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The Backstagers #1

The Backstagers, Vol. 1: Rebels Without Applause

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All the world's a stage . . . but what happens behind the curtain is pure magic literally!

When Jory transfers to an all-boys private high school, he's taken in by the only ones who don't treat him like a new kid, the lowly stage crew known as the Backstagers. Not only does he gain great, lifetime friends, Jory is also introduced to an entire magical world that lives beyond the curtain. With the unpredictable twists and turns of the underground world, the Backstagers venture into the unknown, determined to put together the best play their high school has ever seen.

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.

Collects the first four issues.

112 pages, Paperback

First published August 17, 2016

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About the author

James Tynion IV

1,192 books1,064 followers
Prior to his first professional work, Tynion was a student of Scott Snyder's at Sarah Lawrence College. A few years later, he worked as for Vertigo as Fables editor Shelly Bond's intern. In late 2011, with DC deciding to give Batman (written by Snyder) a back up feature, Tynion was brought in by request of Snyder to script the back ups he had plotted. Tynion would later do the same with the Batman Annual #1, which was also co-plotted by Snyder. Beginning in September 2012, with DC's 0 issue month for the New 52, Tynion will be writing Talon, with art by Guillem March. In early 2013 it was announced that he'd take over writing duties for Red Hood and the Outlaws in April.

Tynion is also currently one of the writers in a rotating team in the weekly Batman Eternal series.

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5 stars
1,717 (30%)
4 stars
2,271 (40%)
3 stars
1,324 (23%)
2 stars
287 (5%)
1 star
67 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 959 reviews
Profile Image for Calista.
3,803 reviews31.2k followers
May 23, 2018
I love this so MUCH! I am a musical theatre geek. I rarely think of the backstage crew and this story is all about the quirky people who help run the show. To top it all off, there is a door under the stage that leads to a place of magical theatre and you can get lost there. I love the characters, the art, the musical actors and how they are made fun of. This is perfect for me. LOVE! The only thing missing is the Lesbian Backstager.

I had so much fun with this exciting read. Anyone who did high school theatre should get a kick out of this novel. It makes so many great references.

I can't wait for the next one.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,625 reviews5,067 followers
December 20, 2021
Volume 1 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Volume 2 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Volume 3 ⭐⭐⭐💫

I think I'm officially sold for life on James Tynion IV's works. First I adored the first 2 volumes of Something is Killing the Children, and now I'm obsessed with The Backstagers. This has to be one of the cutest damn things I've ever read and I am LOVING these characters! I love each and every member of the backstage team so much and I'm totally fangirling over how casually and unapologetically QUEER this is! We've got queer babies everywhere, an adorable introverted trans boy, loads of characters of color, and even a flirty plus-sized darling who's cute as hell.

Also, the whole premise of this fantastical, vaguely creepy tunnel system under the school that constantly changes and is full of mysterious (and sometimes dangerous) creatures, where only the backstage team can go? What a dream. I want to go on adventures with these kiddos, for real. I can't say enough about how much I adored this and how excited I am to continue the series.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
December 3, 2018
How is I am the last in the house to read this first volume of a series?! Because there are three middle schoolers who have this fall been involved in a musical--two in the chorus, one backstage! The kids liked it a lot. It's the story of an all-boys school theater production, with the vain actors seen against the more grounded backstage nerds. You get to see the lights guy, the sets folks, the stage crew, all of it. And there's this magical portal fantasy element I wasn't all that into. What I was expecting/hoping for was something like Drama by Raina Telgemier, but it has this magic dimension. Also has gay/trans characters. Very cartoony wild art and action, very manic. Kind of in the Lumberjanes direction, but not as good (I thought, but the kids in the house don't make that distinction; they like both)

And yes, I was an actor in high school and a actor/backstager in college, and directed plays when I was high school teacher, so I related to some of this, and as I am seeing productions now through my kids' experiences, too.

Thanks to his teacher Scott Snyder, Tynion has largely been a Batman guy, but here he goes younger and sillier, and it works for him.
Profile Image for Chad.
7,475 reviews857 followers
November 13, 2019
I hated the art but the concept has a lot of potential. The book was kind of boring until our main character actually went backstage 2/3rds of the way through the book.

Received an advance copy from Boom! and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Alison.
548 reviews3,604 followers
February 6, 2018
I love the atmosphere of this book (magical unknown doors filled with wonders BACKSTAGE!) and the characters are awesome and there is someone for everyone to connect with. I think this story is going to be full of awesome friendships and adventures and I can't wait for more!
Profile Image for Mir.
4,842 reviews5,003 followers
July 19, 2019
This was fun and imaginative. You do need some suspension of disbelief -- not so much for the whole "hidden dimension of freakiness in the basement" which all fantasy readers are accustomed to, but for the ongoing hazards these kids are facing for the sake of supporting the theater department, who are all narcissistic asshats. And Sasha, why is Sasha even there? Does he do anything useful, ever?

The art is cute, although I would much prefer if it looked like the more realistic cover, which is by Veronica Fish. The interior illustration is more cartoonish. Think Rick and Morty.
Profile Image for Maria.
564 reviews354 followers
April 2, 2017

*Note: The first issue of The Backstagers by James Tynion IV was provided to me via NetGalley through the publisher Boom! Box. This does not effect my opinion in any way.


Well wasn’t that just fun and adorable. I don’t remember the last time I read something so happy and colourful. I know, I have no soul apparently. Anyways, this was just a refreshing and unique read compared to what I’m used to and I absolutely loved reading it! I read it as individual issues and it was so hard to be patient and wait a month for each new issue! I’m not sure if this story is continuing or if it was a stand alone graphic novel, but I’m already itching for more!


What I Liked

The story. It was fun and refreshing and terribly cute. I love the idea of a story about the stage crew rather than the actual actors/drama group on stage. I mean, we all know the crew has more fun right?

The adventure. Not only was it super cute and refreshing, but it was jam packed full of adventure. Not just your regular everyday adventure either. Oh no, this was magical and eccentric and all kinds of amazing.

The diversity. There is just so much representation throughout this entire series. It’s one big giant LGBTQIA+ love fest and I loved every minute of it.

The colours. This is probably one of the most colourful and vibrant comics I have ever read! Totally not anything like the dark and dreary stuff I usually read. It was a nice change for me to read something so bright!

The characters. I loved each and every single on of them. Each member of the stage crew is unique and I loved them all for very different reasons.


What I Didn’t Like

A little juvenile. As mentioned, I usually read comics that are a little more dark and depressing, so I’m not sure if it was because this story was so happy and cute, but it did feel a little too juvenile at times for my tastes.


Overall, this was everything that I needed in a comic at the moment. It was completely out of my norm in terms of comics that I tend to drift toward and I’m so glad that I decided to take the chance and try something new! This was cute, fun and all kind of adorable.
Profile Image for mina reads™️.
521 reviews6,574 followers
March 2, 2019
The Backstagers is about a black teen named Jory who joins stage crew at school at his new school and discovers the magical labyrinth that is the backstage. Literally. It’s magical with moving tunnels (think hp staircases) Ahhh it’s so cool and cute!

The characters are absolutely adorable and there’s a cute little crush/romance brewing between two of the stage crew boys. Ugh so good. I really recommend this for someone looking for something light, fun and compulsively readable. It’s all about fun, and friendship, so much sweetness I’m getting a cavity talking about it.

I’ve seen some reviews say it’s very “young” but I mean...it’s about teen boys in high school lots of whom are freshmen or sophomores aka kids. So I’m not sure what those people were expecting but forewarning the protags are young teens!!! Don’t go in expecting some deep, pivotal storyline it’s just a really fun romp with a ending that left me super hyped to read the next volume!!!!!
Profile Image for Sylwia.
1,133 reviews27 followers
July 1, 2018
Why I Recommend Bumping This UP On Your TBR:
I LOVED THIS SO MUCH! This contains: a hot guy being fat and most likely attracted to men, at least two protagonists of color, and men being allowed to experience all sorts of emotions. I love all of the protagonists, by the way! This also highlights healthy communication and conflict resolution between friends. Aside from all, it's an exciting fantasy setting for fans of Gravity Falls and any other supernatural-stuff-hidden-in-the-real-world types of stories. Even though the issues each have a different conflict, the stories don't follow any formula and are each resolved differently and follow a main plot and there are even subplots! I'm looking forward to the second volume very much to see what happens next and to get to enjoy these characters and this setting more!
Profile Image for Jasmine.
Author 1 book132 followers
March 28, 2018
Very good, very gay, very like Lumberjanes. With boys. After school. With more crying.

Also the McQueens are trash and need to be put in a very small box.
Profile Image for Skye Kilaen.
Author 16 books294 followers
February 7, 2019
Diverse, deeply caring series about a group of boys in a private high school who work backstage in the theater. It so happens that said backstage isn't exactly normal. New kid Jory finds a world of magic there, but more importantly, a world of friendship. This series allows its boys and young men to be full people with a full range of emotions, and that is such a powerful thing in a culture of toxic masculinity. Hat off to all the creators for making this gentle, safe space for all these characters and and any readers who desperately need that as well.
Profile Image for Diz.
1,535 reviews85 followers
May 25, 2018
I wasn't a big fan of the mystical portal part of this story. The reason was that the characters weren't consistent in their interactions with it. In one scene they would talk about how dangerous it was and then a few scenes later they would casually walk in there to get supplies. I did like the parts that focused on the character interactions in the drama club. Perhaps I would have enjoyed this more if the fantasy elements were taken out and it was just about drama club.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,040 followers
March 24, 2019
Another recommendation from Bianca on Episode 145 - awkward teens unite in the group of students working backstage, in the way that diverse and unique teens are always stronger together and find one another. There is also an entire secret world with changing hallways and tiny creatures, allowing for many exciting adventures.
Profile Image for Grace Arango (G-Swizzel Books).
1,170 reviews650 followers
January 9, 2019
The art is AMAZING!
The concept is so cool. I'm still getting the hang of comic books which are not action heavy or have a distinct focus on sci-fi/superheroes, so something like this is out of my comfort zone. For me this is more like a breakaway read, and I liked it.
Profile Image for Emma.
899 reviews869 followers
August 15, 2019
3.5 Stars

I'm so happy I finally got the chance to read this comic book! I think that this volume did a lot of groundwork that is probably going to evolve into the main storyline of the second one and let me tell you, I cannot wait to discover the mystery that the backstage has to offer. I think that the backstage concept with all its rooms and creatures is very interesting and I'm really looking forward to reading more about it.
Profile Image for Holly.
70 reviews16 followers
March 18, 2019
So this graphic novel was charming. That’s the first adjective that pops into my head. I went into this blind and was pleasantly surprised with the plot. The art style is gorgeous, the colours (oh my god) and how they get more pink for crushes is so sweet. Overall this was a charmingly, surprise read!
Profile Image for Kadi P.
755 reviews94 followers
March 22, 2020
Mediocre. So “cute” I want to throw up and there was next to no substance or plot. Every emotion was an extreme hyperbole of what emotions are and the dangerousness of the backstage rooms/tunnel was a facade that couldn’t be delivered.

Perhaps most infuriatingly, no real answers were given as to what the hell the tunnel was and this wouldn’t have been a problem if Jory hadn’t spent a whole issue asking questions about it. Why create the intrigue and then not supply even half a real answer?

Surprisingly, the ending page left me a little intrigued but I’ve learnt to identify this comic technique by this point. This is a classic case of what I like to call “the drag and click bait”: every issue drags out the questions to create intense suspense and then the last issue ends on a mysterious note that suggests the next issue will hold all the answers but it usually doesn’t. And so I won’t be bothering with the next volume, there’re far better books and comics to be spending my time reading.
Profile Image for Alex.
609 reviews66 followers
July 2, 2018

This was a really fun graphic novel about the kids working backstage at a high school theatre. It's an all-boys school, and it has at least four queer guys (+ a really cool girl who doesn't go there but appears in the plays). Also, asshole rich privileged actor kids. Oh, and magic tunnels.

but okay seriously how can you end it like that
Profile Image for Rod Brown.
5,128 reviews171 followers
May 27, 2018
When I cracked the cover on this, I was expecting a slice-of-life story about high school theater a la Drama. I was unprepared for the fantasy elements, and once they were introduced I was too thrown off to really get into the story. It didn't help that the characters didn't seem to have much personality beyond their diversity and quirk check boxes. And in spite of the inclusivity, there were no female characters for much of the book, but I suppose that could be expected of a story set in an all-boys school. Though I'm at a loss as to why it has to be an all-boys school as religion seems to play no role in this seemingly nonsecular setting.

There is a certain charm to the book, especially due to the super-cutesy chibi-esque Sasha character, but I just wasn't in the right frame of mind to appreciate it.
Profile Image for Shannon Appelcline.
Author 22 books135 followers
November 15, 2020
Read the first issue of this. It was such a chaotic and unappealing mess that I put the rest of the TPB back unread.

Student goes to join drama club, but ends up working with backstage crew instead. It's all totally over the top. The characters are caricatures. There are random fantasy elements that seem overly-cute/generic/cliched. No one blinks at them. There's not much else, and there's definitely nothing to maintain interest.
Profile Image for Madi.
629 reviews741 followers
April 18, 2018
If you are/were a theater kid of any sort read this book!
Profile Image for Erica ♋️✨.
476 reviews78 followers
September 10, 2021
This was so freaking cute 🥰 i love all these characters to pieces i can’t wait to read volume 2 & 3
Profile Image for Sheilah.
199 reviews1 follower
February 6, 2017
I have always had a love for graphic novels, but I have to enjoy the art style. Even if the story is amazing, it won't hook me unless the pictures speak to my creative soul.

I liked the looks of this graphic novel from the start. It was colorful and had a teenage quality that fit the synopsis. It revolves around a new kid at school named Jory. The story follows him on his first day as he tries to find a place he can fit in. What I liked most about this story is that it took an awkward, self-conscious teen and gave him a home with the stage crew kids that are often overlooked. It reminded me of my own high school years and the different places kids gravitated towards.

This is a story written for the geeky kids, the kids who are maybe not the most popular, the ones who find families in friends that are a bit awkward like themselves.

The story was vibrant and magical and catered to the often overshadowed kids. I thought it was a truly beautiful little tale.

Profile Image for Colona Public Library.
1,062 reviews20 followers
October 19, 2017
Taking theater in high school and volunteering with community theater when I was graduated this is basically as magical and mysterious the theater felt to me! There is just something special about being a part of a production, it's a world of it's own that end when the curtain closes but will stick with you forever. (I gave it an extra star for appealing to my thespian nature.) The story is just getting started so it is a little slow. They want to establish the world and characters first. The art work in here is really great and the colors are gorgeous. I'm looking forward to the next issue. ~Ashley

If you liked this I really think you will like Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy
Displaying 1 - 30 of 959 reviews

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