The Backstagers Vol. 1: Rebels Without Applause by James Tynion IV & Rian Sygh
This comic was marketed as “Lumberjanes for boys”, and I love Lumberjanes, so of course I wanted to read it straight away. The story centers around Jory, a new student at an all-boys private school – a fact that freaks him out not only because he’s transferring around a time where most people would have already fallen into their own cliques, but also because an all-boys school would be full of BOYS. He ends up joining the backstage crew, who immediately took him in as one of their own, and discovers that backstage is a place of very literal magic (and danger!)
I had to admit that I was just a little bit taken aback by the fantasy bits, because I was hoping for something more in the lines of Bisco Hatori’s Behind the Scenes!!, which is also a comic about a backstage crew. The fantasy elements in Backstagers does make it more similar to Lumberjanes, and the complete bizarreness of it all kind of adds to the fun. I also loved that all of the backstagers are very different in personality and body type, and are (mostly, if not all) believable characters – it’s nice to see a comic, especially one aimed at a younger audience, portray so many different ways to be a boy.
The art is cute, and I love the colouring (by Walter Baiamonte) which is perfect for the overall tone of the comic – funny, maybe a little silly/weird, with just a hint of darkness that never quite takes over. Oh, and the Veronica Fish covers! I’d buy almost anything illustrated by Veronica Fish, tbh.
The Backstagers Vol. 2: The Show Must Go On by James Tynion IV & Rian Sygh
In this volume, Jory and the other backstagers face the consequences of some of their actions in the first volume. I don’t really want to add anything that might be spoilers, so I will just say that they find out more about the magic of the backstage and the students that were said to be lost there. They meet other backstagers, and we learn a little bit more about the actors. Jory and Hunter’s romance was fleshed out – maybe somewhat rushed, to me, but still cute.
The story gets a touch darker than the previous volume, and there’s some sad/creepy stuff too. And yet! The humour still manages to balance everything out and turn this into a feel-good comic. With this series, as well as Lumberjanes, Mega Princess, Slam!, Giant Days, Goldie Vance, Mech Cadet Yu, Fence and Hi-Fi Fight Club, BOOM! Studios is now one of my favourite comic book publishers.