April 12, 2012

Durham County Library NextReads Newsletter!

I'm happy to announce that I have begun writing a monthly comics newsletter featuring new releases and old favorites for Durham County Library! It's a "NextReads" newsletter, which is a collaboration between library staff and NoveList, a reader's advisory service that does this kind of thing for libraries across the country. Most NextReads newsletters are initially generated by the folks at NoveList with and then enhanced by library staff, but I'm doing mine from scratch, so you can send your complaints straight to me! Every month will include a number of new titles as well as a themed list of some sort; starting next month I'll feature a title that I (or some unsuspecting cohort of mine) would recommend for someone who's new to the comics scene.

Sign up for this and other Durham County Library NextReads newsletters by visiting our Reader's Corner page and clicking on the NextReads rectangle. And enjoy!

Recommendations for April, 2012:

New @ Durham County Library
Petrograd by Philip Gellat and Tyler Crook
Cleveland by Harvey Pekar and Joseph Remnant
A Game of Thrones adaptation by Daniel Abraham and Tommy Patterson
I, Vampire! by Mark J. Dematteis and Thomas Sutton

Nate Powell, Guest at Comics Fest 2012!
The Silence of Our Friends
Any Empire
Swallow Me Whole

Eisner Award Winners
Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Batman: Year 100 by Paul Pope

April 2, 2012

New Favorite: SuperMutant Magic Academy

I have been aware of Jillian Tamaki only since reading Skim, and I sure am glad that I investigated her further! Skim, written by her cousin Mariko Tamaki, is a beautiful and complex book about the ambiguities of adolescent identity and relationship (and a work I intend to discuss further at another date), but that's not all she's got up her sleeve. Among many other projects, Jillian Tamaki also regularly puts out a webcomic with the awesome title of SuperMutant Magic Academy, and it's my new favorite.

An early strip featuring big heads and magic beans.1

The strip follows a group of students in a school that's sort of a mix of Hogwarts and Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. It could be read either as (a) a story about comically angsty teenagers made more fun by giving them supernatural powers, or (b) a story about magicians and mutants made more fun by giving them comical teen angst; either works for me.  Although it's mostly humorous in a way that reminds me of another favorite, Kate Beaton's Hark! A Vagrant, it's also touching and even sad at times.

(As yet) unrequited love3.

It's also a nifty chance to see an artist experimenting with style and technique: early strips have a much more "brushy" quality to them, such as in the "big heads" strip from earlier, while some, like the "lazy goose" strip above, make use of more solid line to create characters. Color and shading are also added in on occasion by good use of Photoshop (I assume), and even the lettering changes through time. Reading a serial work like this is quite an enjoyable way of witnessing an artist change through time, and I say this as someone who is psyching himself into creating comics and is always on the lookout for inspirational material. Jackpot!

Self-serving reasons aside, this is a great comic, and I'm already looking forward to the next strip.

Durham County Library patrons may find Skim among the Young Adult Graphic Novel shelves under F TAMAKI, or they can place a hold on it and her other works here. If SuperMutant Magic Academy ever makes its way to a collected edition, I will be sure to lobby for the library to purchase it! Jillian Tamaki's portfolio, with links to her publications and sketchblog, is located at jilliantamaki.com.

UPDATE: The Comics Journal likes it too! And so does Io9!

Top image: http://mutantmagic.com/post/17556939831/logo-no-go, © Jillian Tamaki
1. Image source: http://mutantmagic.com/post/2325132475/jake-williams, © Jillian Tamaki
2. Image source: http://mutantmagic.com/post/11383329257/get-up, © Jillian Tamaki