Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

SuperMutant Magic Academy

Rate this book
Unrequited love, underage drinking, and teen angst rule at a high school for mutants and witches.

The New York Times and New Yorker illustrator Jillian Tamaki is best known for co-creating the award-winning young adult graphic novels Skim and This One Summer—moody and atmospheric bestsellers. SuperMutant Magic Academy, which she has been serializing online for the past four years, paints a teenaged world filled with just as much ennui and uncertainty, but also with a sharp dose of humor and irreverence. Tamaki deftly plays superhero and high-school Hollywood tropes against what adolescence is really like: The SuperMutant Magic Academy is a prep school for mutants and witches, but their paranormal abilities take a backseat to everyday teen concerns.

Science experiments go awry, bake sales are upstaged, and the new kid at school is a cat who will determine the course of human destiny. In one strip, lizard-headed Trixie frets about her nonexistent modeling career; in another, the immortal Everlasting Boy tries to escape this mortal coil to no avail. Throughout it all, closeted Marsha obsesses about her unrequited crush, the cat-eared Wendy. Whether the magic is mundane or miraculous, Tamaki’s jokes are precise and devastating.

SuperMutant Magic Academy has won two Ignatz Awards. This volume combines the most popular content from the webcomic with a selection of all-new, never-before-seen strips that conclude Tamaki’s account of life at the academy.

276 pages, Paperback

First published May 5, 2015

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Jillian Tamaki

38 books748 followers
Jillian Tamaki is a cartoonist and illustrator living in Toronto. A professional artist since 2003, she has worked for publications around the world and taught extensively in New York at the undergraduate and graduate level. She is the co-creator, with her cousin Mariko Tamaki, of Skim and This One Summer, the latter of which won a Caldecott Honor in 2015. She is the author of the graphic novels SuperMutant Magic Academy, originally a serialized webcomic, and Boundless, a collection of short comic stories for adults. Her first picture book, They Say Blue, was released in 2018.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
2,832 (37%)
4 stars
2,681 (35%)
3 stars
1,492 (19%)
2 stars
446 (5%)
1 star
168 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,129 reviews
Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.2k followers
August 10, 2015
A new favourite! What a flippin' hilarious read.

Told in a series of single page comics, this graphic novel explores the final few years of high school at a school for mutant teens. This gave Tamaki the opportunity for impressive larks - this book made me laugh out loud consistently. Some of the strips were so good that I had to take pictures and send them to friends. I think the fact that teenagers were supermutants was used extremely effectively, especially because 1) they were able to do normal things that teenagers do and show that teens EVERY WHERE act the same way, and 2) they were able to amplify and caricature teenagers by using their powers. This book also had some surprisingly powerfully sad and troubling comic strips that made me think and reflect.

On the illustrations I absolutely enjoyed them. The sparing use of colour was very effective, and overall the drawings were a lot of fun to look at.

Absolutely recommended to everyone. (Although do note that it has some mature content.)
Profile Image for Eilonwy.
814 reviews203 followers
January 10, 2019

I'm not sure how to rate this at all!

I grabbed this at the library thinking it was a graphic novel, and since I've loved Jillian Tamaki's illustrations in Half World and her cousin Mariko's graphic novels Skim and This One Summer, I was really excited to see what Jillian's work for herself would look like.

This turned out to be a series of mostly single-page comics which feature a few teenage kids from the title school: Adorable fox-girl Wendy; Asian nerd-girl Marsha; rebellious performance artist Frances; gorgeous blonde Gemma; cynical boy Cheddar; Everlasting Boy, and all their various unusual classmates. There's no particular plot until a long prom-and-graduation-centered sequence at the very end of the book. The comics make points about body acceptance, feminism, being gay, feeling different from everyone else, and make fun of general teen hypocrisy. Some of them are very funny; some of them I didn't get at all. All of them have a weird charm, though.

The artwork really varied. Some of the comics are very rough-looking while others are very polished and detailed, and I couldn't tell if that was a time progression thing or not, because I can't tell if most of the book is in the order the comics were written in, or not.

So on the one hand, I was a bit mystified by this whole endeavor. I can't quite tell if it was written with an audience in mind, or was just the author making comics for herself. On the other hand, by the time I finished the collection, I felt very fond of all the characters, and started missing them as soon as I closed the covers on the final panel. Did I mention how weirdly charming this collection is, even though everyone is slightly grumpy most of the time?

Read this if my review makes you curious! :-)
Profile Image for Jan Philipzig.
Author 1 book261 followers
January 20, 2016
I guess the title brings to mind the Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters or the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but the students of Jillian Tamaki’s SuperMutant Magic Academy are no aspiring superheroes or magicians – they are mutants like you and me, (more or less) regular teenagers faced with (more or less) regular high-school challenges. This book collects the most popular of Tamaki’s Ignatz-Award-winning webcomic strips (and adds a few new ones): some brilliantly observed, some a bit obvious, and some I did not get at all. The good ones are REALLY good, though...
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
April 24, 2021
I read this because I had liked her and her cousin Mariko's Skim and This One Summer, which are both more serious and contemplative and moody stories than this, which pretty much seems like it is a collection from her Ignatz award-winning webcomic by the same name. This is snarkier, smart-assier, funnier by far, representing Jillian's personality in a way that suggests (I have no idea) Skim and This One Summer may represent Mariko more? Who knows. This one is set in a precocious, bored boarding school which Tamaki makes fun of, but also delights in, and she loves all the characters. It was totally surprising to me in tone. I was expecting elementary school level cute, a kick-ass superhero girl story, which would have been fine. But it is sometimes edgier, which I prefer (as an adult). It's also web-comicky episodic, with lots of one page comics strung together, which makes it less novel than collection of stories, though over time you get a good picture of the school and kids.

This story has mutant students, a main character with cat ears named Wendy, and her closeted friend, Marsha, who has a secret crush on her. It has magic everywhere, with plenty of weird, idiosyncratic humor. It has pretentious nineties performance art, a teacher who sees through them and nails their self-absorbed behavior. . . I really liked it a lot. The art is fast web-comic sketchy, so different than her work with This One Summer, so initially I didn't think I'd like it as much, it felt rough, jokey, strange, and then as I read on, it felt Jeffrey Brown-appropriate. More accessible, not polished. Kind of funky. So I really liked it a lot. People keep mentioning the Harry Potter comparisons, and that's here, I guess, but it feels nothing like that world, really, beyond the obvious similarities. It's really funny with great dialogue and real kids in it!
Profile Image for Dov Zeller.
Author 2 books104 followers
March 23, 2016
When I first got this book out of the library I thought I was getting a graphic novel, and soon discovered that this was something very different. At first I was disappointed and I almost didn’t read it, but then I read a gr friend’s review and that helped me navigate the pages. This book comes out of a web comic I haven’t read. It is not a building narrative, though there are certainly narrative threads. It is more like dailies that are loosely connected because they are all concerned with a cast of characters in a school for super-mutant angsty teenagers.

There is a lot of humor, absurdity, gorgeous bleakness and joyous silliness that altogether remind me most of John Allison and Adrian Tomine. This is not Harry Potter, but it makes a lot of Harry Potterish references (including a teacher named Grimdorff) and jokes, and offers some Potterish charm while still being completely irreverent and messed up. (Here is a comic about a kid who dies all the time and rearrives in the world of the living.)

There are super funny dungeons and dragons scenes that sort of remind me of the scenes in Louis CK when all the comics get together and play poker. There is something both grounding and charming, it gives one a sense of familiarity with the characters that humanizes them and shows us their foibles.

But it’s also a reminder of how stories work — how narrative feeds on pain — and how humor works — taking the familiar and shifting it in ways that are at times groan-worthy but at times ingenious.

One of my favorite comics from the book is one in which some kids (girl-type people) have a seance and the dead person they conjure is a total asshole sexist jerk. It’s really funny and also, well, sick and sad and not that far from real life. (Here is a third of a 3-page episode in which the guy is conjured and they ask him about what heaven is like, and what his life was like before he died.)

That is another really great thing about this book, is that it overturns expectations of the mundane vs. the extraordinary, and the distance between mutant and not-mutant feels thinner and thinner as the comics continue on.

Characters: there is lovelorn Marsha longing after her pretty and popular and totally lovely best friend Wendy (a fox, and part fox).

There is Cheddar, a student trying to out-Sartre Sartre, and he existential philosophizes his way out of classes and all kinds of stuff, which is funny. And he’s kind of self-absorbed, but also, the kind of kid whose depth comes as a welcome variation on the theme of high school popular guys. There’s Gemma who is an interesting combination of jaded and world-weary, and kind of idealistic? She is best friends with Francis who is a fantastic performance artist.

There is some cosmic stuff I don’t always get, but it’s pretty beautiful and uncanny and sometimes bleak.

And there is some great queer humor. How she managed to, in one page, make fun of stereotypes about people turning queer from reading queer authors, and also totally humorously retell the story of Brokeback Mountain (a very serious, very beautiful, but somehow infinitely tease-able film, though I can’t speak for the book) I may never know.

So, what can I say? Read this book! Support this author! Her other graphic novels are a bit more gloomy but there is always off-beat and often sad humor to help ease or bring home the pain.

Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,372 reviews1,420 followers
January 28, 2019
At the SuperMutant Magic Academy, strange things happen and everyone looks different, but teenage angst and questions about reality remain the same. There is unrequited love, hormones run amok and popularity problems. There is a young man who can't seem to die, no matter how he tries to end his life. There's an artist who puts herself into shocking situations to underline the pointlessness of reality.

There's a young woman with the head of a lizard who just wants to find a boyfriend and a beautiful girl with ears like a fox who occasionally has to change into a fox and hunt prey. There's drugs and alcohol and a host of other issues, while the poor teachers are simply trying to educate the group.

I didn't connect well with this graphic novel and question its appropriateness for the younger end of the young adult scale. Older or more mature teens should be ok. There's moments that make light of self harm without, what I think, is the appropriate context. There's some sexual content that may be incredibly confusing and inappropriate for 11 and 12 year olds.

When I borrowed this from the library, I was under the impression that I could share this book with my child. After reading it, I realized I was wrong. That may have affected my opinions of SuperMutant Magic Academy. If I had just read it for enjoyment's sake, maybe I would have thought more of its content.

Or maybe not. Jillian Tamaki gives herself, usually, just six panels to create a narrative and it isn't enough. The jarring moments of reality left me with more questions than answers. I wanted more of a story and never really got that.

It made me think maybe I was missing out on something. If this is based off of a web comic, maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I had read it in its original medium.
Profile Image for somuchreading.
175 reviews251 followers
February 11, 2016
Οι τελευταίες 3 εβδομάδες δεν ήταν και οι καλύτερες και διάθεση/μυαλό για διάβασμα δεν υπήρχε, αλλά ευτυχώς που όποια στιγμή έπιασα κάτι ήταν αυτό.

Το SuperMutant Magic Academy είναι βαθιά σκεπτόμενο, βαθιά ουμανιστικό και βαθιά όμορφο. Οι ήρωές του είναι έφηβοι, παράξενοι έφηβοι που φοιτούν σε ένα παράξενο σχολείο, αλλά το ύφος του δεν είναι αυτό ακριβώς που περιμένει κανείς από ένα κόμικ φαντασίας. Δεν υπάρχουν κακοί, δράκοι, δεν υπάρχει Βόλντεμορτ.

Ιδιαίτερο και κουφό, με έναν τρόπο που ας πούμε είναι το τηλεοπτικό Rick and Morty ή σε φάσεις του το Community, αρκετά αστείο αλλά και τραγικό, στενάχωρο και με στιγμές που σε χτυπάνε στο στομάχι, όπως για παράδειγμα το Louie ή το BoJack Horseman, αλλά και εντελώς διαφορετικό από όλα αυτά.

Deadpan αστεία ανάμεσα σε φιλοσοφικούς διαλόγους, εφηβικά slices of life, teen angst, συναισθηματικά υπέροχα gags, διαφορετικοί, ξεχωριστοί χαρακτήρες, ολοσέλιδα art pieces που άλλοτε μπορεί να βγάζουν νόημα κι άλλοτε όχι, το βιβλίο δε σταμάτησε να δίνει διαφορετικό υλικό και συνεχόμενες μικρές εκπλήξεις.

Δε θα πω παραπάνω πράγματα. Ξερά, γεμάτα 4*/5 από μένα και τώρα θέλω οπωσδήποτε να διαβάσω το This One Summer της Jillian Tamaki, νομίζω έγινα φαν.
Profile Image for Lex.
139 reviews54 followers
February 8, 2016
Where do I even begin? SuperMutant Magic Academy is a series of comics about the students (and some staff members) at SuperMutant Magic Academy. I had originally picked up This One Summer because it looked interesting, but then I saw this one and it won out. I'm definitely going to have to go back get This One Summer, though, because if it's half as good as SuperMutant, I'm going to love it.

I don't even have the words, really, to explain how much I loved it. It was everything I could want out of a comic. I can't even think of a single thing in this that I would change. It's so realistic and hilarious. It manages to say some pretty deep things, things that need to be said, without getting heavy. The art wasn't mindblowing or anything but I really liked it.

Did I mention how realistic it is?! And it's a fantasy, okay! But there's a part (and I don't think it's a spoiler, but if you don't want to know, then just skip this paragraph okay) where this prophetic cat (yes! a prophetic cat!) tries to tell two kids that they're 'the chosen one' and instead of turning into a cliche where they're like 'yes i accept my destiny', they're like HELL TO THE NO, and get up and run away.
"Dude's going to lay down a prophecy or something! And we're going to get suckered into fulfilling it because we were sitting in this cave on a full moon or whatever? I'm not letting that happen. I am SO CLOSE to getting out of here! I'm not going to let some asshole in a little cap drag me back in!"

If that's not enough to convince you there's also: girls crushing on girls, a boy named Cheddar, a football player who believes sexuality has nothing to do w/ appreciating how perfect another man's ass is, awesome friendships, boys making out in the shower, and a girl who turns into a fox. Also a cat as a student. And knower of prophecies.

So yeah. This was great. Go read it. Right now.
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,829 reviews358 followers
November 19, 2018
My first thought on this is that I am wayyyy too old to truly appreciate this graphic novel! I liked the idea of a school for mutants and witches and I’m pretty sure that this would have totally been my jam when I was in junior high school. Because, let’s face it, we all feel like mutants when we’re in junior high.

It was definitely a creative way to illustrate all the problems that we have at that age: where do we fit in? What are our talents? What will be do after graduation? Or even today after school? Do our marks matter? Does that cute boy/girl know that we exist?

I can still relate to some of it—don’t we all still feel like mutants some days? But those days are fewer and farther between the older that I get. I know that I can support myself and run my life successfully on the majority of days. If I could talk to my teenage self that would be my message: you’re going to be okay. Loosen up and enjoy things more. Too bad that wisdom only comes to us once we’re short on the energy to appreciate it fully.
Profile Image for Mir.
4,842 reviews5,003 followers
January 14, 2022
The title had me expecting a little more jokey content, but the humor here is pretty black. I had to take a lot of breaks from the relentless nastiness of the characters to one another.
There were interesting and smart elements, though, and the magic/mutant mash was fun.
3.5 stars
Profile Image for Elizabeth A.
1,801 reviews107 followers
January 6, 2016
Let me start this review by saying that I'm not a fan of the short story format. Why does that matter? Because this book is a collection of connected comic strips. Each page is a single vignette of life as experienced by a group of teens in their final years of high school. Yes, it is boarding school, and the kids are all mutants in some manner, but first and foremost they are teens, so prepare to wallow in vats of teen angst.

The mostly black and white art is really sketchy, which I did love it, but I think the author wonderfully captured the humor, anger, moodiness, and snarkiness of that age group. I read some place that is book is a collection of her web comics, and as with any anthology, there are some pieces that are fantastic and others that were merely OK. Still, the ones that are fantastic are breathtakingly on point, and I would highly recommend this one for older teens.
Profile Image for Kailey (Luminous Libro).
2,856 reviews434 followers
March 5, 2016
There are so many things I hate about this comic. Where to start?
I can't stand all the profanity. That's the big one. It makes my head hurt and contributes nothing of value to the story.
My second problem with this... There is no story that I can discover. It's a series of one-liners and random observations about the world, but I see very little continuity or story line. Which makes it boring.
And thirdly, the characters are hateful and I hate them. They are selfish and mean and stupid and pretentious and disgusting. I hate every single person in this comic.
That is all. The end.
Profile Image for Jeffrey.
Author 169 books1,309 followers
July 2, 2015
Jillian Tamaki is an awesome illustrator, but she's also a hilarious writer. Mashing together Harry Potter and X-Men with teenage coming of age angst... goofy and smart, I hope she makes this a seven book series too. At least.
Profile Image for Vivian.
238 reviews259 followers
July 1, 2016
This was such a strange read. Very funny at times but also very weird. I didn't expect the commentary on society, culture, feminism and technology but it was much appreciated. Despite the quirkiness of the characters, you can't help but fall in love with them.
Profile Image for Peter Derk.
Author 24 books331 followers
January 13, 2016
The highs were high, and some of the humor was super excellent.

There was a little overuse of a joke type that I feel like crops up in web comics a lot. It goes like this:

Panel 1: Initiation of deep, philosophical discussion. Let's say it's about, I don't know, whether we're truly happy or it's just brain chemicals.

Panel 2: "Are we anything more than juices in our brains? And if so, is there a problem with putting in a fake juice, a Sunny D of sorts, if it makes us happy?"

Panel 3: "And is there such a thing as happiness? Or is it just the right combination of chemicals?

Panel 4: Character two then says, "Hey, are you going to eat that donut?"

End scene.

I'm doing a terrible job describing this. What I'm getting at is the Calvin and Hobbes strips that go a little something like this:


There were a number of these in Supermutant Magic Academy that felt like someone assembling this big thought, and then someone else totally bursts the bubble, and the joke the way in which life works like that. You have a deep, existential thing going on in your brain, and then you just think, "I want popcorn right now."

It's funny and true, but that setup is something that I think has to be used sparingly. Because what happens is, I start to smell that joke coming, so I skip to the end because, eh, I don't need to read this long setup if the rug's getting pulled out from under me.

And skipping ahead undermines the joke. The gag is a lot more effective if I don't skip the setup. But I don't want to read the setup if it's more of a half-baked philosophical backflip meant to distract me from knowing the joke is coming.

That's a harsh thing to say about this book. This book didn't do it a ton, and I'm totally blaming it for doing something that everyone is doing. It's completely unfair. But if there's one thing my reviews are, it's unfair. So there you go.
Profile Image for Raina.
1,593 reviews124 followers
January 30, 2017
Jillian and her cousin, Mariko Tamaki, are some of my favorite story-creators out there. This is the first full-published piece exclusively by Jillian that I've read, and it has all the charm of her social media feeds.

It feels like an ongoing webcomic, collected and bound, which, of course, it is. The drawings feel more scrawly than her work in This One Summer or Skim - this world feels less considered, or plotted out. Not a bad thing, tho. I like seeing something from her that feels more Of her.

The world she presents is a send-up of Harry Potter and its ilk, of course. But the variety of magical entities is wider. Maybe a mix of HP + Moonhead + snark/cynicism.

It's good. I liked it.
I think I might have loved it even more if it had had more of a beginning/middle/end structure, but that's my own bias, and not what this is about.
Profile Image for Luca Suede.
60 reviews40 followers
January 5, 2022
A sassy and sweet quick read. Tamaki illustrates that the hilarious cringey awkward messiness of figuring out how to be a queer kid transcends magical, mutant, and mortal alike. Hippie professors, anarchist performance artists, gender roles, unrequited crushes, hot girls, and awkward butches.
Profile Image for Chelsea.
1,125 reviews598 followers
May 3, 2016
What a great book to start off 2016 with! I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything where there were so many things I was able to relate to on a personal level. There were multiple times I audibly laughed or said ‘yes!’, and that isn’t something I do often. I seriously want to be besties with the author. Very high 4 ½ stars

SuperMutant Magic Academy is not really a graphic novel, more of a collection of single paged comics that kind of make a story. They follow a large number of characters who attend a mutant/magic school. It is not told in consecutive order; rather each page is a little glimpse into the life of that character.

The book is very weird, and maybe the most random book I’ve ever read in my life. You never know what you’re going to get when you turn the page.

One thing is for sure and that is that it is hilarious, but in a way that is almost satire. Probably not the sort of humor for everyone, but definitely my kind of humor. I laughed out loud numerous times while reading.

It was also very deep and thoughtful on other pages. There were so many good points and funny ones that I want to quote, but I don’t want to spoil it.

It also featured one of the cutest (sort of unrequited) LGBT romances! I loved pretty much all of the characters, but the relationship between Marsha and Wendy was unbelievably cute. I related to a lot of the characters and their silly ‘high school problems’.

This book was a complete surprise to me, and I’m so happy I picked it up, because it was exactly what I wanted to read right now! Recommended for people who enjoy satire, dark humor, cute romance, or just something kind of relatable.
Profile Image for kate j.
258 reviews2 followers
January 30, 2022
review from reread january 2022:
sometimes i read supermutant magic academy when i am sad and it makes me feel better and this was one of those times :D

review from reread june 2021
idk no explanation i think it's just that this book is the antidote to any and all forms of loneliness

review from reread january 2021:
starting 2021 off right rereading supermutant magic academy (i was flipping through it to find a favorite page and then just ended up reading the entire thing)

the way jillian tamaki can make me laugh out loud, and then hit me in the stomach with the beautiful messiness of high school relationships and emotions on the next page, never fails to astound me. i love this book with my whole heart—it’s silly and ominous and nostalgic and thoughtful without taking itself too seriously. as with my other favorite graphic novels (*cough* nimona, this one summer, friends with boys), you fall in love with the characters before you discover the plot; you could watch them interact with each other, daily life in their own world, for the span of an entire book and not be disappointed.
Profile Image for Book Riot Community.
953 reviews108k followers
October 12, 2015
I love boarding school settings, magic, and the kinds of stories that make you feel smart/confused/amused all at once. SuperMutant Magic Academy hit all these notes and it’s a comic book. The strip, now anthologized, follows a number of students at a school for paranormal teens— and mostly they have the same issues as “normal” teenagers (boring classes, unrequited crushes, fears of an unknowable future), despite being able to cast spells, disappear, and fly. Tamaki’s balance of the mundane high school experience with fantastical powers was endlessly fascinating and hilarious. — Emma Nichols

from The Best Books We Read In August: http://bookriot.com/2015/08/31/riot-r...
Profile Image for lucy  black.
494 reviews32 followers
July 18, 2018
Just fucking love it. Beautiful and strange, often hilarious moments in an magic school with mutant students. It’s like a mix of Harry Potter with My So Called Life. I fell in love with all the characters and want to read the novel, watch the tv show and wear the merchandise. The inky brushstrokes and simplicity go really well with the teenage angst and fake depth done so well it becomes real depth.
Profile Image for RJ.
Author 6 books59 followers
July 30, 2016
Finished in one day. God, it's so good. Through one-off doodles about D&D and feminist performance art and prom, Jillian Tamaki creates these flawed magical teenage weirdos who are so different but all deeply relatable. She's a genius. I'm so happy this got an Eisner.

Also: super gay
Profile Image for Ellis.
1,207 reviews133 followers
February 4, 2016
Kelly was right! This is delightful & wonderful & all of the good adjectives, well worth staying up late to finish, which is my current criteria for excellence.
Profile Image for Cori Reed.
1,135 reviews379 followers
July 2, 2018
Well that was...strange. But also charming?
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,129 reviews

Join the discussion

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.