SuperMutant Magic Academy (2010)

Synopsis

New York Times and New Yorker illustrator Jillian Tamaki is best known for co-creating the award-winning young adult graphic novels Skim and This One Summer–moody and atmospheric bestsellers. SuperMutant Magic Academy, which Jillian has been serializing online for the past four years, paints a teenage world filled with just as much ennui and uncertainty, but also with a sharp dose of humor and irreverence. Jillian deftly plays superhero and high school Hollywood tropes against what adolescence is really like: the SuperMutant Magic Academy is a prep-school for mutants and witches but their paranormal abilities take a back seat to everyday teen concerns.

Science experiments go awry, bake sales are upstaged, and the new kid at school is a cat who will determine the course of human destiny. In one strip, lizard-headed Trixie frets about her nonexistent modeling career; in another, the immortal Everlasting Boy tries to escape this mortal coil to no avail. Throughout it all, closeted Marsha obsesses about her unrequited crush, the cat-eared Wendy.

From: Drawn & Quarterly

Notes on This Title

Some strips were published online before being collected in print by Drawn & Quarterly. This title contains profanity and adult themes, and is recommended for readers 15+.

Awards

2013 Ignatz Award for Outstanding Online Comic 2014 Ignatz Award for Outstanding Online Comic 2015 Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Awards Shortlist — Favorite Graphic Novel/Book 2015 Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Awards Shortlist — Favorite Queer Character (Marsha) 2015 Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Awards Shortlist — Favorite Overall Comic"

Reviews

Starred review: "Bestselling Tamaki (Skim, This One Summer) returns with an offbeat coming-of-age graphic novel about mutant teenagers at a school that teaches magic alongside other, more prosaic, school subjects. Showing its origins as an infrequently updated webcomic, the book opens with one-page vignettes, which are choppy and abrupt. But as the comic progresses the characters become clearer, the vignettes get longer and more developed, and the book becomes an often painfully blunt look at the insecurities and cruelties universal to teens—even flying teens. The central story focuses around Marsha, a tomboyish, frumpy broom-flyer, and Wendy, her beautiful best friend who can transform into a fox. Marsha’s very real love for Wendy drives the text, but other students have their own agonies, which they keep hidden in plain sight. The humor is sometimes slapstick, but more often it offers ultra-dry observations on modern disengagement. Tamaki is playful and loose with her art, unafraid to be experimental as she draws us into a world where true feelings are the greatest danger." (Source: Publishers Weekly) "There was a time when full-page comic strips were the dominant form of American sequential art, but they’ve been in steep decline for decades. Thankfully, we have the brilliant mind and pen of Jillian Tamaki to revive it to awe-inspiring effect. SuperMutant Magic Academy is a series of strips about a school that’s part Hogwarts and part Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, but nothing about it feels like stale parody. The lockstep rhythm of charming setups and surreal punch lines aggregates into a lengthy, funny work about growth and confusion." (Source: Vulture)

Interviews

The Comics Journal: "SuperMutant Children: An Interview with Jillian Tamaki"

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