic with utmost enthusiasm. It's accessible with a great storyline and beautiful art that doesn't alienate first timers.


Birds of Prey

The rule is this: If I talk about Marvel, I have to talk about DC. That's not hard for me in this instance however, because Gail Simone's run of Birds of Prey is an absolute must read for any lady wanting to familiarize herself with iconic yet still totally badass female characters. Add to that the fact that Gail Simone is excellent at writing strong yet sensitive and relateable women, and Birds of Prey definitely deserves a spot on this list.

Following the "adventures" of former Batgirl Babara Gordon, now called Oracle, and her group of super hot kick ass vigilante babes, it may seem an obvious choice for a guide of "for girls" comics… but I know plenty of guys who are also way into it, due to the excellent writing, art, and overall wonderful storytelling (it probably also has something to do with the outfits some of the ladies sport, too).



As a little girl raised on Grimms Fairytales as bedtime stories, Fables was a refreshing take on stories that I have seen beaten into the ground over my lifetime. Fables takes these iconic characters that represent goodness and virtue, and turn them into flawed people just like the rest of us. In Fables these familiar characters have "super powers" and unique skillsets that allow them to kickass and take names, and there are two totally mysterious worlds that are unbeknowst to "normal" people where the "Fables" reside. It plays off of the "girliness" of princesses and mythical creatures, except with dark undertones and a storyline that has never been explored before.

Now, go out there and woo some ladies with your impeccable, thoughtful taste in comics.


Molly McIsaac points her camera at everything, rides unicorns, and enjoys fictional characters with green hair. You can stalk her to your heart's content on Twitter, where she talks about her various misadventures.


  1. To date, True Story Swear to God is the only comic I’ve ever gotten my girlfriend to read.

  2. Believe it or not, I’ve gotten a few women into Jonah Hex.

    There’s something about Jonah Hex.

  3. Stumptown.

  4. I wandered into a comic book store when I was 17, and the clerk zoomed over to harvest the noob girl by showing me the first trade of Preacher.  I flipped it open, happened to see the bit with Tulip shooting the guy who made a lewd remark toward her in the face…I bought it and have been hooked ever since.

    But I am maybe not exactly like most girls.  😉

  5. My girlfriend loved Y: The Last Man. It was crack to her, as it is to everyone else.

  6. My wife finally started reading some comics recently with New York Four and Bone.  yay!  Thought she’d like Lost at Sea as well, but there were too many f-bombs for her taste, so didn’t want to keep reading.  Trying to get her to read Local next…

  7. I used to give all my girlfriends PREACHER and STRANGERS IN PARADISE. The one who eventually became my wife discovered DEMON (Etrigan) all on her own. 

    She and I would second Y, FABLES, SCOTT PILGRIM, RUNAWAYS, and would add the first 25 issues of the first Cassandra Cain BATGIRL series.

  8. ‘Blankets’ and Alison Blechdel’s ‘Fun Home’ totally won my fiancée over. She’s only so/so on Scott Pilgrim, but up next I’m giving her ‘I Kill Giants’ and ‘Y: The Last Man.’

  9. As much as I want to kill the "how do I get my girlfriend to read comics?" meme with fire (no offense to present company, it’s just, as Molly alludes, I see this a lot), this is a good list.  One thing I’d say about both ‘Blankets’ and ‘Scott Pilgrim’ is that they’re male-POV books about relationships, and before a guy gives them to a girl he is dating/wants to date, it would good idea for him to figure out how he feels about what those books say about relationships.  Because the girl might want to end up having a conversation about it; I know I would.  Same with ‘Strangers in Paradise.’  Basically, warning label, giving somebody these books might lead to TALKING, which is cool if that’s what you want, but if that’s what you want, you might not need the Internet to tell you what your girlfriend wants to read.

    Meanwhile, if it doesn’t comprehend your manliness or make you feel weird, if your girlfriend is in her mid-30s or younger, she might have read Baby-Sitters Club books at one point and be thrilled to know there is an awesome series of BSC tie-ins by Raina Telgemeier, who also did the memoir ‘Smile’ (which is a coming-of-age story, like ‘Blankets, and is also by/about a woman).   



  10. About two and a half years ago I handed my wife the first trades of Y: The Last Man and Fables.  She has been hooked ever since.

  11. Oh, also, so I can add a more highbrow recommendation, "All My Darling Daughters" by Fumi Yoshinaga.  Which is also a good gateway manga for guys, I think.  Beautiful work.

  12. My girlfriend loved Y: The Last Man too.  She read through it faster than I did.  She also enjoys Invincible, Walking Dead, and Ultimate Spider-Man.  Can’t get her into any 616 Marvel or anything DC at all though.  She hasn’t read any of these listed here, mainly because I haven’t read any of these listed here.  She is always very skeptical when i tell her she needs to read something, and usually just does it for me.  Then she finds out she really likes it and devours.

  13. Whilst my girlfriend is almost impossible to second guess, I know for a fact she will never read straight up superhero comics (in spite of eating up The Dark Knight and the Spider-man movies!). Fortunately there’s now enough different stuff out there that there’s something for everyone-as she’s a big fan of fey indie pop I felt fairly safe handing her Phonogram: The Singles Club for example. She also liked Fun Home, Persepolis and Alice in Suderland (she’s from Sunderland!). I know she’d love recent ASM too if she’d try it but alas it is not to be.

  14. All the things I thought would work on my wife didn’t (Y the Last Man, Strangers, True Story).  Yet she loved Preacher, Batman Adventures (!), and Will Eisner OGNs.  Which once again proves that I have no clue how women think.

  15. I kind of agree with Caroline about this meme, and it’s funny but when I step back and look at lists like this, it strikes me that the most glaring commonality between these books (and those mentioned in the comments) is that each of them has a clear set-up, is well-executed, stays contained to its own book/series, and is written in such a way that it doesn’t require tons of comic book universe knowledge to enjoy (Birds of Prey being the closest to an exception from this). 

    And really, gender aside, isn’t that what any new-to-comics reader would want?

  16. Runaways is a good one. I got my girlfriend started on comics with Suburban Glamour. I actually know a few girls who really liked that book. My girlfriend also loves The Walking Dead.

  17. I agree with Molly in that it’s not about findings comics that are for girls, but finding comics that you like, and then picking and chosing the ones you think she might like.

     I handed my GF Scott Pilgrim, and she absolutely loved it. She read through the first 3 volumes in one sitting. I haven’t tried Y: The Last man, probably because I haven’t read it myself. Runaways is also on my list of books that i need to get to.

     I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly is another book that she liked, and is a must read for all comics readers, guys and girls alike.



  18. Wow, I read (or have read) everything on that list except Birds of Prey, and even in that case I’ve seen the TV show. Makes me feel like a steriotypical girl in comics. I recently read Supermarket which I think would also be a good gateway comic for girls, and I think I saw someone suggest it, but I Kill Giants, seriously, it’s the comic I use everytime I’m trying to get someone into comics. Oh, also, there’s this graphic novel series called Flight which I think would be god as well.

  19. Wanna know what worked for my girlfriend? Ms. Marvel, Manhunter, Beasts of Burden, Marvel’s Oz titles, Spider-Woman.

  20. My wife’s first comic/OGN was Asterios Polyp. She seemed to like it.

  21. Wow! I, too stopped reading comics because I was so distracted by modeling. But now that I’ve taken a step back from my career in fashion/modeling/photography/having-a-very-serious-look-on-my-face, I read Stray Bullets.

  22. As a female, when I first started reading comics, I went the complete opposite way: the more macho, violent or action packed comics catch my attention!

  23. I am an expert on people who don’t read comics, no one I know is as crazy about comics as me except for maybe my LCS guy Franc but he quit 🙁 Where are you Franc? Anyways Preacher is the best comics to give someone who is not into the medium, and should be on this list fo sho!

  24. some really good suggestions here Molly, although I take issue at Birds of Prey.

    In my experience of trying to get my female friends and gf to read comics, it doesn’t matter how good the writing is, if a character has her arse hanging out, or boobs flobing about, then it gets binned immediately.

    Apart from that, I will be forwarding on all your suggestions forthwith.

  25. When I see this type of article (what comic should I show my daughter/girlfriend/wife) I usually see the same one’s: Stranges in Paradise, Bone, Preacher, and Runaways.

    Those are all good titles but think what they all have in common. They’re all character driven.  What are they into.  Did they like the Buffy or Firefly series, suggest the newer trades.  Walking Dead, if they like horror or suspense movies. Fables is good but it’s a hard sell as the first trade isn’t the best but the second one will get them hooked.  I would suggest instead Fables:1001 Nights of Snowfall.


     I would suggest to stay away from costume heroes. That said i know 3 women who read Ron Marz’s Witchblade series in trade.

     – * You’re mileage will vary * –

  26. This is not a criticism of your article, but I think the whole "what comics would a girl like" question is usually posed by clueless men.  Whenever someone asks me this at the store, I assume (usually correctly) that they’re an idiot.  Much like I seize up a little when a mom comes in and asks me what she should buy for her evelen year old son, and I ask "Well, what shows does he watch?  What does he like to read?" and she stares blankly at me, who has never met her child before, and says "Well, you would know better than me."

    The question is never "what would a girl like?"  "or what would a Haitian quadriplegic who was born left handed like", It’s "what would you recommend for someone who doesn’t read comics yet?"  Which your article does a great job of answering.

  27. Not this again. What does being female have to do with what comics you’ll like? Kill this topic with fire.

  28. Males and females are socialized.

    Socialization has a lot to do with everything even comic interests.

    So being female (or male) has a great deal to do with what comics you might like.

    Unless you are conscious of how you have been socialized and have taken steps to undo the socialization, then we can say that such a discussion is outdated.

    That hasn’t happened among the general masses yet.

  29. Scorpion, the problem with what you’re saying is that this article is not directed at girls who are asking what comics they should read.  It is directed at guys who want to tell their girlfriends what to read.  I think THAT is the problem people have with the meme.

  30. As it would happen, every book on here (except Blankets, which I’ve never read), i’ve been able to get my girlfriend hooked on. So, yeah, great list!

  31. If you’re going to recommend someone a comic a good place to start would be what you know about that person: what do they like to read? what movies do they like? what tv do they like? this should be the same regardless of whether they are male or female. if the only thing you know about your girlfriend is that she is female then you’re doing it wrong.

  32. There’s a severe lack of Brian Wood’s Local here.

  33. My second comment wasn’t directed at the article but at a couple comments that seemed to have a problem with the hypothetical premise.

    But I hear you.

  34. I don’t think we "seem" to have a problem with the hypothetical premise.  We want to kill the hypothetical premise (that it’s possible to make huge generalizations about what half of the human population likes to read, in the course of a conversation that makes little effort to include members of that population) with fire. 


  35. Good list of books in general.  A little off topic: We were discussing "girl and comics" at my store yesterday, and how abysmal Marvel has gotten with marketing to women.  Am I the only one who thinks titles like "Her-oes" is more than a little insulting?  I grew up with marvel, love the X-men, and have always found good strong female characters, but lately…well it’s getting sad.  Women don’t like being pandered to.  DC is doing a fantastic job, and I barely read DC before a year ago.  Batgirl, Batwoman (can’t wait for that to start), Birds of Prey…so many good books. 

    my $0.02 🙂

  36. ‘Her-oes’ has a dumb title, but the book isn’t at all insulting.  Are we seriously supposed to say, "I don’t want to read a book that focuses on female characters because that is pandering?"

  37. But sorry, Phoenixtorn is right, this is offtopic for this thread and I don’t want to derail.

  38. Then I would say you have a problem with the article because the article is based on the hypothetical premise along with a bit of "use comics" to seduce women.

    And if that is the case, I don’t think you should hold back.

    It is hard to be civil and call for the burning of ideas at the same time.

  39. I haven’t been holding back.  I already thought said what I thought.  I think Molly’s particular recommendations are very good.  I just wish there wasn’t such a prevalent mentality that causes people to think this is a necessary/useful question to answer.

  40. I want to see some fire!

    And that is where we differ. I’d argue that because of socialization it is a valid question.

    But I’d hand a woman (or a man) a couple issues of Jonah Hex before I’d hand them almost anything else.

  41. And yet the comments in this thread show women who like Preacher, Batman Adventures, Y: The Last man, and… THE DEMON?

    Not quite sure where Etrigan the Demon fits into "socialization." 

  42. When you start making comics recommendations based on gender assumptions you’re more likely to insult someone than help them. I always base my suggestions on what I know about my friend’s interests and not on condescending gender stereotypes like some that are listed. Plenty of women like action/adventure/violence stuff and plenty of men like beautiful art, interesting stories and character development. Recommend comics like you would food, because its all about personal taste and not profiles. 

    Why is there such a NEED to force our interest in comics onto our relationships like creepy bible thumpers? If people are interested in getting into comics they will discover it for themselves like many of us originally did. What’s wrong with letting someone go to the book/comic store and look for things that are appealing to them?

  43. I wonder if there should be a companion article called “Gateway Comics For Guys Who Don’t read Comics.”

    But yeah, I always suggest comics based on a person’s taste rather than gender. Pretty much for the same reason that I don’t just recommend Julia Roberts movies to every female I know. I think that’s just common sense.

  44. A tragic love figure who uses rhyme to communicate . . .

    Socialization fits into everything.

    The women on this site (who read the books you mentioned) defy the general trends of female socialization. That’s probably why they are on a comic book website talking comics.

    There are millions of other women who have been socialized into thinking that comics are a male hobby, especially superhero comics.

    It starts early (I’d argue as early as infancy) when parents start socializing their children to play with "boy toys" or "girl toys." I see it all the time.

  45. This socialization thing of which you speak — does this also explain why some men have the persistent need to prove that they understand issues relating to women better than women do?

  46. Perhaps, especially if you believe that women and men use different styles of argumentation. I personally don’t put much weight in masculine/feminine language beliefs. Or maybe it is just an idea I want to light on fire . . .

    Gendercentric perspectives also trap people in the fallacious belief that only someone of that gender can be an expert on how that gender operates.

    I don’t believe that there is much of a difference between men and women. And the little bit of difference there is is extremely slight.

  47. Sorry. I don’t want to seem hypocritical.

    I should have said that the only differences between men and women are due to socialization and not innate biology.

  48. You have GOT to be kidding me.

    Okay, done here!

  49. I’m sorry you are done.

    You could just trust me for a moment and follow my logic and unlearn.

    Answer me a simple question.

    What makes a woman a woman?

  50. What makes a woman a woman? Were you absent that day at school for that special class?

  51. No, wait, I have your answer, Scorpion. Do a Google Image search for "Fantomax", and you will find exactly the answer you are looking for.

  52. If we’re doing girls vs. boys I want someone more masculine representing the guys. Like Conor.

    In a completely not gay way. Or gay if you swing that way. 

  53. It is hard to see the truth when from the day you are born you are socialized into the matrix of gender roles.

    Factor in homophobia and you have a wall of fear that will prevent from unlearning the bullshit you were taught.

  54. Is this wall of fear a construct Sinestro built? He hates women and is probably homophobic too.

  55. Whoa, I just got my period today so I’m going to just walk quietly away from this thread… 

  56. What’s being implying is that girls are indoctrinated to like girl stuff, and boys to like boy stuff. While it is true that girls are given the pink stuff at birth and during their childhood, that’s not the indoctrination that you are implying. If what you’re saying is going on, then that would mean that parents don’t only give them the girly stuff, but that they reprimand the girls if they like what they’re not supposed to and actively force the girly things upon them. That’s where your argument falls apart. That just does not regularly happen in our society. Girls can cast off the girly stuff or embrace it, and the same with boys. It’s called "having personal taste". No "socialization", as you call it.  

  57. It goes beyond the pink and blue. It is in how we talk, interact, play, praise, teach boys and girls.

    It is in how much and what we tolerate from boys and girls.

    What we deem appropriate for the genders as well as a hyper concern over their presexuality centered on a fear of homosexuality.

    Socialization does not end with the ability to assert preference. It is with you til the end.

    The Matrix (reinforced with Sinestro constructs)

  58. I actually know quite a few girls that are into super-hero books big time. The Flash, Booster Gold, Batgirl, Red Robin, Justice League and Birds of Prey. The thing I always find funny is they are never upset by the things people say they should be, the sexy costumes are fine, they like the way the characters are portrayed. They dig um.

  59. My wife likes the Emily the Strange comics & the Tick.