'X-Men: Misfits": The mutants go manga
• Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier will be at a book launch party at Rocketship comics on Friday at 7 p.m.
The X-Men has been comic books, toy lines, movies, animated series and video games. Now the storied Marvel Comics franchise is making the jump into shôjo (girl’s) manga.
New Yorkers Roman and Telgemeier are comic veterans. Roman has written “Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden” and his award-winning series “Teen Boat,” and his comic “Agnes Quill” has been optioned by Paramount Pictures. Telgemeier writes and illustrates the graphic novel adaptations of the classic series “The Baby-Sitters Club,” as well as her Web comic "Smile."
With “X-Men: Misfits,” the duo has re-imagined the Marvel mutants.
“We got to start from scratch and make the story completely accessible to new readers,” they said. “But we also put in a lot of nods to the past that longtime fans will hopefully get a kick out of.”
amNewYork did an e-mail interview with Roman and Telgemeier about “X-Men: Misfits.”
How are the X-Men in Misfits different/similar to the mutants we're all familiar with from the Marvel comics?
The series re-imagines the characters as teenagers (and teachers) at a private school for mutants. Being a teenager is awkward enough, and being a mutant teen is twice as hard — so, many of them aren’t exactly ready to come “out of the closet.” When our story begins, Kitty Pryde is actually the first girl in a long while to enroll at Xavier’s Academy. Even amongst fellow mutants, she stands out from the crowd. And the boys are a lot prettier than longtime X-fans might be accustomed to.
Shojo is girl manga. Is this “X-Men” for girls?
The social themes and diverse characters of the “X-Men” series have always appealed to girls. But “X-Men: Misfits” puts teenage Kitty Pryde front and center: readers are introduced to the world of the X-Men through her unique perspective, and there’s a lot more emphasis on which of the many cute boys she might hook up with.
How did you incorporate New York City into the book?
Since Xavier’s Academy is located in upstate New York, and is a safe haven for mutants, we had to get them into the real world at some point. The climax of the story is a class trip to Manhattan, where they visit the Met, ride the subway, and come face to face with anti-mutant rights protesters in Union Square.
Does working in the manga format impact your storytelling as opposed to your other comic works?
Manga has an amazing ability to mix comedy into even the most serious of scenes. One minute, a character is rendered with intricate detail to appear tall and handsome, and the next they’re shrunk down to “chibi” size, with stubs for limbs and the most ridiculous facial expressions. It really allows you to run a complete spectrum of emotions in a small amount of space.
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