by James Tynion IV, Rian Sygh & Walter Baiamonte
Any self respecting theater kid knows that techies make the world go ’round, and for the techies at the St. Genesius’s Preparatory High School, the job is much harder. What with the Tool Mice eating all the props, the constantly moving tunnels and worst of all; the snobby actors.
When Jory transfers to a private all boys school he feels like an outcast. His nervousness is palpable as he walks into the theater and it’s not helped by the over the top actors. They send him backstage to retrieve a prop and he stumbles across the stage hands–the animal loving Sasha, the no nonsense Aziz, the flirty builder Hunter and electricity loving Beckett–while they’re in the middle of a Tool Mice infestation. Jory figures out what the mice like and they get them somewhere they’ll be happy. With the prop in hand, Jory returns to the stage only to find that he doesn’t belong there, so he decides to join the Backstagers.
I know James Tynion best from his Batman/Ninja Turtles crossover (which, sidenote, was all my dreams come to life) and as one of the head writers of Batman Eternal. This is radically different from Batman and a testament to his versatility that he can do both and make it excellent. A lot have compared Backstagers to Lumberjanes because both are all ages, about extra curricular activities with a supernatural bend, have an emphasis on friendship and feature a diverse cast mostly of one gender; but those similarities are not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a very good thing. If you love Lumberjanes, you’ll adore Backstagers.
In this first issue, we spend most of our time with Jory as he tries to find a community. Everyone can relate to that feeling of “what if I don’t fit in?” and the anxiety of looking for a place to belong. He spends most of the issue in a constant state of nervousness and confusion, but once he finds the Backstagers, he proves himself clever and resourceful. The characterization for the rest of the Backstagers is strong, from the hyperactive Sasha to the geeky Beckett, none of the characters are forgettable. The standouts would have to be the lead actors, Kevin and Blake McQueen who may be snobs, but they’re dramatic, over the top snobs and absolutely hilarious.
Rian Sygh’s artwork perfectly complements the energetic humor in Tynion’s script. The faces and body language are so expressive and his rendering of the strange world of the backstage makes it seem lived in, giving it a personality of its own. Also, major props should be given to the colorist Walter Baiamonte for the eye catching pallet.
All in all Backstagers is highly recommended, especially for fans of comics like Lumberjanes and TV shows like Steven Universe. The characters are fun, the art is wonderful. It’s truly all ages, so you can read it, love it and then give it to your kid to love.