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The Blog of Gene Luen Yang
Mark Waid is Amazing 
Back when I was in my post-adolescent, anti-establishment, pro-indie-comics phase, I used to argue that they should've stopped making superhero comics after Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. What's the point of scaling the mountain once the peak's been reached?

Now Mark Waid has made my younger self eat his own words with Irredeemable and Incorruptible. I'm collecting Irredeemable in trades and Incorruptible electronically through Comixology's Boom Studios App. (BTW, if you've got an iExpensiveDeviceOfSomeSort and haven't played with any of the Comixology comics-reading apps, you're missing out! I never thought reading on a screen could be so pleasurable.)

Both Irredeemable and Incorruptible are cape-wearing roller coaster rides with soul. Waid explores the nature of evil through a series of superpowered fistfights. Brilliant. This is a master of the genre at the top of his game.

Age-wise, I'd say this is appropriate for high school and up.




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Astroboy Volume 3 
I love love LOVE Japan's God of Manga Osamu Tezuka. I started reading his stuff as an adult and credit him for helping me get past my teenage anti-manga bias. (A friend and I used to argue American comics vs. Japanese comics, with me defending the good ol' U.S. of A.) His series Adolf is probably my all-time favorite, and Phoenix is a work of genius.

But, I must admit, some of his comics leave me cold. And that's to be expected, given that he is probably the most prolific cartoonist to ever cartoon on planet Earth. With literally hundreds of thousands of Tezuka pages in existence, SOMETHING'S bound to not work for any given reader.

Astroboy, arguably his most famous creation, happens to be one of those Tezuka comics that I can't get into. I think Astroboy's design is really cool (how can anyone not love a robot with machine guns that come out of his butt) and I tried so hard to like his comics... but I couldn't.

Except for Volume 3 of the Dark Horse Astroboy reprints, which I read last week!!! Mostly because it's three shades of awesome.

Volume 3 reprints the story "Greatest Robot On Earth" and it's as fun as comics get. Pluto, a giant robot with demon-like horns, tries to become the greatest robot on Earth by destroying the other top seven robots, one of whom is our hero Astroboy. What follows is sort of a robotic MMA tournament, with a discussion about the purpose of AI woven in for good measure. Supposedly, every kid in Japan knows this story. Manga master Naoki Urasawa has even retold it in his series Pluto.

If you're looking for a way to get into kid's manga, this might be your best bet.



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Smile! 


There are some amazing graphic novel memoirs out there -- I think nowadays it's the second most popular comics genre after superheroes -- but very few of them are appropriate for middle schoolers. Raina Telgemeier's Smile fills that gap brilliantly.

In her preteen years, Raina had a painful accident that robbed her of her two front teeth. This full-color, beautifully illustrated graphic novel details all the drama that followed, both inside and outside the dentist's office.

Raina's got a lovely, consistent style that I've always admired (and been a little jealous of)...bits of Lynn Johnston mixed in with a charm that's all her own. If your childhood best friend were a cartooning style, she would look like a line from Raina's pen.

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The Genius of Shiga 
Last month, Bay Area comics genius Jason Shiga unleashed his masterpiece:



If you want to see the sort of crazy formalist oomph-itude the comics medium is capable of, you need to go buy this book now. It will pop your mind grapes. Seriously.

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