When we were at NY Comicon, we picked up a bunch of TPBs. One of these was Jam! by Oni Press. I grabbed it for a few reasons: Oni Press tends to put out good products, I tend to be a sucker for indie short stories, and I love Roller Derby! No, I’ve never been to a match, but I intend to go soon with a bunch of friends and I loved Whip It.
Jam! was a good purchase. Most of the stories are slice-of-life style stories, but there are 2 time travel stories. I don’t know why time travel and roller derby go together, but they do. There’s also one post-apocalyptic story in the book and a magical story, but the magical character story is a slice-of-life story with a little weirdness in it. It would have been fine with out the magic. There’s a wide variety of art styles in the book, but only 2 I don’t really care for. One is mostly because of the layout, the other is because of the art and a little because the story needs better art to pull it off.
Maybe It’s All A Dream written by Angela Joy Moscoso, illustrated by Ray Fawkes is a panel-free, 4 page story. This is the one I don’t care for because of the layout. It is only 4 illustrations with a little text. I like the art, but there’s not much there. It looks like watercolors, but there’s so little there it looks almost like storyboarding for a longer story. The writing is fine, but again it is so short it reads like an illustrated poem. It is done quite well for what it is, but that’s not the kind of thing I like.
Poor Frankie written by April Bozada-Armstrong, illustrated by Jeremy Sorese is the story where I don’t like the art. It has a very underground-comix feel and that makes it feel like it made it into this book by accident. The story is ok, mostly a “be yourself” kind of story, but nothing really special. The art distracts from the story, making you look much harder than you should to figure out what’s going on. I’d even bet that the story would be just fine in an underground-style collection, but here it is jarring.
In-between each of the stories is a Roller-Derby pinup and those are a lot of fun, they make a nice break in the flow of the book, letting more disparate stories sit next to each other without it being as much of a big switch.
One part of the book I like a lot is the biographies of the artist and writer before each story. They seem to have been given a questionnaire to fill out and the most entertaining answers were used in the book. The most common questions are Roller-Derby Name, Best Injury and Worst Injury. There are also questions like: Favorite Beatle, Favorite Quote and Favorite Movie that Includes a Robot. I like that many of these stories and written and/or illustrated by an actual “Derby Girl”.
I like the 2 time travel stories and the post-apocalyptic story, but the real strength of the book are the slice-of-life stories. Some give you a feel of what it is like to be in a match, some are about what it has done for the women who play, both are great. There are 6 stories I really loved in this book and I’d be hard pressed to pick my favorite, so I won’t, I’ll just list my favorites in order of appearance in the book.
- Reno: Where Dreams and Derby Socks Come to Die written by Michelle Goodin, illustrated by Chris Mullins
- A Story of Derby Love written by the Nashville Rollergirls and Eric Powell, illustrated by Eric Powell
- This One’s for You, Grandma! written and illustrated by Allison Blackwell
- From Geek to Freak to Emergency Room written by Melissa Hopkins and David Hopkins, illustrated by T.J. Kirsch
- Trainwreck Taghurt written by Elle Schneider, illustrated by Justin Wagner, colored by Warren Wucinich
- Sisters of the Flat Track written by Caitlin Lilly, illustrated by Erin Gladstone, colored by Matt Razzano
In case you think I just listed all the stories, there’s 16 stories and 10 pinups in the book.
This book has to be just what the creators and editors wanted. When you’re done you want to go to a Derby match and you want to pick up more books by Oni Press. As far as picking up this book in the first place, with a cover like that, why wouldn’t you?