When I was little, I wanted to be a Jem Girl. More than twenty years and a new IDW comic reboot series later I still want to be a Jem Girl.
Unlike the recent movie adaptation - which annihilated everything that made the cartoon series amazing and upset William Shatner - this new comic series understands both the heart and soul of the original franchise and how to update it for a modern audience. Or in my case, the original audience all grown up.
The new series does away with some of the more outlandish aspects of the series (and I am saying that knowing the premise is a rock band aided by a hologram-projecting AI in some 80s glam Tony Stark/Iron Man & JARVIS AU), instead reimagining them where needed. Jerrica is no longer the owner of a record company and fighting to keep it: she and the band are up-and-coming artists looking to gain recognition and a record deal in a battle of the bands contest with The Misfits (there's no Eric Raymond in this volume, meaning The Misfits and their crew are the sole antagonists). Similarly, the Starlight Girls no longer live in the mansion with the Holograms; they are underprivileged girls assisted by the Starlight Foundation, and the Holograms volunteer and help raise funds for the Foundation. All in all it's a sleek updating that really works.
(Especially since the "love-triangle-for-two" element of the show seems to have been dropped. Instead, Rio is concerned for Jerrica and the band as Jem doesn't seem to be pulling her weight, leaving everything up to Jerrica.)
The plot itself is a fairly standard one, and takes a lot of its cues from the first few episodes of the show: it introduces the girls and their main problem - all are talented, but their lead singer gets extreme stage fright, and if nothing can be done they won't be able to enter the MISFITS VS! and battle the band for a recording contract. Enter Synergy, the holographic creation of their girls' late father, who can digitally whip up an alter-ego for Jerrica as well as some amazing music videos. Soon the star of Jem and the Holograms is rising - too fast for The Misfits, who are determined not to lose their own contest. Add in family life, a little romance and you have a grand first volume that is only the beginning...
The art in this series is gorgeous, like, knock-out gorgeous. The colour palette explodes from the page and characters are just as vibrant and expressive. I'll admit I had some concerns how a comic would translate a fundamental part of the show - its music - into a medium without sound. (For those unfamiliar with the show, it would constantly cut to short, in-universe (sort of) music videos that both informed and enhanced what was going on. See "I've Got My Eye On You", "Who Is He Kissing?" and "Makin' Mischief".) But Campbell's art creates a dreamlike/real-unreal sort of atmosphere, much like the original music videos, with lyrics swirling around to give you an inkling of the sound. It's extremely well done.
Plus, Kimber's hair is ridiculously gorgeous. Like, wow.
Like many cartoons of the 80s and early 90s, Jem and the Holograms had a commitment to ethnic and racial diversity, and it's comic reimagining continues that tradition. In the Holograms Aja is Asian-American, Shana African-American, while love interest Rio is Latino and Starlight child Ba Nee is Vietnamese-American.
Kimber and Stormer's friendship has been upgraded to a romantic relationship, and the creative team have confirmed that both characters are gay.
The original cartoon was very standard in its body types - or rather, type. Now female characters run from tall and skinny Kimber to short and curvy Stormer and everything in between.
And, finally and very importantly, artist Sophie Campbell is trans.
If you were a fan of the 80s cartoon and haven't picked this up, you need to go do so right now. You will not be disappointed. Those of you who haven't seen the show, no worries: you don't have to have that background, and it's perfectly readable without it. (Although you still should check out the show.).
Overall, Jem and the Holograms: Showtime is an amazing start to a new series, staying true to the spirit of its past life while firmly knowing its own identity. This is the kind of book a reboot/reimagining ought to be. It's truly outrageous!...more
I was never a fan of Girls Next Door, and what little I knew of Playboy and Hugh Hefner were pop culture references and the stumbled-upon article abouI was never a fan of Girls Next Door, and what little I knew of Playboy and Hugh Hefner were pop culture references and the stumbled-upon article about Hefner's skeeviness with his girlfriends.
But after hearing good things about this memoir by GND star Holly Madison I decided to pick it up. What I got was a fascinating look into another world. Madison/her collaborator write with a funny, friendly voice that keeps true to it in both the light and dark moments. And there are dark moments: lots of abuse by Hefner to Holly and the other girls, as well as between the girls themselves.
I highly recommend it for those who like to read memoirs or who want to look deeper into this world. Just note trigger warnings for emotional abuse and dubious consent....more