Thursday, August 18, 2016

Review - The Backstagers #1 (@boomstudios)


"Boys are scary, and they fart a bunch."

High school is more of a rite of passage than it honestly should be. Some students become friends while others make life difficult, all while everyone is trying to get an education. The distinction between cool and not cool is bolder in clubs with Drama club especially boasting its own sort of elitism. Such elitism is the catalyst for The Backstagers #1 BOOM! Box. The issue is written by James Tynion IV, illustrated by Ryan Sygh, colored by Walter Baiamonte and lettered by Jim Campbell.

When Jory transfers to the private, all-boys school St. Genesius, he figures joining the stage crew would involve a lot of just fetching props and getting splinters. To his pleasant surprise, he discovers there’s a door backstage that leads to different worlds, and all of the stagehands know about it! All the world’s a stage...but what happens behind the curtain is pure magic!

The tone in The Backstagers #1 starts off amusing and just keeps getting more entertaining from there. Tynion IV uses Jory as the primary point of view for the tale, following him as he learns about the mysteries that accompany being a stagehand. There's a very clear divide between worlds as the actors inhabit a world full of pomp and reputation while the stagehands live in a world full of magic. It's a solid dichotomy that Tynion IV relies on to propel the narrative, imbuing the book with some pretty imaginative takes on being a student in school. His dialogue offers enjoyable back and forths between characters that buttress the magic/non-magic narrative and the characters play their parts very convincingly.

Sygh's illustrations are comical in a way that provides a visual flair to the notion of magic happenings behind the stage behind the curtain. Jory and the other characters all boast exaggerated emotional responses to events, underscoring the somewhat whimsical nature of the book. Backgrounds are pretty simplistic as Sygh really wants the characters to stand front and center in the panels and Sygh's panels are pretty simplistic. Sygh really offers a very imaginative take on what really happens backstage that often gets overshadowed by the action/actors on stage. Baiamonte's colors add even more wonder, relying on bright and vivid colors for the strange happenings.

The Backstagers #1 is a pretty enjoyable jaunt through high school that looks at a group akin to an AV Club. Jory is a little reluctant at his new school, but finding out what happens behind the scenes is enough to convince him that maybe things won't be that bad. Tynion IV's script is thoroughly entertaining and moves very briskly as Jory uncovers the hidden world. The artwork by Sygh has an airiness to it that reminds the reader it doesn't take itself too seriously--much like the story itself. The Backstagers #1 is a lot of fun and suggests that readers have as much fun as the Backstagers do.

The Backstagers #1 is in stores now.

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