Finally, the drama kids get their own graphic novel! Raina Telgemeier, who captured the orthodontia experience in Smile, now gives us Drama, a graphic novel with an appealing cast of characters; crisp, colorful drawings; and a compelling, entertaining storyline.
Callie, the main character, is an eighth-grader and a set designer. She is a great role model as she researches her options, solves problems responsibly, deals with all people respectfully even when frustrated, and proudly proclaims herself as a drama club kid. A lot of real drama club kids will relate to Callie and her friends.
The plot centers around the production of a school musical and also involves various romantic entanglements among the cast. Callie has a crush on a baseball player who is still infatuated with his ex-girlfriend who is now smitten with a member of the musical cast. Callie becomes friends with twin brothers Jesse and Justin, one of whom is gay. The brothers also try to find their niche in the musical production, along with dates for the upcoming school dance.
Drama readers will empathize with all aspects of a school production: the faculty director and student assistant director, backstage crews, auditions and casting, overly scheduled school auditorium spaces, and struggling to stay plugged in academically while immersed in a production.
Some of Drama’s most effective moments are when Raina Telegemeier takes us just outside the storyline. A particularly effective scene is when Callie and Jesse are looking at a big book of set designs and we suddenly see them inside the book. Telegemeier also nicely handles a flashback to when Callie first catches the theater bug.
Maybe all of the couples in Drama are meant to reflect what happens in musical theater scripts, but I’m not sure that 8th-graders, straight or gay, pair off romantically as much as the characters here seem to do. That note of inauthenticity aside, Drama should be one of this fall’s most popular graphic novel titles. Look for it from Graphix on September 1, 2012.