Publisher: BOOM! Box
So another year has passed and somehow it is already December. In a matter of weeks we will be saying goodbye to 2016 and hello to a brand new year. And what better way to ring in a new year than with a BOOM! Box Mix Tape. The third annual mix tape from the publisher BOOM! Box sees a collection of short stories, some from series being published and others that are complete original content that you can’t find anywhere else other than in the mix tape. With a common theme of music tying the stories altogether the BOOM! Box mix tape of 2016 has a lot of laughs, some heart warming moments and a whole lot of charm tied up in one adorable package.
Giant Days: Music is Important
Writer & Illustrator: John Allison
The mix tape starts off with bang by jumping us head first in to a Giant Days story line. We find the three university friends coming together in a time of need for a friend. His band is performing soon and the opening act has dropped out and he needs someone to open for them short notice. What could possibly go wrong? Focusing on the three friends’ different tastes and experiences in music we find that spontaneously putting a band together isn’t the easiest task, but when a friend is in need these girls pull together. Giant Days is missing some of its visual charm than usual in this issue, perhaps to do with the fact that Allison doesn’t normally do the art for the main series.
by Steffan Tosheff
I absolutely loved Tour Life – hands down my favourite of the whole Mix Tape. It’s a short one, with not much in the way of immediate story, relying mainly on the visuals, and those visuals are amazing. It follows a young woman as she travels round on the road with her band and the emotions she feels during it. It just looks stunning and the way it’s shaped gives it a real intimate feeling. It’s one that might be lost on the younger audience that may be drawn to this comic, but it’s got such a strong emotion to it.
by Sammy Borras
What kind of annual would be complete with out some sort of puzzle and a few games? Puzzle Fest is a short story about some friends at a music festival that is filled with visual puzzles such as mazes, decoding puzzles and the usual sort of thing found in annuals. The art is okay; it isn’t anything that stands out too well in this assortment of stories, though some of the fun can come from looking at the backgrounds and the characters in them, each panel does have a lot going on.
Backstagers: The Pits
Writer: James Tynion IV
Illustrator: Rian Sygh
I’ll confess that this happens to be my first experience of the Backstagers so I don’t really know too much about the story other than it involves backstage crew of an all-boys school and magic. What I can tell you from this issue though is it seems to be one of the cutest little comics in this Mix Tape, again following a music theme like the rest. The art in this one seems to be a bit on the weird side with characters seeming to look completely different from one panel to the next on a few occasions, other than that though it’s got a nice happy tone to it and make for easy, light reading.
Lumberjanes: Band Camp
Writer: Shannon Watters
Illustrator: Ayme Sotuyo
The award-winning Lumberjanes also make an appearance in this Mix Tape, and as you can tell from the title, it too follows a band theme. This time two of the Lumberjanes want to earn a new scout badge, the Band badge. All in all Lumberjanes is probably the best put together comic in the collection. Its story has good pacing with a strong message on tolerance and acceptance, with a lot of strong visual gags and solid art. Even if you know nothing of Lumberjanes it is super easy to follow and get into.
by Sina Grace
B Minor, much like Road Trip, is another one of those more mature comics following the story of a young man trying to get better at music. The story’s exposition is told to the reader entirely via text messages, I had to read B minor a few times to get in and by the end I’m still not 100% on what exactly this comic is trying to say or achieve. It does have one of the more unique and interesting visual styles though and compared to the other comics it is a lot more muted and darker making it really stick out.
Slam!: Fresh Meat
Writer: Pamela Ribon
Illustrator: Veronica Fish
Perhaps the only story in the Mix Tape not to have any musical influences, it was perhaps hard to properly structure it with Slam! being such a new series. We do get a few terminology references that seem to be both roller derby-based and music-based, so perhaps the puns are the connection. What Slam does bring though is a good teaser into what the comic series is actually like, which is probably for the best for a new series that has just started.
Goldie Vance: Change of Tune
Writer: Ngozi Ukazu
Illustrator: Olivia Margraf
Colours: Eleeza Mei
While I said that Road Trip was my favourite, Goldie Vance is a close contender and is great for different reasons. The art in this story is nothing short of amazing. The characters are so well detailed and not just artistically but even in this short story we see such a good rapport between the two friends they really spring from the page. I had heard of Goldie Vance in passing but this little short made me want more and has made it a series I am going to be keeping an eye out for now.
There were a few other shorts that should get a mention in this as well, Anna Strain’s Holiday Cards, Musical Tattoo Flash by Adam X Vass and Love Notes by Sam Davies. The only reason I didn’t go into a lot of detail on these ones is they are so short that talking about them could spoil them and I wanted to avoid spoilers in this review so when you read it you get the full experience. If you are looking for something fun and easy, or maybe a stocking filler for someone this comic is perfect. Each story is short, there is something for all ages but none of them are too adult or too childish. BOOM! Box Mix Tape 2016 is such a fun little comic that I implore you to go read it. It is pure, feel-good reading and sometimes we just need a little happiness in our lives.