Mothers in Comics

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers: A look at the various roles mothers have played in comics.

Many comics feature the role of family. Even if it isn’t a main central plot, family connections can drive a characters arc or background plot point. Whether it be in support, conflict, loss, or creating a new sort of family, character relationships play an important part in the emotional impact and relatability of the story to the readers. With Mother’s day here, let’s take a look at the role mothers play in comics. For this article, I will pick out several common roles mothers have played. These are not the only roles, and there’s hardly a mother character that fits into just one category.

- Warm supporter: If a character’s family isn’t super prominent in the story, she often takes the role of someone who the character falls back on. Though she might not fully understand what the character is going through, she’s the warm healer.

- Support/mentor: Probably playing a more central role or key role in a given section, these are the types that offer potentially crucial information related specifically to given conflicts of the story. In superhero comics, this also includes those who mentor, train, and prepare the character for experiences they’ve often also faced themselves.

- Peer: This category I’m using to describe stories that show a more casual relationship of mother to the character. This also works in the reverse as in stories where characters come to view a peer/friend as a motherly figure in their life. Either way, some books see both mom and child on the same story arc, learning together, growing together as equals instead of just one imparting knowledge to the other.

- Symbol: Lastly I wanted to point out that many comics use loss and memory as a key impacting/driving plot. Many of these stories include the character’s dilemma of not being able to talk with family anymore, living up to their expectations, or fulfilling their unfinished goals.

Again, this is a very generalized list and there is no set defining role any mother plays in a person’s story. The roles are also not limited to mothers and are often found represented by parents in general, grandparents, friends, etc. A character’s depiction and actions also vary by genre, from the real world, to superhero. All in all, in May we celebrate mothers both fictional and in our own lives!

Below are some personal recommendations which include mother and family-related stories and adventures.

Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama by Alison Bechdel

Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir by Robin Ha

SAGA, Vol.1 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

M.O.M.: Mother of Madness Vol.1, by Emilia Clarke, Marguerite Bennett, Leila Leiz, Jo Ratcliffe

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

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