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Comic Book / Drama

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As Hamlet once said, the play's the thing.

Drama is an award-winning 2012 graphic novel written by Raina Telgemeier. This is the first wholly fictional work written by Telgemeier.note . The story follows Adorkable seventh-grade theater geek Callie Marin. Having the singing voice of a lobotomized yam choking on spiked marbles, Callie volunteers as set designer for the drama department's stage crew to create a Broadway worthy set for her middle school's production of Moon over Mississippi. Problems arise almost immediately: a shoestring budget, low ticket sales and quarrelsome crew members make her life a living hell. When two cute twin brothers - Jesse and Justin - enter the picture and tease a relationship with Callie, things get even crazier.


Drama is Telgemeier's most controversial work: due to its depictions of LGBT characters and a kiss between two adolescent boys, it is one of the most banned children books in the United States.

Drama provides examples of:

  • Adorkable: Every child/preadolescent character, minus Bonnie. Here are the biggest examples:
    • CALLIE. She is a huge ball of sunshine and determination, and is awkward in the cutest way around boys she likes.
    • Jesse. He's a nerdy male Shrinking Violet with a love of theatre and engineering, so it's kinda obvious that he'd be this trope.
    • Justin. He's like Callie, only far more of a Keet and an actual performer.
    • Matt. He's a sweet nerd who's trying way too hard to sound manly, and has a huge crush on Callie.
    • Liz. Callie's best friend and biggest supporter; loves sewing and wears braces and (at one point) pigtails.
  • Alpha Bitch: Bonnie. This is her first scene.
    Bonnie: Have you (Matt) seen your brother anywhere?
    Callie: Oh, we just saw him heading to-
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  • Ambiguously Bi: West, Bonnie's first boyfriend and the boy who kisses Jesse in the play.
  • And Now For Something Completely Different: This is Raina Telgemeier's first totally fictional and original story.
  • Art Evolution: Unlike Smile, Drama was created with the end goal of a graphic novel from the very start. Because of this , the character designs are more consistent. Furthermore, the colors are far more vibrant: Smile, which was colored by Stephanie Yue, looks slightly more Retraux (perhaps intentionally since its a flashback to the 1980s and 1990s) while Drama, which was colored by Gurihiru, has much bolder colors befitting a somewhat more modern aesthetic.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: While Callie is generally a pleasant, kindhearted girl, she'll snap back at anyone who insults or condescends to her. When Jesse ditches her at the dance and tries to cover his ass, she goes ballistic.
  • Camp Gay: Justin is a subversion: while he is gay and rather extroverted, he doesn't portray any of the other stereotypical characteristics.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Callie is one to Raina:
    • Raina was 12 years old in 1989 while Callie is 12 years old in what is presumably 2012.
    • Raina was a shy, rather cynical and sarcastic Jerk with a Heart of Gold (prior to maturing a bit and meeting better people) due to her negative body images and bullying friends. Callie is a much more lighthearted and idealistic Nice Girl thanks to her supportive circle of friends.
    • More subtly, Raina is a bit shorter than Callie, as shown here. Raina has brown hair, usually pulled into a ponytail or a braid, while Callie has dirty blonde hair which she dyes purple.
    • Raina strictly drew and painted while Callie also builds sets for plays.
    • Both Raina and Callie crush on a geek and a jock at the same time and fail to date either. However, Callie is lucky enough to stay on good terms with Jesse. Poor Raina...
    • Raina was a bit of a Butt-Monkey while Callie never gets abused for comedy.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Callie's first scene in her theatre club shows that she is extremely enthusiastic about theater and is generally a positive girl.
    • When they first meet Callie, Justin is extremely excited at the prospect of being in the play and befriending Callie while Jesse is more reserved and awkward, apologizing multiple times.
  • Irony: Liz says that while it's unlikely that Jesse is gay, Justin is probably gay. She's half right.
  • Lighter and Softer: Ironically, Drama is the most lighthearted of all of Telgemeier's work (except maybe her adaptations of The Babysitters Club. There's little focus on body insecurities or poor family relationships, anxiety or the weight of mortality. Even the snark is turned down compared to Sisters.
  • Mood Whiplash: The scene at the 8th Grade formal where Callie finds Jesse having a heart to heart with West, after kissing him in the play starts off slow and somber, with heavy shadows turning Callie bright pink and Jesse a shadowy blue. Then Callie tears Jesse a new one for ditching her at the dance.
  • Nice Girl: Callie is a total sweetheart. Just don't piss her off...
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Justin and Jesse. The former is extroverted, goofy and friends with everyone. The latter is shy, awkward and struggles with social cues.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Squarely on the idealistic side. Most characters are friendly and goodhearted, even if they make mistakes, the tone is mostly light and comedic with lower stakes compared to Smile, and - much like Smile - even the ending is more happy than sad.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Justin and Jesse (see above).
  • What the Hell, Hero?: At the reception, everyone calls out Bonnie on allowing her personal issues ( West broke up with her) get in the way and nearly ruining the play. After all, the show must go on.
  • World of Snark: Far less prevalent than in ''Smile'' or ''Sisters'', as the characters are a bit younger and/or more idealistic.
  • Victim Blaming: When Callie finally finds Jesse after he ditches her for two hours and he basically confesses that he's gay to her, he offers up this turd of a defense: "I guess you shouldn't fall in love with every nice guy you meet?" She doesn't take it well. Luckily, he realizes how lame of a defense it is.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Callie's natural hair color is light brown (look at her eyebrows) but she chooses to dye it purple and pink.

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