The Backstagers #1
Written by: James Tynion IV
Illustrator: Rian Sygh
Colors: Walter Baiamonte
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Boom Box
Review by Gregory Brothers
One thing that I can’t stand is when people tell me that they do not read comics because they are all about superheroes fighting each other. Anyone who has even been to a comic book store or looked at the offerings each month can tell you that Superhero comics is just a percentage of what comes out every month. One of those imprints that has been doing a great job as of late bringing new and unique characters and books out to the public is Boom! and their Boom! Box imprint.
The Backstagers #1 is the first in a new all-ages series by writer James Tynion IV and artist Rian Sygh about people trying to find their place in the world when they feel like they do not belong anywhere. We are first introduced to Jory, who as the new kid at a new school is in a situation where many people have found themselves of being scared to meet new people while trying to find their own niche. Through some encouragement he does find his way to the Drama club meeting which is where his adventure begins. Anyone who has ever been part of a theater production or been around the theater in general can tell you that the backstage area is one that can be a little scary, mysterious, and intimidating. Tynion plays up all of these ideas in the setting of the The Backstagers with a area that touches on the scary and intimidating, while playing up the mysteries of what happens backstage. In the end after a short adventure introduces the rest of the cast we get the idea that even more mysteries will be coming their way before this limited series comes to an end.
One of the high points of this book is the diversity of the cast of characters. We get students who are of different ethnicities, sexual preference, and body types. We get students who are problem solvers, tech wizards, and builders. You name something unique about yourself and you will more than likely be able to find a character that you are able to relate to within The Backstagers. Jory is the main focus of this first issue as it is his desire to find a place that he fits in that introduces us to the rest of the group. As he meets the different members of the group we begin to understand that these students do not dwell on the differences that they each have but instead focus on working together to get their job done. The fact that the actors on the other side of the curtain barely notice them at all much less if they are different works to make the group more inclusive of anyone who makes their way to the backstage side. Tynion does an excellent job introducing each of these characters in a way that you understand what makes them unique but does not bog the script down with needless dialogue explaining their differences. In the end you understand the core to each character while leaving plenty of room for growth in future issues.
The art is whimsical and colorful throughout the panels and works perfectly with the feel of the book. The odd shaped panels and use of colors and objects within the gutters between adds to the idea of the mystery that is the backstage area. It makes it feel at times as if the characters and the readers are running through a giant funhouse. The diversity of the cast is just added to buy the way that they are presented throughout. No character looks the same and the personality that comes out in their talking is just enhanced by the art.
Buy! The Backstagers is one of those all ages book that tries to find a way to include a diverse cast also. It does it in a way that does not feel as if it is being force but is natural. Anyone who has ever felt out of place or as if they do not belong will find the core of this story very familiar. The addition of the mystery of the backstage area adds to the fun factor within this book. Pick it up, enjoy the great story telling and the wonderful art.