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Off*beat is an original English-language manga authored by Jennifer Lee Quick. Winning a silver medal for Best Graphic Novel in 2005 from ForeWord Magazine,[1] Off*beat is both licensed and published by Tokyopop, with two volumes currently available, released September 13, 2005 [2] and November 7, 2006.[3] The third volume is expected April 2007. A live presentation of the first chapter of Volume 1 is available through Tokyopop's Manga Online feature, Mangapods, though Quick herself denies being part of the project due to lack of communication.[4] In an early conception of the story, all characters wore school uniforms.[5]

Story

Spoiler Warning: Spoiler details may follow.

The story of Off*beat is set in Queens, Manhattan, and follows the exploits of Christopher "Tory" Blake, a bright and disenfranchised fifteen year-old who amuses himself by taking endless notes in a notebook about what he sees and hears each day. Usually a loner, Tory becomes infatuated with the boy who moves in next door in the middle of the night, and even switches schools to St. Peter's so that he can follow the new boy, Colin Stephens, and learn what he is hiding.

While Tory generally has an over-active imagination, Colin truly has secrets to conceal. He is withdrawn, does poorly in school, sleeps through classes in the library, and has episodes of sickness characterized by shaking and coughing. He and his guardian are also somehow connected to the enigmatic "Gaia Project."

Behind the guise of a student council member, Tory plots to get closer to the boy by offering peer tutoring sessions to students whose conduct is below what is considered acceptable. Dragged into the scheme, Colin, along with Tory's newfound friend Mandy, form a study group, though the boys eventually pursue their own private outings. All the while, Tory continues to unravel the mystery behind the Gaia Project.

Cast

Christopher "Tory" Blake

Born August 26, 1990, a Virgo [6] named after his hated father who left the family, Tory is an asocial self-proclaimed genius with a photographic memory, skilled at playing arcade games. So unchallenged by academics that he resorts to other means of exhausting his energy, he is overly obsessive when something or someone catches his interest, and keeps tabs on every event he deems significant in his life, recording the exact time (down to the minute or second) and place in which they occur. When Colin moves into the apartment across the street, he instantly becomes hooked on tracking his every move. He chases after Colin, blinding himself with the prospect of uncovering his secrets; he is unwilling to admit to himself the circumstances surrounding his feelings towards the other boy.

Colin Stephens

Born November 18, 1989[6] in South Africa to a British father and British Chinese mother,[7] Colin is an extremely quiet, mysterious, and cold Scorpio[6] who moves into the apartment (346 68th St., Woodridge, Queens, New York) across the street from Tory Saturday September 25, 2004, between 12:14 AM and 1:25 AM. His success in school is mediocre despite study, and he often skips classes, adding to his already poor reputation among teachers and students alike. He lives a secluded life, only leaving his home to go to church and to travel. He suffers from an ailment that causes intense coughing and shivering that may or may not be related to his involvement in the Gaia Project. Though he rejects Tory and Mandy's attempts to help him during a relapse of his condition, he eventually becomes close friends with the two during their peer tutoring sessions. He owns approximately seven cats.

Amanda "Mandy" Townslan

An outgoing, popular, and gossipy girl at St. Peter's who is in the same science and P.E. classes as Tory and Colin. She has an affinity for withdrawn individuals, which leads her to befriend the two boys, always willing to lend a sympathetic ear. She has trouble in physics class, but does well in social studies and history. A vegetarian, Mandy supports animal rights and hopes to find a career in social services. She also enjoys meddling in Tory and Colin's relationship. Her two close friends, Amy and Mira, believe that she has strange tastes in regards to the boys she hangs out with.

Mary Grace Blake

Tory's overprotective single mother. She is the head of the graphic design department of a small advertising agency where she works, and is the owner of the apartment duplex where she and her son live together. She is mild-mannered and does not become infuriated by the fact that Paul steals food from their fridge, but worries around the clock about her son.

Paul Patterson

A college student who rents out the apartment above Tory's, Paul is the boy's only intellectual equal in some respects. He makes a living off graphic design, works towards a film major, and is obsessed with video games and internet porn. He is skilled with computers, able to hack files and write programs, often serving as Tory's means of collecting information on Colin. He pesters the boy for stalking Colin, but is repetitively met with defiance, which prompts him to take his leftovers. His eyes are blue.

Dr. Dustin Garrets

Born and raised in Massachusetts, 1958, Dr. Garrets is the American cofounder and present leader of the Gaia Project (launched 1985), and Colin's guardian. He studied archaeology, anthropology, and linguistics at Birkbeck, and is retired from science, but met with Colin's parents before their deaths and continued his research, taking custody of the boy after their respective passings. He cares only for his work, disregards Colin's personal interests, discourages him from making friends or spending money on frivolous things, and prevents his expulsion from school through large monetary donations. Shortly before moving across the street from Tory, Dr. Garrets was interrogated by police after an anonymous report claimed that he was in illegal possession of equipment, though charges were dismissed.

References

  1. ForeWord Magazine (2006-06-01). "ForeWard Magazine - Book of the Year Awards". Retrieved 2007-01-23.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. Tokyopop. "Off*beat Volume 1 - Product Info". 
  3. Tokyopop. "Off*beat Volume 2 - Product Info". 
  4. Jennifer Lee Quick (2006-06-28). "shorts". Retrieved 2006-06-28.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. Jennifer Lee Quick (2006-11-04). "offbeat early days". Retrieved 2006-11-04.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Jennifer Lee Quick (2006-07-06). "off*bits". Retrieved 2006-05-06.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. Jennifer Lee Quick (2006-07-17). "off*bits". Retrieved 2006-05-06.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

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