Comics Herstory: Ariel Schrag

awkwarddefinition_medAriel Schrag broke into comics at an incredibly young age with the publication of her book, Awkward. The comic detailed her freshman year of high school, and Schrag sold copies of the comic to friends and family before it was published as a graphic novel. In the following years, Schrag would make a comic after each year of high school. Awkward was reprinted by Simon & Schuster with Definition, Schrag’s sophomore year comic, as Awkward and Definition. These were followed by Potential and Likewise.

The books deal with the usual high school challenges, but are also laden with a more existential anxiety as Schrag chronicles her crushes, love of science, and concert-going. Each story is an honest account of her life, chronicling the year with humor. Because it was written near the same time the events happened, this series is a different and unique sort of autobiographical comic. Many graphic memoirs are a retelling of youth from an adult’s perspective, and while writing at the time of living the memoir, so to speak, doesn’t guarantee a completely honest narrative, it is an important and different narrative.

She has been selected and nominated for a number of awards, including the American Library Association Rainbow List, an Eisner Award, a Lambda Literary Award, and New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age.

One of the central themes is also Schrag’s sexuality, as she came out as bisexual and then as a lesbian. As an adult Schrag wrote for seasons of The L Word and How to Make it in America. She still writes comics, both webcomics and print and, according to her website, is working on an anthology featuring her own work that will be a mix of old and new comics. She has written comics for a number of publications, including the New York Times. Her first novel, Adam, debuted in 2014. Potential has also been optioned for film and will be produced by Killer Films (which also produced Carol). Schrag has written the screenplay, and as a versatile writer, she is one to watch.