Category Archives: Drawn and Quarterly

SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

Supermutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki Title: SuperMutant Magic Academy
Author: Jillian Tamaki
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
ISBN: 978-1770461987
Genre: Comics, Graphic Novel
Pages: 224
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I love graphic novels. The genre makes me smile all the time. Well, mostly all the time. There are times when I go all morose as well, but that’s only because of the plot and nothing more than that. So when I received a copy of Jillian Tamaki’s new graphic novel, “SuperMutant Magic Academy” by the publisher, I was overjoyed.

Supermutant Magic Academy - Image 1

What is the book about?

It is true to its title. It is about Mutants, who are in an academy, and of course who are magical. That being said, they are almost like any other teenager – bursting with puberty, adolescence making them think otherwise and going through the same old pangs of growing up and deciding whether to love or not and how does one then become popular.

Supermutant Magic Academy - Image 2

Why should you read this book?

There is humour in the book, loads of it and also sprinkled with a whole lot of irreverence and not to forget their paranormal abilities that are juxtaposed brilliantly against the everyday teen concerns. The world is but surely familiar and yet it is the abilities that come along in the book, that take you by surprise and sometimes shock.

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I cannot talk about individual characters because there are so many of them, but needless to say that you might just fall in love with each of them and their little quirks. It is a mash-up of Hogwarts and Gossip Girl (I know some of you might be cringing but that’s what it is and it is a delightful read at that).

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Tamaki’s illustrations are almost perfect and invite you to a world like none other. Her characterization is sharp and full of detailing, page after page and that is what also will appeal to the serious reader in some of you. Tamaki has a knack to understand the psyche of her characters and to bring each nuance to life through her illustrations and story-telling capacity. There are just right enough doses of angst, hopelessness and so much hope at times that you will wonder where that came from in the book.

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“SuperMutant Magic Academy” will take you through vignettes of every single character and their kinks – from Trixie, a dinosaur girl to Everlasting Boy who is immortal, to Wendy who has cat ears and also you will meet Marsha, the grumpy friend who carries a secret torch for Wendy and many more, equally weird and strange. The thing though is that you will fall in love with each and every one of them and hope that the book doesn’t end. I could not stop thinking about them long after I had finished the book and I am almost certain that I will go back to it. This is also the kind of book that can be enjoyed by anyone – from teenagers to the middle-aged readers. I wish there is a sequel in line for this one.

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SuperMutant Magic Academy

Earthling by Aisha Franz

Earthling by Aisha Franz Title: Earthling
Author: Aisha Franz
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
ISBN: 978-1770461666
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 208
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Off late, say in the last decade or so, there has been a spurt of graphic novelists and artists from all over the world. “Earthling” by Aisha Franz is not just another graphic novel. There is something about it, which speaks to you and which hits the nail right on the head of the problem of our society today: Alienation and Loneliness.

The graphic novel is also a coming-of-age story of two sisters. It is about their estranged mother. A father that is supposed to take them on a trip which none of the girls wants to go to. The mother dreams of what could have been had she not got pregnant early in her life. The older daughter wants to be accepted. The younger one is confused about life. All the three of them want is some semblance to a regular life and happiness. The setting is the suburbs – unknown places, a big industrial wasteland and vast fields with nothing to talk about. In all of this, each of these three characters has built a fantastical element to their stories. They find their solace and comfort there.

Franz’s setting itself is another character. The black and white illustrations also add that bleak element to the story. I think “Earthling” to me is more than just a story about coping with life. It is also to a very large extent about finding yourself midst all the noise and silences.

The book, in its graphic elements relays a lot – on the human condition, how we are and yet there is a glimmer of hope somewhere for these people to perhaps want something more and get it after all. I loved “Earthling” because it was for sure a different graphic novel and to some extent also reminded me of Daniel Clowe’s characters, all wandering and trying to find their way in the world.

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Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoet

Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoet Title: Beautiful Darkness
Author: Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoet
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
ISBN: 978-1770461291
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 96
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I had been waiting for the longest time to read, “Beautiful Darkness”. The minute I heard about it, I knew I would love it. It is a dark take on the fairy tale world. It is nothing like what you would expect and it is nothing like what you think it will be. It is a strange graphic novel. It is a graphic novel that shows you the way humans are, the way animals are and the way it really is. There is no happy ending. So you better be warned before you decide to read this one.

Beautiful Darkness - Image 1

“Beautiful Darkness” is about a strange kind. I am inclined to believe that it is a fairy-tale world and maybe that is what it is. It is an anti-fairy tale as the book suggests. It is the pixie land of Lord of the Flies. It is violent and head-snapping and decays at its best. The book is about Princess Aurora, her Prince, a fine setting to begin with and how all if it only starts getting bad to worse. The book begins with globs of blood, with the body of a girl – once alive, now dead and her flesh decaying (sort of depicting what is going to happen next in this strange land) and how she permanently rests there, and how the world around the body changes drastically.

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Vehlmann poses a lot of questions during the entire book. Who killed the girl? Why this world the way it is? Why is Aurora trying to help everyone, when everything around her is falling apart? Animals are trying to survive. Pixies are doing their bit. This tale is not for children. There is gore, a lot of it. There is darkness, which the creatures get used to. There is survival of the fittest and sometimes a whole lot of betrayal and shocks that come to fore.

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Vehlmann explores the dark side of humanity. He gets into the skin of it and exposes it, for all to see. The maggot eating, the haphazard cruelty, the cannibalism, and more are for the reader. Like I said, you were warned. At the same time, don’t forget to go through the lovely illustrations.

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Good-Bye by Yoshihiro Tatsumi

Good-Bye by Yoshihiro Tatsumi Title: Good-Bye
Author: Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
ISBN: 978-1897299371
Genre: Graphic Novel, Manga
Pages: 208
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Manga is an art that grows on you. It is also an art form that makes you appreciate the beauty of stillness and subtlety. So when there are graphic novels to be read, there is also Manga which I feel is quite different and a genre of its own than being classified under Graphic Novels. Tatsumi happened to me when I was browsing through Landmark, Bombay, about ten years ago with a very dear friend. That was another book. This time I spotted him at Blossom and could not have been more excited. I knew I had to buy it and I was not wrong about it at all.

“Good-Bye” is a collection of short stories told in Manga. Tatsumi is perhaps one writer that just brings out the best when it comes to Manga, or at least from all that I have read. Tatsumi in this collection portrays a Japanese society – during WWII, in the aftermath of the atomic bomb and post the war.

The stories are about trapped protagonists, who seem to have no choice at all. They are stuck in circumstances that are beyond their control and they have to make sense of the world around them. Right from “Hell” which is about post-Hiroshima attack to “Good-Bye” which is a story of a woman trying to survive after the war, by using her body – the stories are real and laced with pathos and sometimes tragic humour.

What struck me the most was how beautifully Tatsumi managed to bring out the emotions in the entire book. From anger to helplessness to pure love and longing, everything is meticulously laid out for the reader to savour and add in a bit of his or her angst as well. All in all, this book is meant to be relished, page by page, illustration by illustration.

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