cover image The Backstagers Vol. 1

The Backstagers Vol. 1

James Tynion IV, illus. by Rian Sygh. Boom Box, $14.99 trade paper (112p) ISBN 9

In a comic that’s essentially Lumberjanes for queer theater-tech types, with some of the cosmic weirdness of Steven Universe mixed in, Tynion (The Woods) and Sygh (Munchkin) take readers to St. Genesius, a private high school for boys with a highly unusual theater department. New student Jory reluctantly gives drama club a shot, but he quickly realizes that he’s more at home with the stage crew: cherubic Sasha, no-nonsense Aziz, crotchety light board operator Beckett, and burly builder Hunter, who blushes every time Jory is nearby. (The atmosphere at St. Genesius is so rife with sexual tension that characters nervously blush on virtually every page.) Romantic possibilities aside, there’s something seriously strange going on in the vast, ever-changing labyrinth of rooms and tunnels beneath the school, full of bizarre creatures, rope bridges leading to parts unknown, and (possibly) long-lost techies who vanished decades ago. Sygh captures the story’s interpersonal and supernatural dramas in lush, manga-inflected scenes. Brimming with feeling and featuring a diverse cast (including a trans character, Beckett), it’s an effervescently entertaining story of finding community (and maybe love) in unlikely, even impossible places. Ages 12–up. (July)