An OEL Manga
By Tavicat (Rikki Simons and Tavisha), Shutterbox is a Gothic Fantasy following Megan Amano, a Perky Goth
from Santa Monica who, in her dreams is a Shutterbox Exchange Student, the living anchor keeping Merridah University of Spiritual Education, a world where the dead study to become and practice as muses inspiring the living, in-synch with the physical world.
In Merridiah, she meets AJ, a former high school classmate she was sure she witnessed committing suicide on her graduation night by walking into the sea, revealed to be the muse of Childhood's end, constantly being reborn and then killing himself at age eighteen. She also meets Dane, a dark, handsome stranger and AJ's twin brother. The brothers mentor her in the workings of the University, but it becomes gradually apparent that not everybody there has Megan's best interests at heart.
The early volumes of the series explore the nature of Merridiah and Megan's role within it, while the later develop an arc linking Megan's past life to AJ and Dane's. The first four volumes were published by Tokyopop, but dropped when the recession caused the company to pare town their titles, including many of their OEL Manga. Volume 5 is complete, and the creators are currently looking for a publisher.
This series provides examples of:
- Animesque: Mixes manga influence with very sketchy penwork, a pinch of American comic style, detailed backgrounds and a lot of mixed media effects. The overall look is distinctive, but the quality can be a little hit-and-miss.
- Bishounen: AJ, Dane and Thom. This series knows its audience!
- Deadpan Snarker: Megan attempts this, but is outdone by Dane. As the camera spirit says, "sarcastic spirits make the best muses".
- Elegant Gothic Lolita: Megan's Shutterbox uniform...oh hell, everybody in Merridiah pretty much dresses this way. The comic has more lace, ribbons, crucifixes, little buttons and skull details than you or your grandma can handle.
- Genki Girl: Even Megan describes Dagny as 'crazy'.
- Goggles Do Nothing: Dagny, crazy otaku fangirl type that she is, wears goggles as an accessory.
- Jerk Ass: Dane. Justified in that he is cursed with having no conscience. to some extent Caroline, muse of murderers, who has no excuse, she's just a bitch.
- Meaningful Name: Several characters. The book even points some of them out for the reader.
- Perky Goth: Megan definitely fits the type, and AJ seems to be an unusual male example too.
- Really 700 Years Old: Most of the muses. Even Megan herself has had at least one previous life and is shocked to discover she has kids floating around in Merridiah from that lifetime
- Reincarnation Romance: Subverted to a degree, but played straight in some ways.
- Tall, Dark and Snarky: Dane pretty well epitomises this trope.
- Visions of Another Self: This comes up quite a lot, and indeed, dominates volume 4 particularly.
- Wholesome Cross Dresser: Thom...er...Thomasina? Swings between elegant top hat and tails and a flapper dress, dependant on his mood, purely because he likes pretty things.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Seems to be an unusual subversion. The characters who have pink and blue hair are implied to use dye, and other characters react realistically to it, fellow teenagers call Megan a 'pink haired freak'.