Black Mask Studios 2018
Created, Written & Illustrated by Fabian Lelay
Coloured by Claudia Aguirre
Lettered by Taylor Esposito
Letter Assists by Jay Castro
Starting as the new girl in your senior year of high school is never easy, and Julie Malliari is having a terrible first day -- until she meets Tabitha. After a night out at a rock show, their friendship quickly grows and, before they know it, the two form a band with their sights set on a record deal... they just need to win it in a nationwide Battle of the Bands competition. With Tabitha's rival keen to take the prize for herself, it's a battle not to be missed…
I am never sure what I am going to get from Black Mask but I always enjoy it. This one while it centres on a the new girl and her friendship with Tabitha it also highly reminds me of the original Josie and the Pussycats. Maybe it’s the overall vibe and the dialogue and characterisation of what we see as the story progresses I dunno but I do know that it is fun, sweet and interesting. Fabian manages to make this so completely modern with the characters he creates and introduces to us and while it almost gives off an all-ages feel it really isn’t, Teen and up yeah sure.
I like the way this book is structured and right from the get-go we are drawn into the story nicely and if your like me you’ve been somewhere that that X means underage at a bar. Intrigued by the way we see Julie at the bar texting to see where her new friend is while the bartender gives off that knowing look, poor thing stood up look, until suddenly she realises what the texts mean and she meets a boy! It really has a nice kind of slice of life feel to it and I remember my days of local bands and national tours from so-called underground artists, now the soundtrack in my head consists of Butthole Surfers, The Dead Milkmen and the Dead Kennedy’s, during my teenage years and this is something just about everyone should be able to relate to.
Fabian creates a wonderful ebb & flow to the story and even the backstory about how Julie and Tabitha meet which leads right up to the bar yeah it all flows. Actually that two page spread is so spot on and gives us so much information, much of which we already knew about since being the new kid is never easy, so we have a better understanding of how excited Julie is to make a friend like Tabitha. That she was happy to meet a boy made me happy because it’s nice to see a straight girl for a change heh. Though a gay male couple would’ve been nice.
The interior artwork really is an all-ages style and it’s quite lovely. I like the fashion sense that we see it’s completely modern and hip, if that’s still a word people use. The utilisation of page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels shows a solid eye for storytelling. While I would like to see more backgrounds being utilised at least they aren’t stark white. I am actually rather impressed with the work being done here from the linework to the colours it all has this delightful effect and feels right.
The way that a new band is formed and how we see them all come together as well as learning how the mean girl Logan feels about all this well suddenly We Are The Danger is formed and is out to make a name for themselves despite whatever bullying attempts Logan is going to make. This is cute, fun and feels like what we want in a modern take on Josie and the Pussycats or Jem and the Holograms which is the genre this finds itself in.