Review: Backstagers volume 1

Title: Backstagers vol 1
Author: James Tynion IV
Illustrator: Rian Sygh
Publisher: BOOM!
Publication Date: July 19, 2017

Plot Synopses (from publisher): James Tynion IV (Detective Comics, The Woods) teams up with artist Rian Sygh (Munchkin, Stolen Forest) for an incredibly earnest story that explores what it means to find a place to fit in when you’re kinda an outcast. When Jory transfers to an all-boys private high school, he’s taken in by the lowly stage crew known as the Backstagers. Hunter, Aziz, Sasha, and Beckett become his new best friends and introduce him to an entire magical world that lives beyond the curtain that the rest of the school doesn’t know about, filled with strange creatures, changing hallways, and a decades-old legend of a backstage crew that went missing and was never found. Collects the first four issues. “With heart and chutzpah to spare, [The Backstagers] soars as a sincere love letter to the unsung heroes of the theater world.” – Newsarama

Overall rating: 3.5/5


Spoilers below

Main themes/tropes: outsiders, new on the scene, found family

Plot: As someone who did a lot of backstage work in high school, I’ve been looking forward to reading this for a while. At first I was disappointed when I realized it wouldn’t even try to incorporate realism, but the weirdness definitely grew on me. The hook into the second volume is interesting enough to keep readers going straight to that volume (it came out recently!)

Characters: Jory’s adorable and an excellent choice for the introductory character/audience stand-in. All of the characters are well-formed enough that by the end of the volume was able to 1) remember their names, and 2) know something about them, except for Aziz, whi seemed to be left behind in all the major plot points. I struggled with Sasha a lot, because that kind of infantile character always drives me up the wall (see also: Lumberjanes) but the group is cohesive enough that by the end of it I had not quite come around, but was convinced the group would be less compelling without him.

Spiders, though. Why does it always have to be giant spiders?

Art: The art is vibrant and interesting, with each character (besides the McQueens, of course) having a very different look. The panels are full but not overcrowded.

5 Reasons to read it:

  • Jory is adorable. Seriously.
  • Low-key fantasy elements and weirdness, but the real focus is on the characters.
  • The technical elements of working backstage on a production are simplified but still really present – if you have an interest in such thing, you’d appreciate this
  • The tunnels are legitimately creepy
  • The found family theme is particularly strong.