A shy boy tries to branch out at his new school and finds out that drama club and stage magic have some real meanings at St. Genesius High School. Is it good?
Backstagers #1 (BOOM! Studios)
Jory is a shy new kid, at his first all-boys school and forced to stay there after hours since his mom is working late at her new job. As much as he’d like to hide in the bushes and sketch for hours, he ventures to try something new: drama club.
The kings of the actors send him backstage to find a prop and when he finally finds the crew and backstage area, he discovers St. Genesius school has a LOT more happening behind the scenes than he ever imagined.
It Is Good?
I will admit right at the outset that I am biased towards wanting to like this book. I’ve been a theater kid since 6th grade and it shaped the person I am today. So a book set in high school theater? Right up my alley. And luckily, it not only lived up to my expectations, but it is truly delightful.
Coming from BOOM!, it’s hard not to make comparisons to Lumberjanes, and in a lot of ways Backstagers is kind of a male counterpart to that book. On the surface there are a lot of similarities: a same-sex environment, set in our normal world but where supernatural things happen, and a diverse and exuberant cast of characters are generally on their own to have their adventures. And I don’t think those similarities are a bad thing at all; having more all ages books that feature diverse characters without it being ABOUT their diversity, that are fun and high energy and engaging is nothing but good.
It helps that both the writing and art are excellent and fits the all-ages audience perfectly – the third panel of the book features an excellent fart joke:
All the characters are distinct and I liked how they all have their own style and speech, while still filling the types of folks you would find both onstage and off in a theater. Tynion does a great job of creating a first issue that doesn’t feel like an introduction, but still lays out the world and characters within a contained story.
I really like how Sygh infuses the book with comic, anime, and cartoon styles, a dash of Steven Universe with a dollop of Avatar: TLA, topped with a soupcan of Peanuts. I love the variety of shapes and sizes in the characters, and the different panel layouts and bursts of action. All this is enhanced by Walter Baiamonte’s candy pop colors.
This book is also a love letter to theater. From the musical theater jokes (great Les Mis joke on page 7) to the age-old attitudes of actors vs stage techs, these guys know the theater world and make it fun both for those of us in the know and newcomers to this crazy, awesome world. I wouldn’t be surprised if drama clubs have a surge in kids wanting to work backstage after reading this book. My favorite touches are the diva brothers who rule the actors; their massive over-acting and dramatics are too perfect.
This book is a fantastic addition to the BOOM! Box imprint and I think a lot of folks of all different ages will enjoy it as much as I did. Definitely onboard to see where this book is going to go (and now I want a tool mouse, dang it).
And no, I could not end this review without acknowledging the perfect variant cover for the introductory issue. This team is not throwing away their shot! I need this as a print.