Boo! This week, I’m taking the highly imaginative step of writing about spooky manga. The twist? All three titles are penned by trailblazing female artists. First up is Mitsukazu Mihara’s Haunted House (Tokyopop), a comedy about a normal teen whose parents have clearly embraced Addams Family Values. Next on the agenda is Rumiko Takahashi’s Mermaid Saga (VIZ), an older series that mixes horror and folklore to good effect. (You can read the first chapter for free at the Shonen Sunday website.) And last but not least is Kanako Inuki’s School Zone (Dark Horse), a three-volume series about a school built atop a cemetery — always a bad idea, kids, even when the land is being offered at bargain-basement prices.
BY MITSUKAZU MIHARA • TOKYOPOP • 192 pp. • RATING: OLDER TEEN (16+)
Remember that brief but excruciating period in your adolescence in which everything your parents said, did, or wore proved horribly embarrassing? Sabato Obiga, the hero of Haunted House, is living through that very stage. The crucial difference between his experience and yours, however, is that his family is genuinely odd: they look and act like something out of a Charles Addams cartoon, from their dramatic attire — Mom dresses like Morticia Addams, Dad like an undertaker — to their penchant for ghoulish pranks. Though Sabato desperately wants to date, his family members do their best to sabotage each new relationship by staging ridiculous scenes in front of his girlfriend du jour. In the first chapter, for example, Mom blithely picks up the family cat and announces that she’ll be “cooking something special on account of our guest,” while in a later chapter, his parents don hockey masks for a visit to the video store where he works. (Note to fellow animal saps: no cats were harmed in the making of this comic.)