SUPER MUTANT MAGIC ACADEMY
Jillian Tamaki (Writer and artist)
You know those long, aimless, vaguely philosophical conversations you have with your friends during lunch or after school? Where you contemplate your future, your present, your place in the world, and whether there is any real significance in any of it? You’re not unique. Every high school student has those conversations, even students at a bizarre high school for vaguely defined magic and superpowers. Super Mutant Magic Academy is a collection of vignettes, short stories and one shot comics set in a high school that could be any high school. Yes, there are cute lizard girls and an immortal boy drifting through existence with blank faced ennui, but those aspects of the characters are secondary to their quintessential teenager-ness.
Super Mutant Magic Academy is many things. It’s a bizarre, irreverent, absurdist comedy. It’s a parody of the literary tropes of school and fantasy stories. It’s a visually striking work of art, rendered in loose, sketchy lines that resemble the margin-doodles you can find in any students textbook. It’s a witty, incisive look at teen culture as it exists today. But most importantly, Super Mutant Magic Academy is a pitch perfect depiction of both teenage angst and teenage apathy, without passing judgement on either state of mind. In one comic, a character lies motionless on the ground. What’s wrong?
“I don’t know.”
THE WICKED + THE DIVINE
Keiron Gillen (Writer), Jamie McKelvie (Artist), Matt Wilson (Colourist)
Keiron Gillen, Matt Wilson and Jamie McKelvie are one of my favourite collaborative comic creator teams, and their current ongoing The Wicked + The Divine is possibly their greatest work together yet. Every 90 years, a Pantheon of twelve gods from various mythologies are reincarnated as young people. They live. They inspire. They are loved, hated, and without exception, within two years, they are all dead. The comic follows the Recurrence of 2014 through the eyes of Laura, a teenage fan, who finds herself embroiled in a murder mystery among the gods she idolizes. The twist is that the Pantheon of the 21st century embody the symbols of worship and adulation of the times… which of course means that here and now, they are pop idols. Part of the experience, outside of the luminous art and writing, is in recognising how each god echoes real world musicians — Lucifer resembles a 80s-era Bowie, Amaterasu is more than a little Florence Welch, and Baal is Kanye, with all the ego and OTT of the real thing.
Celebrity is fleeting, and the lives of most of the main characters have a definite expiry date, which gives the series a sense of real immediacy as it questions ideas of fame, music and the power and meaning of both. The cast is wonderfully diverse as well, and the multitudes of women, queer characters and PoC in the story all have dimension and personality without having to fit into some imaginary diversity checklist. This is a series in which the literal incarnation of the Devil admits that transphobia is not okay. WicDiv, as it’s fans affectionately call it, recently wrapped up its second story arc, with the series thus far collected in two trade Paperbacks. It’s a great time to start.
Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters (Writers), Brooke Allen (Artist)
It’s a sad theme in fiction that all women hate each other. All women are constantly in competition with each other, for whatever the plot demands. Women can’t support each other, or celebrate each others successes, they’re too busy despising each other. Sigh. Female friendships can be some of the most fantastic, enriching and supportive relationships there are, and it’s horrible how often they are misrepresented. FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS ARE GREAT. And Lumberjanes is a beautiful, hilarious, all ages testament to this, with the creedo ‘Friendship to the Max’, and a magnificent array of female friendships at the core of the comic.
Set at a summer girl scout (not THE Girl Scouts) camp, Lumberjanes is a paranormal adventure in the vein of Gravity Falls, with a core cast of five friends who set out to unravel the mysteries of the surrounding woods… and get their merit badges for puns, make friendship bracelets, and goof off. I’m a Kiwi born and bred, so I can’t speak for the summer camp experience, but I did attend an all girls school for five years, and the comic perfectly captures the camaraderie of girlhood and the friendships formed in adolescence. Lumberjanes also features several queer relationships, in both the main and supporting cast. The comic doesn’t talk down to it’s younger audience, and manages to deliver some simple, universal life lessons without ever being didactic or boring. This is a brilliant comic for young and old, and is a perfect entry point into comic reading.
I would go on, and I’d love to go on eternally, but I don’t want to keep you here. Go read some comics.
Tell me about comics you like! Comics, y’all. Comics.▼