If you aren’t already reading Vancouver-based cartoonist and designer Kathleen Jacques’s queer femme Band Vs. Band comics series, you are SERIOUSLY missing out. Let me help you rectify that situation. This review is of Band Vs. Band Comix, Volume 2; it you aren’t up to date on the webcomic and/or haven’t read the first volume, you should definitely do that. (See my glowing review of Volume 1 here).
So if you clicked that link, you know I loved the first print installment of these comics. I loved volume 2 too! What an amazing collection of comics! If you need some pure, happy, hopeful magical queer femme goodness in your life (and who doesn’t??), you need to get your hands on this comic asap.
While the first volume introduces the two rival / frenemy bands that comprise the title of the comic—it’s the Sourballs Vs. the Candy Hearts—the second volume gets deeper into the personalities of all the band members, as well as—squee!—further develops the burgeoning romantic relationship between the respective lead singers Turpentine and Honey Hart. In case you’ve forgotten how these two bands seem like they couldn’t be more different:
The great thing that Jacques does in this new volume is investigate how, despite appearances, the two bands may have more in common than they think. The shenanigans around each band trying to figure out how to deal with their financial woes, and their disappointment in some folk band named “Forest Elk” winning local band of the years are oddly similar. (Although only the Sourballs deal by turning over a table and stealing the trophy right from the hands of Forest Elk at the ceremony. The Candy Hearts are characteristically very good sports.)
How do you keep your band going into your twenties? How do you balance your day job with your true passion, the band? How do you keep band members motivated and eager to stay with the band as they get older and times get tough? As the leads of each band, both Honey Hart and Turpentine are trying to answer these questions.
They’re also trying to answer the long-standing question of how to deal with that ever-increasing lesbian sexual tension between them! I love a slow-burn romance, and is this ever a great one. I can’t help but feel giddy just thinking about it, because it’s soooo cute! The pages detailing their first kisses (and more!) and their shy vulnerability are just unbelievably sweet and heart-warming and squeal enducing. But also, SEXY:
I think we are all feeling exactly like Princess Bunny, am I right? I’m fanning myself right now.
It’s also lovely to see both of them bring out other sides of the other: bad-ass Turpentine softens a bit; do-gooder Honey Hart cuts a little loose. Queer femme opposites attract! Actually, the fact that they’re both femme but in very different ways is one of my favourite things about this comic. Punk hard femme and wholesome 50s vintage femme have never looked so good as when they’re together.
This might be one of my all-time favourite panels. Honey trying so hard to impress Turpentine’s friends by bringing cue cards with edgy conversation topics on them? Turpentine reassuring her? Atomic Domme being sweet to Honey? Atomic Domme talking historical trans women and “experimental occult machines?” Atomic Domme just being?? Arsenic’s little quip “I liked those first topics, tho”? I LOVE IT ALL.
As if Turps and Honey’s romance isn’t enough, there are also so many more things to love: the never-ending hilarious jokes! The beautifully retro and stylistically unique drawings using pink, blue, and black tones! The casual, lowkey way the comic deals with diversity (featuring multiple characters of colour and L,G,B, and T characters)! The unique quirks and personalities of each member of both bands! I admit: Atomic Domme from the Sourballs is my favourite—see above panel for a great example of why. There’s another fabulous strip where, in response to the idea of summer fashion, Domme just says “no,” while sitting there sweating in an outfit made almost entirely of black leather.
Seriously, this entire comic is so funny and spot-on, often in little subtle ways that you might miss if you read the panels too quickly. This is your reminder to slow down! For example, the name of the band “Forest Elk,” as a Pacific West Coast folk band? It’s almost too true to life, hitting that edge of realism and parody that Jacques does so well, without ever being mean or petty. And check out what they look like in this epic scene:
In fact, Jacques making up band names and songs is another one of my favourite parts of the comic. Here’s a whole panel of them! The best is obviously “The Adam Daveson Band,” with their song “Unattainable Girl (Just Ignores Me at the Party)”, with the “Scene Weekly”’s astute assessment: “Buddy. You’ve miscalculated here.” The queer feminist satire is just gold.
Well, what are you waiting for? Read it online now! I dare you not to binge it all.