Studying for the ACT and SAT has become as simple as hanging out, reading some manga and listening to your iPod, thanks to some very open-minded and creative folks at test-prep giant Kaplan and Defined Mind.

Kaplan collaborated with TOKYOPOP on the recently unveiled Van Von Hunter manga series by Cleveland-based artists Ron Kaulfersch and Mike Schwark, who launched it five years ago as a Webcomic.

The three Van Von Hunter novels were rewritten to incorporate more than 300 common words teens may face on college-entrance exams, like subvert or nefarious, according to this interesting piece from the Christian Science Monitor.

Should reading manga not register on your radar as the cool thing to do, however, you can study on the sly by downloading hip-hop, R&B and rock songs created by various groups for Defined Minds' Vocabulary Accelerator program.

Reading almost any and every comic book within my grasp as a young child not only improved my vocabulary significantly -- a heartfelt thank you to Gardner Fox and Robert Kanigher -- I learned to appreciate the power with which pictures and words, skillfully blended, have on the heart and mind.

And, it's a love that burns just as brightly -- sample the eclectic work of Eddie Campbell, Paul Pope, Marisa Acocella Marchetto or Jeffrey Brown -- for me today.