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Buzz! Paperback – 19 Dec 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Oni Press (19 Dec. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1620100886
  • ISBN-13: 978-1620100882
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,142,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam Quixote TOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 Dec. 2013
Format: Paperback
Set in a world which revolves around spelling bees, awkward teen Webster gets drawn into the world of illegal one-on-one street spelling bees. He's befriended by a pair of spelling outlaws after they see the potential in him and decide to enter him in the biggest spelling competition in the land. Can Webster defeat the most dangerous speller of them all and bring down the Spelluminati?

Published by Oni Press and drawn in Tessa Stone's Manga-influenced art style, Buzz! bears more than a passing resemblance to Oni's biggest success, Scott Pilgrim. Ananth Panagariya and Stone take the dull concept of spelling bees and jazz them up by making the letters that spell the words become actual weapons to attack opponents with so you get the Scott Pilgrim-ish lavish fight sequences. As you would expect in a comic with such a heavy emphasis on spelling bees ruling the world, the book is quite comedic and knowingly silly, a tone that's a lot like Scott Pilgrim's.

Stone's art style manages to make two people spelling obscure words seem extremely dramatic which is a helluva feat by itself. The opponents Webster go up against are also similarly outré from an immortal who has seen every language develop since man first appeared to a sorceress who magics up words.

I found the story to be a bit one-dimensional - we don't spend much time outside the tournament to learn more about the characters' wider world so that it restricts the reader from being fully drawn into the book. Given the huge cultural significance of spelling bees in this culture, I'd have liked to have seen it reflected in the architecture, or fashion, or dialogue rather than have the outside world be unaffected by it, besides cheering on spellers in a stadium.
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Format: Paperback
This is a strange little fellow. It's one of those books that take you half-way through till you fall for it. The second half was just so much more entertaining as by then I'd caught up in the story and characters, which are very unusual, to say the least. This is a take on the martial arts battle mangas only here we have spelling bee competitors battling each other with the letters forming into solid shapes and attacking the other person, causing injury. OK, it sounds weird and honestly, I thought what the heck? when I first started it almost not wanting to finish the book. But I'm glad I did because it has a good message of believing in yourself and it turned out to be quite a fun story. I can see myself enjoying this much more as a teen as I was one of those "word nerd" girls. LOL. I liked the art; very manga-like but the use of yellow in the b/w illustrations was not aesthetically pleasing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 10 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Mild buzz 24 Dec. 2013
By Sam Quixote - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Set in a world which revolves around spelling bees, awkward teen Webster gets drawn into the world of illegal one-on-one street spelling bees. He's befriended by a pair of spelling outlaws after they see the potential in him and decide to enter him in the biggest spelling competition in the land. Can Webster defeat the most dangerous speller of them all and bring down the Spelluminati?

Published by Oni Press and drawn in Tessa Stone's Manga-influenced art style, Buzz! bears more than a passing resemblance to Oni's biggest success, Scott Pilgrim. Ananth Panagariya and Stone take the dull concept of spelling bees and jazz them up by making the letters that spell the words become actual weapons to attack opponents with so you get the Scott Pilgrim-ish lavish fight sequences. As you would expect in a comic with such a heavy emphasis on spelling bees ruling the world, the book is quite comedic and knowingly silly, a tone that's a lot like Scott Pilgrim's.

Stone's art style manages to make two people spelling obscure words seem extremely dramatic which is a helluva feat by itself. The opponents Webster go up against are also similarly outré from an immortal who has seen every language develop since man first appeared to a sorceress who magics up words.

I found the story to be a bit one-dimensional - we don't spend much time outside the tournament to learn more about the characters' wider world so that it restricts the reader from being fully drawn into the book. Given the huge cultural significance of spelling bees in this culture, I'd have liked to have seen it reflected in the architecture, or fashion, or dialogue rather than have the outside world be unaffected by it, besides cheering on spellers in a stadium. Also the characters are somewhat archetypical - not one of them seeming original, and the dialogue is a bit dull.

I do like the direction of this book and would like to see more comics like this that take an ordinary concept and play around with it to create something different and clever, rather than see even more superhero analogue stories or fantasy/sci-fi mash-ups. Buzz! is an entertaining enough book that fans of manga (think Dragon Ball's tournaments but with a much larger vocabulary) and Scott Pilgrim will enjoy the most.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Spelling rules! 7 Dec. 2013
By Andy Shuping - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
ARC provided by NetGalley

In a world where spelling bees are regulated, illegal underground spelling bees become a way of life, where letters become weapons to defeat or harm your opponent. Young Webster and his sister Merriam live a quiet life studying for the sanctioned spelling bees...until the day Webster gets caught up in an underground Spelling Bee after impressing the Outlaw King, who grooms Webster to get into the regional Spelling Bee and expose the Spelluminati for the scoundrels they are! Along the way Webster makes friends with other underground champions and prepares to battle the one person he never thought would cross his path at the final battle.

Ananth is bit better known for his webcomic that he works on with Yuko Ota, called Johnny Wander (an autobiographical strip) but he branches into fiction here with this excellent, fast paced tale. You wouldn't think spelling could be fun, but Ananth turns it into a power to make letters come alive and makes it illegal outside of sanctioned events. It's a fast paced story with action, battles, and a couple of death matches and interesting and entertaining characters. I ended the book wanting more and I really hope they give it to us.

The art is Scott Pilgrimish in style, with sharp lines to create shadows and depth to the characters. The characters are well designed and Tessa does an excellent job of blending words in with the characters making sure that neither gets lost. The bulk of the book is black and white, with yellow used to accentuate the colors. And to be honest I wish they had chosen a different color or perhaps a different shade of yellow as it's a bit eye glaringly bright at times. Overall though great illustrations.

I can't wait to read this in print and I really hope they come out with a second volume in the series. I can see middle school aged and up enjoying this fast paced enjoyable comic, and who knows it might even create some new spelling champions out there? I give the book 4 out of 5 stars.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I wish there were a way to give separate reviews for writing and art 17 Dec. 2013
By Kanni - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Ananth writes a solid story. I would argue that only the most initial premise (spelling bees) is particularly original, but honestly, there are only so many stories in the world and the most important thing is a tale told well. In this, "Buzz!" is proof of the author's talent. It's a page-turner, with lots of action and snappy dialogue. The plot flows smoothly, and major events happen with enough regularity to keep things fresh. This does have the "high-stakes battle, then higher-stakes battle!" format like most "shounen manga". Personally, it works for me and it works for the purposes of the story, but some folk might be turned off. But hey, it's what it said on the cover. The characters are also utterly charming, and I would love to see more of them. I would rate the writing 4/5 -- better than serviceable, but not quite perfect.

The art, however, doesn't really live up to the story. The earlier review's comparison to Scott Pilgrim was apt, except that Scott Pilgrim had more comprehensible layouts. Now that's something I never thought I'd say! Independently, the characters are drawn in a way interpretable to the reader, but the composition is a mess and the transition between events is often unclear. A few times I actually wondered if a page was missing. I guess I would say the art is suited to standalone images, but lacks the comic fundamentals. It gets the job done, but writing of this caliber deserves better. (2.5-3/5)

At the end of the day, I'd recommend this comic, but with the disclaimer that you will probably need to re-read portions to get a clear idea of the action. Thankfully, the writing is good enough that this doesn't feel like a huge encumbrance.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Cool Concept, Not Sure On Execution 24 Dec. 2013
By Talvi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Buzz! by Ananth Panagariya and Tessa Stone is an inventive riff on words. In a world which is obsessed with spelling, young Webster and his sister Merriam (get it?) try to live a quiet life after spelling ruined their parents' lives and caused their deaths. Young Webster is inadvertantly caught up in an illegal underground Spelling Bee, where letters are weapons and opponents disarmed or harmed during hte process. After nearly getting caught by the police, Webster escapes but befriends two of the underground combatants who go to his school. The rest of the book focuses on Webster deciding against his sister's protestations to work toward the Regional Spelling Bee.

The artwork is black and white and very modern stylized with splashes of yellow to draw the eye. Think Scott Pilgrim Saves The World and you'll get an idea of the inspiration for this series. It is very suitable for the story, though, which is written in a very frenetic pace. A few times the transitions between panels seemed very clunky and lacking a good flow - going from one scene to the next almost randomly so that I often found myself going back to see if I missed something (and thereby taking me out of the story).

There is a lot of creativity here - the battles especially use words that are very specific to the state of the characters. As an example, when Webster battles a mysterious hooded girl brought up in a cult (who apparently worship Scrabble), she gets words such as thaumaturgy and tenebrous. He gets taupe and then she gets ersatz. You get the idea. So how does he beat her? As with all the opponents, he out thinks them - and in her case, what weakness would someone obsessed with scrabble have?

So, yes, there are clever things in here. But as well, they seem too pat and far beyond what the timid and rather squeaky sounding Webster would envision. As well, one has to wonder why the words are so specific to defeat challengers and not very random. Honestly, as I read this, I felt the author was trying too hard to be clever and it just wasn't working for me. Even the whole concept of a world obsessed with spelling seemed off since ironically it really only works for languages with so many irregular non phonetic words like English (e.g., you don't find spelling bees for syllabic-based languages such as Finnish or Japanese.

The story just didn't pull me in. The artwork was very BAM! POW! SOCK! in your face with nearly every inch of space being used either by GIANT words crammed into a small panel or by busy artwork. And it used so many fonts and font sizes that it became a chore to read early on - just too overwhelming. Many of the spelling words were written as a dictionary entry (e.g., /riˈkalsətrənt for recalcitrant) so it became annoying to figure out each word. I imagine the author chose to do that so that the reader can start to spell the word in his head without it already being done so in type - but I'm not really reading the story to challenge myself, I'm reading it to enjoy Webster's journey. And I just didn't with all the distractions going on all the time.

That said, it isn't a bad graphic novel at all. As I said, there are some clever things in here and it is super modern. Very Scott Pilgrim, whose fans I think will really enjoy this.

Received as an ARC from the publisher.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
It's Spelling Bee Shonen and I cannot get enough. 22 Jan. 2014
By Jonathan Ying - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I picked this up on the names behind it alone, having no clue what on earth it was going to be about. Turns out, it's about spelling bees.

Wait come back! It's really freaking good!

This is the sort of silliness I'd only expect out of Japan, where you can make a 500 episode show for 13 year old boys about tournament level cooking, or fishing, or tops. It's just plain ridiculous, but it WORKS.

Both Ananth and Tessa are at the top of their games. The writing is clever and sharp and carries momentum like what, and the art is graphic, dynamic, and overall stunning. I'd recommend this to anyone who is a fan of good writing or art, and who can appreciate complete and utter commitment to their concept. This book doesn't screw around and it is entirely 100% earnest about what it is.

I freaking love it.
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