"The Backstagers: Halloween Intermission #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by James Tynion IV
Illustrated by Rian Sygh
Colored by Walter Baiamonte
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Backup stories written by Sam Johns and illustrated by Savanna Ganucheau, Shan Murphy, and Abby Howard
2018, 40 Pages,
Comic released on October 24th, 2018
The theater program at St. Genesius Prepatory High School already has its fair share of magical and supernatural elements. Having a door to an alternate dimension full of assorted monsters and mayhem will do that. What happens on Halloween though? The spookiest night of the year is sure to bring all manner of paranormal insanity, right? Well, no one but the stage managers know for sure, but they'll be forced to share that with the other students if they hope to survive the night.
The Backstagers perfectly captures that wide-eyed feeling of hope and naiveté that comes from being a kid. While these students are in high school, they're not jaded or sarcastic. They can still experience wonder in the world, which makes the possibilities of this place so special, not to mention what could happen on Halloween. Literally anything can happen, including a giant monster.
Yes, we get a big monster in The Backstagers: Halloween Intermission. Writer James Tynion IV creates a pretty solid origin story for this creature, tying it back to the overall history of this place and the characters themselves. It's just more to add to the impressive mythos that has been built around this series.
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Artist Rian Sygh's design for this monster really stands out, as it as it creates a juxtaposition against the cartoonish nature of the human characters and their world. This thing looks like it was ripped right out of a nightmare. It's drawn with an impressive amount of detail highlighting all of the hideous features from its extra legs to its sharp teeth to...actually, I don't know what those are. Tentacles, maybe? It creates an overall creepy package.
Whereas everything else in the world of The Backstagers is bright and vibrant, this creature is the polar opposite. Colorist Walter Baiamonte plays up the greys and dark blues of its hide, portraying it as the antithesis of everything these kids stand for. It's here to suck the very life from their bones.
There's a definite message in The Backstagers: Halloween Intermission and it comes from an unexpected source. This isn't a heavy-handed approach. Instead, the pure innocent character, Sasha drops some knowledge on the monster and the other students that really puts things in perspective. The poor kid is a little traumatized by Halloween and people that have fake faces, but that's something he'll get over with time.
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It's pretty fun to see this little kid stand up to such a giant monster. It makes for a real David and Goliath matchup with a hilarious conclusion. The creators control the tension of the scene, flipping it from nail-biting fright to solid belly laughs at a moment's notice.
You can't escape the humor in The Backstagers, nor would you want to. It's an inherently fun comic. This even comes through in the words themselves. Letterer Jim Campbell uses a softer, lighter font that lends itself to the characters and their world. It also helps to lull you into a false sense of security before that creepy bug monster jumps in.
Also included in this oversized one-shot are three short stories written by Sam Johns. They feature the some of the same characters in different scary situations. They're all pretty fun and help show that horror can be injected into just about any story if given the opportunity.
The Backstagers: Halloween Intermission isn't going to give you any nightmares any time soon, but it does serve as a solid and spooky holiday tie-in. It works like a Halloween episode of a sitcom with the same flow and humor throughout. I really hope this becomes a yearly tradition not only with The Backstagers, but with other comics as well.