In case you didn't know, manga has exploded in popularity in the past few years. More and more people are getting into manga, and series are now reaching a worldwide audience many have never done otherwise. The effect is great, and it's only natural for people to want to make their own manga-inspired stories, such as Radiant, whose author is from France. More and more, people are using manga to build characters and stories that reflect their experiences. Enter Saturday AM!
Saturday AM is an initiative from publisher Quarto to bring a new wave of manga-inspired comics with a strong diversity of stories and the creators who tell them. There is a great focus on bringing tales featuring BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and LGBTQ+ characters to bookshelves. The creators are just as diverse as the stories they tell, with many taking inspiration from their life experiences to ground these fantastic, action-filled stories.
Right Stuf was given one chapter previews of different series. It is only a taste, but it got me excited for the books. Here are four that particularly caught my eye.
This graphic novels feels like it was ripped from the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump. Eli is a hothead Honduran teenager always picking fights to protect the innocent. Suddenly, he is captured by aliens and forced to join a battle-royale-style tournament. To fight, Eli uses a Titan, a giant monster with superpowers to fight other competitors' Titans. Can Eli build a relationship with his Titan to survive and claim the title of Titan King?
From the thick-headed hero to shouting special moves, this is the most shonen action-esque of the bunch. But it also knows what makes those things work and uses them to a strong effect. As a good action series should, the characters are clearly defined and brimming with personality. It also adds a nice spin to the Pokemon-like parts of the concept by giving the Titans the ability to talk and make their own decisions on the battlefield. It's a confident first chapter and I'm excited to see where the story goes.
In this West-African-inspired sci-fi tale, a virus called Leup has infected half the world's population. The battle between the infected and the immune becomes a brutal and bloody affair. Then a mysterious army called the Hakkinen emerges from the shadows to quell the war. The story follows Oumi and her friends as they join the Hakkinen to find a cure and end the war.
Oblivion Rouge was written by a Senegalese-American, and it is reflected in the all-African characters and setting. The concept instantly hooked me, and its African viewpoint gives a unique perspective by pulling ideas from the culture, such as Mother Earth, and making the themes in the story. I also loved the dynamic panel composition and use of color. You can clearly see who is infected with their violet color tumors, and green gives the Hakkinen exosuits (which look awesome, by the way) a menacing personality. While mostly black and white, the dashes of color give the visuals an extra punch. I'll definitely be picking this one up.
Ayumi lives in a lonely world. Her father passed away a few years ago, and her mother's work means she is never at the house. Then, as if by magic, Ayumi is transported to Aesztrea, a world of fantasy and wonder. But this land is in great peril, and it is up to Ayumi and her newfound friends to save it.
This graphic novel is a cool smorgasbord of different genres and tropes. The most obvious is isekai fantasy, but there are lots of shojo and martial arts in it as well. The title of the book, Saigami, references the people in Aesztrea who can control different world elements. So we get to see this mix of fantasy action alongside the martial arts. If "Yona of the Dawn but with the action of Avatar" sounds good to you, then you should pick this one up!
In a world where people don't believe in monsters, the newspaper Yellow Stringer is here to expose the truth. Headlining the book is the reporting duo of Columbia Journalism grad Noami and ex-cop Tony. This odd couple is thrust into the weirdest and most dangerous leads, including gangs being hunted down by a headless horseman. As the stories begin to hit too close to home, Naomi and Tony must get to the bottom of everything to save the day.
As a journalism grad, how could I not be pumped for this series? The idea is a fun combination of buddy-cop and the supernatural. The dialogue is snappy and the initial mystery is intriguing. Tony and Noami make a good duo and I want to see where they go from here. The one negative is that the chapter was too short! I need more, darn it!
If any of these interest you, they're currently up for pre-order, with some set to release this month. I'll be adding them to our bookshelves, and hopefully yours as well.