While I find the trend of American publishers attempting to capitalize on the booming manga market by trimming books down to “manga” size and artists mimicking the manga style frequently offputting, a few people get it right. Artist Jennifer Quick and writers Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir are some of those creators. Once in a Blue Moon presents a very classic fantasy plot: a girl, Aeslin Finn, grew up listening to her parents’ stories of a magical kingdom, Avalon, defended by the beautiful dragon knight and her beloved prince of the land. Her father’s death brings a sudden end to this fantasy life as her mother determines the time for fairy tales is over. Aeslin grows up with happy memories of her childhood stories until the day she is given the sequel volume to those adventures–she’s pulled literally into the world of the book and discovers not only that the whole world of Avalon is real, but also that she is the destined next Dragon Knight. Adding to the confusion, it turns out this particular destiny seems to run in the family. An ordinary girl thrown into a fantsic world is a common tale around the world, and her newfound companions, from a troublemaker playwright to a rebellious but good-hearted bandit, are not particularly new. Nonetheless, Once in a Blue Moon promises a fun ride through a magical world akin to any number of girl-centric fantasies popular in the prose world. Unique touches are included in how the story flips back and forth between the two worlds, giving both our world and Avalon’s equal weight in the story, and the plot promises to get more complex in future volumes. The art is done in manga style, though the format is more traditionally western, and the character design and world-creation all meld together into an interesting world.

Once in a Blue Moon, vol. 1
ISBN: 9781929998838
by Nunzio DeFilipps, Christina Weir, and Jennifer Quick
Oni Press 2004

  • Robin B.

    | She/Her Teen Librarian, Public Library of Brookline

    Editor in Chief

    Robin E. Brenner is Teen Librarian at the Brookline Public Library in Massachusetts. She has chaired the American Library Association Great Graphic Novels for Teens Selection List Committee, the Margaret A. Edwards Award Committee, and served on the Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She is currently the President of the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table for ALA. She was a judge for the 2007 Eisner awards, helped judge the Boston Globe Horn Book Awards in 2011, and contributes to the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. She regularly gives lectures and workshops on graphic novels, manga, and anime at comics conventions including New York and San Diego Comic-Con and at the American Library Association’s conferences. Her guide, Understanding Manga and Anime (Libraries Unlimited, 2007), was nominated for a 2008 Eisner Award.

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