BannerGraphic Novels, Tough Chicks celebrates the amazing female characters that abound in graphic novels. While many people still associate this particular form with a male readership, certain graphic novels empower women and combat feminine stereotypes through illustration and text. Tough chicks resist injustice, fight for their beliefs, and they don’t take flak from nobody. These women are capable of fighting their own battles, both literally and figuratively.

Today I’m showcasing a graphic novel that was recommended to me by the lovely Sarrie at The Biliophile’s Diary. She said it was hilarious and that it had some choice language. I said game on.

Rat Queens Vol 1Title: Rat Queens, Volume One: Sass and Sorcery

Author & Illustrator: Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch

Publisher: Image Comics

Publication Date: March 26, 2014

Who are the Rat Queens?

A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they’re in the business of killing all god’s creatures for profit.View Spoiler »

RAT QUEENS, VOL. 1: SASS AND SORCERY is a gift. It’s clever and funny and foul, and I love it forever. Given the nature of the graphic novel itself, this review contains some adult language. You have been forewarned.

I’m not sorry, it has to be said: the Rat Queens are bad bitches and I love them. Yes, some of them wear the ubiquitous sexy apparel so commonly found on women in graphic novels, but they’re not just eye candy. They are – GASP – intelligent and sassy ladies who have agency and embrace their sexuality. It’s okay, I needed a moment to process that too.

One of the best things about the artwork in Rat Queens Volume One is the fact that Roc Upchurch doesn’t shy away from portraying women of different shapes and sizes. Some are shorter, some are taller, and some are more voluptuous than your standard ladies in graphic novels. One of the Queens, Betty, is a smidgen, a magical race of teeny tiny badasses. She’s also a lesbian, which I was happy to see. I think that the representation of queer people in SFF is becoming stronger, but I often feel that men get more representation than women. If male dominated graphic novels are sausage fests, then Rat Queens is a boob fest and it is fabulous.

Rat Queens Vol 1. excerpt
Image: Roc Upchurch & Kurtis J. Wiebe

Another winning quality of Rat Queens is the sheer hilarity of the thing. In the above panel, we see Betty unloading the “food” and Violet being unimpressed with their provisions. This is a quest, people! We need more than drugs and candy! I definitely let loose some undignified snorts while I was reading this one.

All of the Rat Queens are very well developed; even in the first chapter I got a very strong sense of each woman’s personality. Their back stories were also very well done, proving that Kurtis J. Wiebe can pack a punch with very few words. My personal favourite of these bawdy ladies was Dee, the atheist cleric who somehow manages to wield divine magic despite her religious doubts. You can’t really blame her for questioning the whole flying squid thing though, can you? Dee also shares my love of books (yay!) and my social awkwardness at house parties (boo!).

Rat Queens Vol 1. excerpt 2
Image: Roc Upchurch & Kurtis J. Wiebe

Girl, I feel you.

The Rat Queens are tough chicks because they slay demons, they fight for what they believe in, and they always have each other’s backs. They also have seriously kick ass outfits, but that’s neither here nor there. Betty, Violet, Dee, and their ringleader Hannah are all strong in their own unique way. They’re fighters and they’re lovers (Hannah and Swayer – I SHIP IT!), but most of all they’re best friends. Graphic novels need more female friendships like these!

And in case all of my mature points didn’t sway you into picking up a copy, here is the final blow. If you’re like me and could always use some new ways to curse, then the Rat Queens are your girls. Some of their best swears include:

  • “Cheesedick”
  • “Unicorn doo”
  • “N’yrgoth’s ballsack” (N’yrgoth is a god who takes the form of a flying squid)
  • “F*cktarts”
  • And the always appropriate “Oh, poop”

What are you waiting for? Go forth and read Rat Queen’s if you haven’t already. You’re welcome.