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10 wonderfully witchy YA comics to read this fall
One of the greatest things about witches is that they can feel at home in just about any kind of story. From all-out horror to all-ages romps, witches are a timeless classic.
Nowhere is that more obvious than in the world of YA comics, where witches have all but completely shed their shroud of villainy to become icons for readers of all ages. Campy fun, thoughtful introspection, and wild adventures abound in witch stories, and these are some of our favorites.
Witchlight - writing and art by Jessi Zabarsky
Sanja and Lelek are from different worlds. Sanja is confined to life toiling for the benefit of her father and brothers, while Lelek has been stripped of much of her magical power and left to fend for herself in the woods. The two have a rocky start, but Sanja recognizes how scared Lelek is and offers to help her. Slowly, the two of them build a bond of trust that turns into friendship and something more.
Witchlight is a heartwarming study of forgiveness, found family, and self-acceptance that is bound to win you over. Watching Lelek and Sanja slowly lower their defenses and learn to rely on each other can offer a valuable lesson in trust for audiences of all ages, but the hard knocks that get them to that point are the true draw of the comic.
Mooncakes - writing by Suzanne Walker, art by Wendy Xu
Nova Huang comes from a powerful line of witches. She works in her grandmother’s magic bookstore and trains to become a great witch in her own time. When her crush, the genderqueer werewolf Tam, shows back up in her life, the two of them are almost immediately drawn into peril. After the shocking appearance of a demonic horse in the woods, Nova and Tam have to uncover the deeper mystery of where the horse came from, to begin with.
The story is great, but the true draw of this comic is the incredible chemistry among its major players. Nova’s love for her family and for Tam is incredible and true, and it gives this story its heart.
Seance Tea Party - writing and art by Reimena Yee
The protagonist of this story, Lora, has a relatively normal preteen life but feels increasingly left behind by her friend group — until one day she holds a seance and encounters a ghost named Alexa. Lora and Alexa become secret friends, and the two form a strong bond due to their mutual alienation. However, as time wears on, it becomes obvious that they’re both going to have to move on.
Seance Tea Party is surprisingly meaningful and makes a great case for letting go of the past and focusing on the people you’re with. The art is incredible, and the story is moving without ever pandering or falling into sentimentality. A touch of realism in all the fantasy is what gives Seance Tea Party its poignancy, but the fantastical elements are still a lot of fun. For anyone that ever had to say goodbye to a dear friend, this is the book for you.
Witches of Brooklyn - writing and art by Sophie Escabasse
Effie loses her mother and is sent to live with aunts that she doesn’t know anything about. She finds them weird and plans to run away immediately… that is, until she discovers their link to witchcraft. Changing course and deciding to stay and learn from her aunts instead, Effie navigates missing her mother, learning new things, and encounters with her favorite pop star while attempting to wield awesome new power. Through her journey, Effie makes mistakes, but her newfound family is there to catch her when she falls.
Witches of Brooklyn is funny, serious, and heartwarming all at once.
Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld - writing and art by Amy Reeder
First debuting in 1983, Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld is an often overlooked classic of teen witch adventure comics. Amy Wilson is pulled into the alternate reality world of Gemworld, where she just so happens to be the lost princess destined to engage in battle with threats to her new world. Gemworld is constantly in danger from any number of despots, and Amy takes on the responsibility of fighting for the good of the world while missing her family and desperately desiring to return to her own life.
Amethyst’s early adventures have aged surprisingly well, but there’s also a recent series by Amy Reeder that has been a lot of fun to read.
Baba Yaga's Assistant - writing by Marika McCoola, art by Emily Carroll
Masha’s mother dies, and her distant father leaves her to be cared for by her grandmother, who tells her stories of the amazing and terrifying Baba Yaga. When her grandmother passes away as well, Masha no longer feels at home and has no choice but to strike out on her own. She answers an ad to become Baba Yaga’s assistant, and her life changes forever.
Modernizing old tales while recalling classic conventions, this is a must-read for anyone who has ever felt out of place in their own family and had a need to find a new way of life. Masha stumbles more than once, but her sense of values keeps her on the right path as she navigates Baba Yaga’s quirks.
The Witch Boy - writing and art by Molly Ostertag
Aster is turning 13, and that means that it's time for him to choose the animal that will allow him to take its shape as a shapeshifter. However, Aster is more interested in witchcraft, though he's forbidden from becoming a witch due to being a boy. He hides and sneaks in lessons in witchcraft only to discover that he isn't the first boy to seek out expertise in witchery.
There is a lot of gender parable in The Witch Boy and it has a lot of relevance on that front, but it's also a heartwarming story of finding your place in the world. Both a coming-of-age tale and a spooky witch story, The Witch Boy is a modern YA classic.
Little Witch Academia - created by Yoh Yoshinari
Though Little Witch Academia began as an anime series, the comics that came after the fact keep the spirit alive by giving us expanded stories around the main crew. Atsuko idolizes the witch known as Shiny Chariot and goes to attend Luna Nova Magical Academy in order to train to become an expert witch, just like her hero. She has a hard time acclimating to the Academy and things look bleak until she discovers Shiny Chariot's magical Shiny Rod. Though the outside world considers witchcraft to be old hat, Atsuko believes in fighting for hope, magic, and love, and her journeys are full of heartwarming revelations and comical pitfalls.
Supermutant Magic Academy - writing and art by Jillian Tamaki
We can't praise Jillian Tamaki's Supermutant Magic Academy enough. Much like Harry Potter or Little Witch Academia, this series focused on a magical school and its struggling students, but with a feel all its own.
Dealing with complicated issues like underage drinking and queer crushes, this is a timeless book about learning to accept yourself and how to stand on your own two feet without shunning the larger group. Attempting to tame the chaos of their everyday existence while navigating larger existential threats, the cast is compelling and entertaining. Despite the whimsical backdrop, this series feels real and important and is sure to strike a chord with just about any reader.
Scary Godmother Omnibus - writing and art by Jill Thompson
Hannah Marie is tormented by her older cousin Jimmy and his friends, who tell her that monsters are coming to eat her. Only when her Scary Godmother appears does she realize that monsters are the last thing she has to fear in this world. Taking control and making friends with the things that scare her, Hannah Marie learns to face her fears.
Scary Godmother has been adapted to two animated films, but the comics are where it all started. The incredible art and the sheer sense of fun of Jill Thompson's stories created one of the best all-ages comics of the last century, and no bookshelf is complete without the omnibus.