David Redl
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Welcome to the weird mind of David Redl, capable computer scientist, sometimes ScrumMaster, and aspiring author.

I am passionate about stories and started this blog to share my experiences with the written word as a reader and, hopefully someday, an author.

My family and I are blessed to live and work on Treaty 7 land in Alberta, Canada.

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Unleash Your Inner SuperMutant

Exploring Jillian Tamaki's Graphic Novel Magic

Jillian Tamaki book review graphic novel Canadian creators LGBT

2023-07-16 - David Redl

Imagine a school where being different is the norm, where superpowers, magic, and teenage angst collide. Welcome to the world of SuperMutant Magic Academy. Creator Jillian Tamaki is best known for co-creating the award-winning and best-selling young adult graphic novels Skim and This One Summer with her cousin, Mariko Tamaki. She serialized SuperMutant Magic Academy on its own website between 2010 and 2014 before collecting all the existing strips, and some new ones, into a graphic novel released in 2015 by Drawn & Quarterly.

Most of the book features inter-connected but mostly stand-alone tales of the incredibly diverse cast, each with their unique quirks and abilities. This includes lizard-headed Trixie who dreams of having a modeling career, Marsha who has an unrequited crush for the cat-eared Wendy, and Everlasting Boy who can’t die, despite his best efforts. Despite their very unrealistic existence, Tamaki’s characters seem relatable and add depth to the overall tale. Despite many of the characters coming across as grumpy or nihilistic, their compelling nature and Tamaki’s unique brand of humour keeps the reader turning the page.

Tamaki’s art style shines as it ranges from playful to detailed and her sparing use of colour is effective in leading the reader's attention. Overall, the artwork is appealing and even evolves throughout the book, mirroring the characters’ growth.

SuperMutant Magic Academy is, at its core, a coming-of-age story and a very relatable one at that. The characters grapple with body acceptance, feminism, and feeling different from others. As with many teens in the real world, they deal with tough topics like self-harm and sexuality but author Tamaki addresses these with care and nuance. Contrasting with the supernatural, and often surreal, setting, the book provides valuable life lessons for young and old alike.

This book likely holds a special allure for the LGBTQ community where its themes of acceptance, identity, and individual will resonate the most and who can probably appreciate on a personal level a closeted character with a crush on their best friend.

I recommend that readers interested in graphic novels or coming-of-age stories dive into this captivating world created by Jillian Tamaki for entertainment and to find inspiration and insight along the way.


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