A Witch’s Printing Office | Series Review
A Witch’s Printing Office, vols. 1-6 (complete)
By Mochinichi and Yasuhiro Miyama
Yen Press, 2019-2022
Rated T, for Teens
A Witch’s Printing Office centers on a magical version of the Japanese amateur comics festival Comiket and a magical print shop run by witch named Maki who just wants to go home. The artwork is extremely busy and the female characters are sometimes scantily clad (especially the succubus one boundary-pushing wizard keeps conjuring up), so this is more of an older-teen book, all the more so because it is filled with otaku culture in-jokes. On the other hand, it’s a quick and funny read, and since the chapters are self-contained, it’s easy to dip into and then set aside for a bit. The series is complete in six volumes.
Maki is on her way home from Comiket when she is suddenly whisked away to a vaguely medieval, RPG-ish fantasy world. Looking for a spell that will send her home, she sets up Magiket as a way to bring together magic folk from all over the kingdom. It’s a new concept to the inhabitants of this world, but they take to it right away. Maki uses Comiket as the template, and a lot of the humor in the series comes from overlaying the customs of a 21st-century Japanese niche-within-a-niche on this vaguely pre-modern fantasy world. The ban on lining up overnight, for example, turns into a group of warriors dispatching a band of magical familiars… to the end of the line. As Maki makes the rounds of the show, checking on spells and booths, she meets the creators and tests out their magic, often with hilarious results. And when she tries to make a catalog for the show, she runs into a problem unique to magical worlds: The images refuse to stay in their places on the page and wander off into other panels.
When she’s not running Magiket, Maki has her own business, a print shop. Her sole magic power is the ability to copy markings from one piece of paper to another, if she is touching both pages. She can copy to a stack of papers as well, making her basically a human printing press. After she magically produces all the pages, her companions bind the books by hand. Maki is smart and creative. When she has to source some red dragon hide, she confronts the dragon, who just wants to be left alone but is willing to trade a shed skin for books, and when a shipment of books goes astray, she plunges into a supposedly impenetrable maze to retrieve them. She runs the print shop and the Magiket with the help of a diverse crew of magical folk, so this book also works as kind of a weird fantasy workplace comedy.
The artwork is filled with delightful details, and readers familiar with Japanese culture, especially the fannish side, will find a lot to enjoy about this book, but it’s also just a fun magical slice of life story for the general reader.
For more witch manga, check out my Mondo Manga column at SLJ!
About Brigid Alverson
Brigid Alverson, the editor of the Good Comics for Kids blog, has been reading comics since she was 4. She has an MFA in printmaking and has worked as a book editor and a newspaper reporter; now she is assistant to the mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts. In addition to editing GC4K, she writes about comics and graphic novels at MangaBlog, SLJTeen, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Comic Book Resources, MTV Geek, and Good E-Reader.com. Brigid is married to a physicist and has two daughters in college, which is why she writes so much. She was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards.
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