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I can’t help feeling that “semi autobiographical Young Adult Indie Comics” is becoming its own little mini subgenre. At the very least that’s how I would describe the collected published works of Raina Telgemeier, who apprently got her start with webcomics and is most wdely know for her debut graphic novel Smile about her own coming of age with braces. She’s also just published Sisters which is once again autobiographical and about her realtionship with her sister when they were younger. Drama, however, is a wholly fictional outing about a middle school set designer as she navigates the backstage drama (the marketing used the pun first) of a middle school musical production. Its a nice charming story with good art and it features LGBT characters and its protagonist is a woman and here, I’ll just let Gene Luen Yang explain why Raina is good and important. All of these things are good, and like I said the book itself is nice, but I look at Drama and I see something else going on. I see it opening on stage, having an overture, taking an intermission, being organized by acts, occasionally having characters sing; Drama is a musical is what I’m saying. Sure, its a graphic novel in that its a book with art that tells a story, but at its core Drama is a musical without the music and much less singing bits because, well graphic novel; and telling a story in a different medium than what that story truly is is going to be hard as well as problematic, and Drama does the best it can, but really telling a musical with a comic is only going to work so well. That being said, I still have great respect for Raina and her book because as I think back on it I see this and this and also this. Raina Telgemeier created a graphic love letter to musicals like how Into the Woods is a musical love letter to both Disney fairytales and the dark originals Disney whitewashed when turning them into movies. Or how Galaxy Quest and Ouran High School Host Club show their respective love of Star Trek and shoujo romance tropes by poking fun at and also reveling in them. And that’s something I can respect. Whatever the problems of Drama, Into the Woods, Galaxy Quest, or Ouran they’re all just unrestrained love letters that so openly and fully embrace what they like its hard to not be drawn in and at least respect such a bold declaration of love for something and eventually even coming to enjoy it yourself. So that’s why, whatever issues it may have or however much I didn’t “get” about it, I still respect and have a tiny bit of admiration for Drama.

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