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Comics/Graphic Novels

Panels on Panels: JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS #6

Jenn Northington

Director, Editorial Operations

Jenn Northington has worked in the publishing industry wearing various hats since 2004, including bookseller and events director, and is currently Director of Editorial Operations at Riot New Media Group. You can hear her on the SFF Yeah! podcast nerding out about sci-fi and fantasy. When she’s not working, she’s most likely gardening, running, or (obviously) reading. Find her on Tumblr at jennIRL and Instagram at iamjennIRL.

It’s that time again — time for me to gush about Jem and the Holograms. As my exhibit for how excellent it is and why you should be reading it, I present you with a single panel from Issue 6.

Jem and the Holograms 6 Lineup

art by Sophie Campbell, colors by M. Victoria Robado


Let’s take it apart, shall we? Because it perfectly encapsulates all the things I love about this book.

1. The diversity: We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — it’s incredibly refreshing to see a comic that so accurately reflects the actual world. Not only are different races and ethnicities featured, but several characters are LGBTQ+, and you can see for yourself that Campbell understands not all bodies look the same. And not every woman has a thigh gap! HALLELUJAH.

2. The composition: Talk about your basics; there’s not even a floor in this panel. It doesn’t even have a panel outline! And a lot of other backgrounds are similarly blank. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of detail throughout the issues, but they save the scenery for when it counts. If you’re at a concert, you need a crowd and a stadium and lights and action and depth. If you’re looking at a line-up of chastened girls post-food fight, you need to see them! And that’s what we see. I love the flexibility that the team is showing in how and where they highlight different aspects of the characters’ world, and how good they are at keeping the focus where it needs to be.

3. The character design: Is anyone else out there just freeeeakinnnngg outttt about their outfits? I am not a fashionista in real life, but I love to look at how the other half lives and god do I love the styles in Jem. Whether they’re dressed for chilling around the house or in full battle-gear, each is uniquely put together (and, of course, always outrageous). Ditto all of the above for their hair.

4. The hilarity: I have been looking at this panel for a day and a half, and it keeps making me laugh. Every time I flip back to it, I see a new detail that makes it even funnier. Roxy is just COVERED in, what is that, icing? (Plus hotdog-fascinator.) It’s hard to know what Pizzazz is madder about, her ruined jeans or having to stand in front of the Board. Shana is still trying to figure out how it all happened, and Kimber is NOT SORRY. NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT. This is one of Jem‘s strengths; it’s got plenty of drama, but it never loses its grin.

5. The pause for effect: Kelly Thompson is doing such a great job with the dialogue. The characters have distinct voices in my head, as well as distinct personalities. And so far, she’s used her skills with a careful hand. She knows when, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. (Or at least 500, in this case.)