WWACommendations: Spy x Family, Junji Ito’s Uzumaki, A Girl Called Echo, and More

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What comics have you been reading lately? This year has been painful and difficult in many ways, so I’m glad to hear many friends have found comfort in discovering new comics. Every month, WWAC contributors share the comics we’re especially enjoying. Let us know on Twitter what comics you’re enjoying lately!

Melissa Brinks: Junji Ito has a real gift for taking things that sound kind of silly as a horror premise and turning them into the absolute scariest thing you ever seen in your life. In Uzumaki, it’s spirals. In an isolated village, one person develops a fixation with the shape, eventually wrecking his own body to mirror their beauty. From there, the obsession becomes like a slow, destructive whirlpool at the town’s center, dragging everybody in as they turn on one another, shapeshift their bodies, and ultimately rip their homes apart as the spiral madness takes hold. It doesn’t sound scary, but Junji Ito is a master — the placid human expressions alongside illustrations of grisly body horror make me feel a little ill just thinking about them. That’s as high a recommendation as I can possibly offer; I’m still thinking about it weeks after reading, especially every time I see a snail.

Melissa: It’s been a while since I read something so lovely and immersive that I wished I could live in it. Maybe it’s the third month without seeing a friend in person talking, but escaping to Kamome Shirahama’s Witch Hat Atelier sounds like a dream right now. This is, full-stop, one of the most beautiful manga I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading — her artwork is incredible, the perfect mixture of light linework with heavy blacks where appropriate. The story follows Coco, a young girl who loves magic and accidentally finds herself in training to be a witch after turning her mother to stone with an amateur spell. If there is a Diana Wynne Jones-sized hole in your heart, let Kamome Shirahama fill it with this story of friendship and magic and a mysterious world ripe for exploring.

Louis Skye: I second Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama as a recommendation. I haven’t read much manga and didn’t know where to start. So many WWACers recommended this series to me and I’m so glad I got around to reading it. What a gorgeous read! The art is beautiful and the world-building is extraordinarily well-detailed. You don’t just learn about the magic in the world, you’re given the techniques and the concepts that make the magic possible. The characters are so relatable and though there’s plenty of suspense and intrigue, there are moments where you can just enjoy living inside a new world. If you love fantasy comics, this is the one for you.

Masha Zhdanova: I’ve never read a first chapter that made me want to find out what happened next more than the debut of Time Paradox Ghost Writer. Time Paradox Ghost Writer is a new manga on the Shonen Jump app by Kenji Ichima and Tsunehiro Date. There’s only three chapters out so far, but it’s absolutely wild: an aspiring mangaka named Teppei struggling to get serialized gets a lucky break when his microwave starts spitting out copies of Shonen Jump from ten years in the future. Thinking this is just a dream, Teppei copies the first chapter of one of the comics he sees, and the editors love it! He gets serialized and everything seems to be going his way… Except it wasn’t a dream and the original creator of the comic he plagiarized from the future finds out, and she doesn’t look happy. I’m looking forward to how this story unfolds.

Wendy Browne: For July, my Ladies Comic Book Club typically picks something Canada-focused to celebrate Canada Day on July 1st. This year we are focusing on Indigenous graphic novels. Our main choice is A Girl Called Echo Volume 1: The Pemmican Wars, but I picked up a few other books from Highwater Press as well, including This Place: 150 Years Retold, the second volume of A Girl Called Echo, and Surviving the City.

Written by Katherena Vermette, the first volume of A Girl Called Echo introduces us to Echo Desjardins, a 13 year-old Métis girl who is struggling to adjust to a new school and a new life. The illustrations and colours by Scott B. Henderson and Donovan Yaciuk respectively paint a stark image of Echo’s loneliness as she goes through the motions of her days. The sense of isolation and the pain she feels is powerfully expressed, even through something as seemingly simple as the playlist that helps her get through each day. When she listens to the playlist as her teachers share history lessons, Echo falls into another time and place where she discovers some of her history as a Métis. A Girl Called Echo is a heartbreaking story, not only because of the history it tells and the loneliness it portrays, but because these are not stories I learned in school as a Canadian child because too much history has been lost or erased or altered. We need so many more stories like this, now more than ever.

Paulina Przystupa: I am so happy Wendy suggested A Girl Called Echo. I read that about a year ago and it is a great comic. Specifically, I second Wendy’s affirmation that we need more stories like it because too few settlers in North America know about the Métis. Beyond that, a lot of us have been reading manga this month and I am no exception. I bought the Kodansha Humble Bundle because it contained another josei recommendation from Carrie McClain‘s awesome list, Princess Jellyfish, and more volumes of Descending Stories, which I had bought randomly during a previous digital sale and really loved. I just finished the first volume of Princess Jellyfish and I can’t wait to read more. It’s honest and absurd with scenes that remind me of fun but very embarrassing moments in my life. I love Higashimura’s honesty about exploring her own obsessions as a teen and the way that she translates exploring that time into her main character’s struggles.

Draven Katayama: I’ve been reading Spy x Family by Tatsuya Endo, translated by Casey Loe and lettering by Rina Mapa. I first heard about it because of a Polygon article titled “Expert criminals must pretend to be a normal family in one of the year’s best comics.” Spy x Family introduces us to a spy codenamed Twilight who gains intel on rival government officials. The setting is a Cold War-esque era with two fictional bordering countries similar to East and West Germany. For his next mission to succeed, Twilight has one week to marry and have a child — or at least appear to be married and have a child. Twilight goes to an orphanage and adopts a girl named Anya, who’s a telepath but isn’t about to tell Twilight that fact. Meanwhile, we meet Yor, a quiet office worker who’s secretly an assassin codenamed Thorn Princess. Yor needs a fake boyfriend to bring to a party with coworkers. Through a chance meeting and Anya’s sneaky intervention, Yor and Twilight, who now goes by the name Loid Forger, eventually decide to marry for convenience. Neither knows the other is a spy or assassin, but Anya does. This wild premise makes for a delightful story, with constant comedy provided by Anya reacting after reading her new parents’ thoughts. The art flows with energy through clean lines and emotive expressions. It’s fun to see how Loid, Yor, and Anya bond like a real family and feel genuine affection for each other while keeping up their covers. If you want a twist on domestic stories with cute romance and spy intrigue mixed together, Spy x Family is the perfect read.

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Draven Katayama

Draven Katayama

Writer at Sidequest and WWAC; past executive editor of Kollaboration and writer at Newsarama and Comicosity. I'm a huge fan of Life is Strange, The Last of Us, TWICE, Blackpink, and ITZY. My MyDramaList: https://mydramalist.com/profile/loudlysilent Ko-fi: https://ko-fi.com/loudlysilent Tell me about the fandoms you love! @loudlysilent