Graphic novels are a great way to read about people with disabilities. The images work with the text to engage readers and add an additional level of representation. Seeing someone using a wheelchair or sign language is a level of representation that is often lacking in media. This list is some of the great graphic novels about people with disabilities.
- Perfect World by Rie Aruga A company get-together reunites 26-year-old Tsugumi with her high school crush, Itsuki. In the years they’ve been apart, Itsuki has realized his dream of becoming an architect–but along the way, he’s also suffered a spinal cord injury that’s left him in a wheelchair. Seeing Itsuki again rekindles Tsugumi’s feelings for him. It also forces her to confront her own hidden prejudices. Itsuki’s disability seems like an intimidating obstacle at first, but soon, Tsugumi discovers that her world feels imperfect without him.
- Mis(h)adra by Iasmin Omar Ata College student Isaac struggles to manage his epilepsy and his day-to-day life. His medication does not seem to work, the doctors won’t listen, the schoolwork keeps piling up, his family is in denial about his condition, and his social life falls apart as he feels isolated by his illness. Even with an unexpected new friend by his side, so much is up against him that Isaac is starting to think his epilepsy might be unbeatable.
- Daredevil by Mark Waid Daredevil is a superhero who became blind in the accident that gave him superpowers. He develops enhanced senses and echolocation. In his civilian identity he is a prominent lawyer. From the beginning writers have been concerned how the exaggeration of enhanced senses would play into stereotypes about blind people. The run by Mark Waid has received generally positive reviews and I recommend it for people new to this character.
- Parenthesis by Élodie Durand. Judith is barely out of her teens when a tumor begins pressing on her brain, ushering in a new world of seizures, memory gaps, and loss of self. Suddenly, the sentence of her normal life has been interrupted by the opening of a parenthesis that may never close. Based on the real experiences of cartoonist Élodie Durand,
- Hawkeye. The saga of Barton and Bishop by Matt Fraction Hawkeye, also known as Clint Barton, had severe hearing loss until 2001 when it was healed. When Matt Fraction started writing Hawkeye in 2012, he had him lose most of his hearing during childhood. Hawkeye eventually becomes fully deaf. Fraction brought back Barton’s hearing loss because of the importance of representation of deaf and hard of hearing people in comics. Fraction wrote an issue entirely in ASL. Fraction’s run writing Hawkeye is probably the most nuanced take on Hawkeye’s life as a person with hearing loss.
- Real by Takehiko Inoue A motorcycle accident, bone cancer, a speeding truck crashing into a boy on a stolen bicycle–tragic, life-changing events turn the worlds of three young men upside-down. These three very different personalities have only one thing in common–their passion for basketball.
- The Oracle Code by Marieke Nijkamp After a gunshot leaves her paralyzed, Barbara Gordon enters the Arkham Center for Independence, where Gotham’s teens undergo physical and mental rehabilitation. Now using a wheelchair, Barbara must adapt to a new normal, but she cannot shake the feeling that something is dangerously amiss.
- A Silent Voice by Yoshitoki Oima Shoya is a bully. When Shoko, a girl who can’t hear, enters his elementary school class, she becomes their favorite target, and Shoya and his friends goad each other into devising new tortures for her. But the children’s cruelty goes too far. Shoko is forced to leave the school, and Shoya ends up shouldering all the blame. Six years later, the two meet again. Can Shoya make up for his past mistakes, or is it too late?
- Run On Your New Legs by Wataru Midori Shouta Kikuzato’s hopes of starting on his school’s prestigious soccer team are derailed when a terrible incident costs him his leg. Now in his first year of high school (again), Kikuzato has resigned himself to never reaching his athletic dreams. But when Chidori, a passing prosthetist, notices Kikuzato’s artificial limb– and speed–as he races through the train station, the specialist proposes a partnership: Chidori will build Kikuzato a brand-new leg designed solely for speed. All Kikuzato has to do is run!
- Dodge City by John Trujillo, Cara McGee, Brittany Peer, Gonçalo Lopes Dodge City is a YA sports comedy about making sense of a chaotic world and growing up against the insane backdrop of competitive dodgeball, told through the eyes of oddball Tomás and his teammates. Life comes at you fast, but dodgeballs come way faster! Tomás is a teenage misfit, but when he joins the Jazz Pandas dodgeball team, he’s thrown into a family of oddballs and outcasts who are willing to do whatever it takes to win the summer regional dodgeball championships. Through a season of highs, lows, and blows to the face, Tomás might finally find a place where he truly belongs, and the person inside himself he didn’t know he could be. Huck, one of the lead characters, is deaf. He communicates with a mix of ASL and writing on his phone.
- Superb. Life After the Fallout by David F. Walker After the Earth survived annihilation from an asteroid which was destroyed by a group of heroic astronauts, the resultant meteor shower turned Youngstown, Ohio, into a Level 5 impact zone. After a Columbine-like incident in which a superpowered teenager exploded and killed other youngsters, the Foresight Corporation took over Youngstown to find and regulate any other teenagers with emerging powers. Kayla Tate has returned to Youngstown because her parents are scientists for Foresight. Kayla has reunited with her childhood friend, Jonah Watkins, a young man with Down syndrome. Kayla and Jonah are learning about each other again, as a mysterious new superhuman named Cosmosis has become the Internet sensation as the hero of Youngstown. Kayla discovers that Cosmosis . . . is Jonah!
- Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town. One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home. Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery. Nova wears hearing aids.
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