Wednesday, April 17, 2013

COMICS! SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

Gemma and Frances
School wasn't very magical for me. Either in the Harry Potter sense or the 'This is the best time of my life!' sense. For some of the kids at SuperMutant Magic Academy I think the same can be said about the latter. They do get the Potter part, though, damn them!
Much like the previously featured artist Emily Carroll, I can't remember where exactly I discovered Jillian Tamaki's SuperMutant Magic Academy. It was most likely a link from one of the other comics I read online, but I do remember it being fairly early on in the run, and being entranced from the first strip I read.

SMMA usually punches me in the gut, occasionally in the face, and maybe once or twice below the belt. That's how good it is. Whether it's Marsha's undying and unrequited love for Wendy, Frances' quest for truth through art, or Everlasting Boy's cosmic (and otherwise)  adventures, Tamaki delivers simple truths and heartbreaking realities. 

I noted earlier that they get to live in a Harry Potteresque world, but their life is anything but earth-saving battles. As Lauren Davis noted in her review of SMMA for io9, "their concerns are largely mundane." Boys, girls, school, hanging out, reading books, playing games. In other words, they're just teenagers living drama-filled, complicated lives. A lot of drama.

Another thing SMMA has in spades: a whole mess of awesome fan art. And the occasional guest strip, such as the haunting "Ephemeros" from Matt Forsythe:

While it's hard for me to pinpoint a favorite in anything these days, as my love for comics, art, writing, etc. grows and I see the awesome in and throughout so many things, character-wise I do have a soft spot for Trevor (Everlasting Boy is pretty cool, too):

Trevor, being doing bad things

In some ways SMMA reminds me of Lev Grossman's novel The Magicians, which riffs on the Potter books with a heavy does of The Chronicles of Narnia mixed in, making something unique and magical all its own (it's late as I write this, puns are acceptable). Among other things, I see connections between the character Penny from Grossman's novel and my boy Trevor. Though Penny is a bit more extreme, and obnoxious. If you want to know how much more, I suggest you check out the book.

Speaking of books, Ms. Tamaki has recently said there will be a collection somewhere down the line, but first she has to finish a graphic novel she is working on with her cousin. She's promised bonus strips for that, and I'm sure it will be worth the wait. In the last year or so she's released a couple of mini-comics, each with its own extra content. I believe the first one is sold out, but the second one just debuted a couple of weeks back in time for this year's MoCCA Fest--where she was guest of honor--and I think you can still nab that one if you hurry.

And if you don't get one of them, or you're new to SMMA, just take a leisurely trip through the archives  of SuperMutant Magic Academy and enjoy. Here's a few to get you started, have fun:


SuperMutant Magic Academy is © Jillian Tamaki

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