Help me be a cool comics-buying mom
July 27, 2008 8:16 PM   Subscribe

In search of dark, gory, female-centered, Asian, did I mention dark, comics/graphic novels.

Help me be cool! My 17 year old foster kid (lesbian Asian girl) is turning 18 in a couple of weeks. I want to get her some cutting edge comics and/or graphic novels. She likes female, Asian, dark, gory, goth(ic). Any suggestions?
posted by ClaudiaCenter to Media & Arts (38 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman?
posted by divabat at 8:37 PM on July 27, 2008

Variante, perhaps?
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:40 PM on July 27, 2008

Kabuki by David Mack
posted by izoralee at 8:47 PM on July 27, 2008

Maybe something like The Couriers by Brian Wood?
posted by The Straightener at 8:51 PM on July 27, 2008

I think you're in SF, right? Go browse at Isotope, in Hayes Valley. You'll find lots of options.
posted by judith at 8:51 PM on July 27, 2008

How are you on manga? Try Jigoku Shoujo aka "Hell Girl". The basic story is that there's a special web site you can visit, and enter the name of someone you despise. If you do, the Hell Girl comes to visit you. If you agree to her terms, she will carry off that person to hell. BUT... when you die, you go to hell, too.

I don't know how gory it is, but it's definitely dark.

It was turned into an anime. The first season of it is available in Region 1.
posted by Class Goat at 9:10 PM on July 27, 2008

If running away from ones evil (like Dr Doom evil) parents counts as dark, the team of Runaways are led by a strong willed Asian girl who has at least one hot girl-kiss with one hot lesbian who is in love with her. Not to mention that it is very well written and rife with angst and pop culture references. Which would have gotten me at 18.
posted by boy detective at 9:11 PM on July 27, 2008

The manga can also be bought from that web site. Or you could try visiting one of the big-name book stores; a lot of them carry manga these days.
posted by Class Goat at 9:17 PM on July 27, 2008

Thanks, keep 'em coming! I've got a coupla comic book stores to browse, I just don't know what's in and what's new. "Hell Girl" sounds like it reaches an acceptable level of darkness. I'll check all of these out.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:25 PM on July 27, 2008

Oh. Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni might be a good one.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:32 PM on July 27, 2008

Mai the Psychic Girl may not be "cutting edge", but it's Japanese and frequently features exploding heads.
posted by SPrintF at 9:38 PM on July 27, 2008

Junji Ito writes incredibly disturbing and incredibly excellent and inventive (not horrorporn) horror manga. They frequently have female protagonists. Here's a Metafilter post about him with manga examples. The darkest of Goths would come out of one desperately needing to hug a puppy.
posted by schroedinger at 9:39 PM on July 27, 2008

Battle Angel Alita.
Holy shit is this series ever good.
posted by Menomena at 9:40 PM on July 27, 2008

Uzumaki is a classic. Junji Ito also did Tomie, which isn't as good imo, but is more female centered, and is definitely gory and gothic.
posted by agropyron at 9:42 PM on July 27, 2008

Y: The Last Man is pretty much all women (essentially, only one man is left alive). It's been getting raves and I like it quite a bit. Richard Moore's Boneyard is sexy & funny with a pin-up flair but is set in a graveyard inhabited by a wide array of undead beasties.
posted by chairface at 9:44 PM on July 27, 2008

Try the nice folks at Last Gasp. I'll also ask my friend who works there if she has any suggestions.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:45 PM on July 27, 2008

If she's at all interested in manga, Angel Sanctuary is definitely gothic, as is XXXholic. Death Note is my favorite "dark" series, but the main girl, although quite goth, is not a well-rounded character.
posted by betweenthebars at 9:45 PM on July 27, 2008

Higurashi ("When they cry") is definitely dark. Lots of gore in that one!

That one was also turned into an anime, and it's in the process of being released in R1. But I don't think the manga ever made North American release. You could probably find the original Japanese mangas (in Japanese) somewhere like Kinokuniya, but you didn't mention whether your foster daughter has any languages besides English.

(Higurashi gives me the creeps. I saw a frame grab from it once showing a really cute little girl cheerfully saying, "I like to kill them slowly, with poison.")
posted by Class Goat at 9:49 PM on July 27, 2008

Yeah, Class Goat, watch the opening scene of Episode 5.

Fun times!
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:56 PM on July 27, 2008

Several other manga that might work include Blood+, Boogiepop Doesn't Laugh, and one more which is just not coming to me, though I had it a bit ago. If it comes back I'll post again.

so tired...
posted by Caduceus at 10:20 PM on July 27, 2008

Based on the intro animation at Funimation's site, the "Hell Girl" anime is gory. I see blood splashing. Presumably the manga is, too.
posted by Class Goat at 10:33 PM on July 27, 2008

2nding kabuki. it's not gothic but it is all of the other things.
posted by juv3nal at 10:36 PM on July 27, 2008

Yeah, Class Goat, watch the opening scene of Episode 5.

Thank you for the invitation, but keep it away from me! I don't like horror shows!
posted by Class Goat at 10:39 PM on July 27, 2008

Not exactly gory manga, but your stepdaughter should like Black Hole, by Charles Burns. I think it kind of matches your criteria, but is oh so much more.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:45 PM on July 27, 2008

Nthing Kabuki.
posted by nihraguk at 11:57 PM on July 27, 2008

I'll second Battle Angel Alita as fitting the bill pretty well. It's dark, it's Japanese, and it has a touch of the old ultraviolence. More importantly, while the main character is straight, some of the supporting characters are not and the whole comic has a very empowering and feminist friendly atmosphere, ya know, for a comic about a post apocalyptic cyber-dystopia.

Boogie Pop is indeed good, and so is the anime Serial Experiments Lain, both of which are a few years old now and are similar thematically. Both are dark, violent, have female protagonists, and feature unconventional storytelling. Lain is a slow weird mindtrip, but I thought of it in particular because Lain's connection to a female classmate of hers is a very important dynamic to the show.

If you're looking for something more cutting edge I'd suggest Gunnerkrigg Court which is a webcomic but will be available in book form soon. It fits the female, dark, and gothic requirements but isn't particularly violent.

Speaking of violent, it's pretty hard to go wrong with Johnny the Homicidal Maniac by Jhonen Vasquez. More cult classic than cutting edge.

If she's into Batman comics at all, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are a pretty adorable psudo-lesbian couple who have had their own comics from time to time. I know there is a trade paperback of the Harley comics out there. Possibly too cute for what you're looking for.
posted by CheshireCat at 12:40 AM on July 28, 2008

Shiki by Ryu Fujisaki. It's a Japanese manga based on an excellent horror novel by Fuyumi Ono (a woman), which is about an isolated village in the mountains that is suddenly plagued by inexplicable deaths. I just bought books number one and two last night and they creeped me right out, even though I've read the novel before and am familiar with the story. Dark, check. Gory, check. Asian, check. Female-centered, sort of, since the character who holds the key to the cause of the deaths is a girl. Since the comics just came out in Japan, I'm pretty certain it hasn't been released in English yet. But the publisher is Shueisha so there's a good possibility that it will be someday and it is definitely worth a read.
posted by misozaki at 1:00 AM on July 28, 2008

This isn't a graphic novel -- just an unpublished novel, in fact -- but The Space Between Dreams by Lee Turcotte is one of the most enjoyable and tightly-written cyberpunk/action/awesome/lesbian/ninja/grafitti/postmodern/pseudo-philosophy/conspiracy stories I've read, published or otherwise. It's full of ideas, and although some of them are getting a little internet-cliche by now, the book itself is still fresh - and above all, fun. Oh, and it's pretty darn gory in places.

Anyway, sorry if I'm gushing, but I've always been disappointed that he never managed to get it picked up. He did, however, release it as a free e-book. Now he seems to have disappeared off the internet, but you can still download the book here.
posted by Drexen at 3:26 AM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

She might like Mike Carey's Crossing Midnight series.
posted by Stacey at 3:53 AM on July 28, 2008

I've been hearing a lot about Skim, which just came out recently. It's about a girl who falls for her teacher at an all-girls private school.
posted by Jeanne at 4:04 AM on July 28, 2008

For what it's worth to add to the chorus of people recommending Kabuki, I expected your [more inside] was going to be "I just read Kabuki, and want more stuff exactly like that!" Your description is basically a 100% accurate version of Kabuki.

Disclaimer: Kabuki is written by a white American dude with an Asian wife, and the books spend a whooole lot of time depicting the beautiful bodies of mysterious Asian women, so it definitely leaves itself open to charges of neocolonialist fetishization. I don't know how radical or normative your particular stepdaughter might be, though, so that may or may not be a problem.

And seconding divabat's suggestion: I ain't ever met a teenaged goth chick who wasn't alll about the character of Death, in The Sandman comics. You might look into Death: The High Cost of Living, if she doesn't own that already.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:26 AM on July 28, 2008

if you're traipsing into the borderline perkgoth territory of Death, and if your foster daughter is a club-going, budding scenester sort of goth then she might get a kick out of Gloom Cookie.

Also, it's titular character is a male ronin, but Blade of the Immortal is a rather gritty swordsman manga with its own collection of badass female characters.
posted by bl1nk at 8:40 AM on July 28, 2008

Seconding Tomie.
posted by anansi at 8:51 AM on July 28, 2008

Thanks everyone! I'll keep checking back, too. I'll print this out and bring to the comic book store.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:25 AM on July 28, 2008

(Yes, that'll be me, with the interwebs printout and my reading glasses, Ooh, Sonny, can you help me find the manga section? And (peering) Gloom Cake, er, Cookie. (Cries at lack of coolness.))
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:32 AM on July 28, 2008

To save paper: I know Isotope (*waves at James & Kirsten*) has a computer with a net connection. I'm not sure, but Comix Experience on Divisadero might have one now. I like both stores.

Oh, & for funny, gory, goth: Johnny the Homicidal Maniac.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:08 PM on July 28, 2008

The Embalmer is a very nice manga about... well, a guy who embalms dead people. The art is very nice and I was suprised by the story, it was much better than I expected (many of the goth mangas I've read are very cliched). The protagonist is male and there's a female love interest, but otherwise if fits all your requirements. I recommend it very much.

The same artist has a series called Doll, about human looking androids and their masters. The art is gorgeous but the I think the stories are a bit lacking. It's mostly psychological horror and suspense, with some sexual themes in some of the stories, but nothing too heavy.

The author has other series but I haven't read them. She also illustrates the Gothic Lolita Bible (nothing to do with sex or religion), which is now translated by Tokyopop but it's nothing like the original Japanese version.
posted by clearlydemon at 7:48 PM on July 28, 2008

a bit late, but here are some suggestions from the folks at Last Gasp (and much overlaps with previous recommendations in the thread):

A few quick ideas:

Dark/gothic: Sandman, Death miniseries, other stuff from Vertigo/DC

On the creepy/cute continuum: Lenore, Junko Mizuno's books (Pure Trance,
Cinderalla, Hell Babies, etc.), Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Seonna Hong's

Good adventure story: Y: The Last Man (male protagonist but almost all
other characters are female, with a wide range of ethnicities and sexual
preferences, plenty of ass kicking and decent writing)

Good identity-exploring gn: Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine (again a male
protagonist, but all Asian main characters, plenty of cute lesbians)

I'm a little weak on the gory stuff: I just re-read my old ECs and
Creepy/Eerie/House of Secrets when I need to get my mayhem on. I hear
that Dark Horse will be putting out a collection of Creepy in the next few

And another Gasper also recommends Junko Mizuno.

I can't think of anything that fits all these categories, but
here are some that fit some of them:

American Born Chinese has been getting rave reviews, and was a National
Book Award finalist.

The Watchmen is classic, and is dark and gory as hell.

Ariel Shrag's books are some of the best teenage lesbian comics ever.. as
well as just some of the best comics ever, period. You can go in order and
start with Awkward and Definition, or you can jump into the middle with
Potential, her best book.

I might also add the Runaways series: teen superheroes battling their
supervillain parents. Pretty multi-culti, as I understand it.

posted by gingerbeer at 2:56 PM on July 30, 2008

« Older Why do shows look different when rerun on...   |   What goes in a care package to Kyrgyzstan? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.