Just when you think Sina Grace couldn’t make his work queerer than it already is, he releases something that raises the bar yet again. Rockstar and Softboy served a very enjoyable one-shot featuring a story about queer BFFs that’s sure to resonate with many.
Inspired by Grace’s true-life friendship with writer Josh Trujillo, Rockstar and Softboy hit all the right notes one would expect from a one-shot dealing with best friends who also go through a bit of relationship trouble while trying to clean up a mess they created.
The premise deals with Rockstar wanting to throw a party to help Softboy, who had been working on a new narrative for a video game for months, to get laid. It’s made very clear that the two leads have different personalities, but they still gell well together. They’re basically soulmates, helping each other to become better versions of themselves, even if they run into a few bumps along the way.
The house party gets off to a good start, with the guest list including vampires, zombies, witches, and more. Then things get out of hand when the presence of certain attendees summons a mischievous creature called the Party Animal. What follows is Rockstar and Softboy recognizing an issue in their relationship and coming together to try and figure out a way to stop Party Animal.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the friendship between the two young leads. Media doesn’t have a lot of examples of platonic friendship between two gay guys. A lot of content featuring two queer dudes tends to have backstories involving unrequited love or the characters hooking up at least once before realizing they were better off as friends. That’s why it was refreshing to see Rockstar and Softboy showing a type of close male friendship that’s completely platonic.
During the apology session, Softboy even talks about how special it is for him to love another man like Rockstar without there being any romance or sex on the table. Their bond’s pure friendship. I loved seeing that.
In his notes at the end of the book, Grace mentions how such platonic close friendships between women are shown quite a lot in media. The lack of similar representation for men was one of the reasons for him to write such a story.
Queer men with platonic male friendships exist in the real world, and I hope other creatives decide to share such stories instead of making everything revolve around sex and relationship drama when trying to showcase male-centric queer culture.
The dynamic between Rockstar and Softboy was fun to read. Their interactions, whether comedic or emotional, felt natural, even though they were living in a supernatural world. Along with a fun little action sequence near the end of the book, I enjoyed reading the handful of panels depicting Rockstar’s strategy for throwing the best party. You can kind of apply Rockstar’s rules to real-life people when planning your next party.
The art, also by Grace, fits the type of comedic story being told. And Rus Wooton comes in with some great lettering.
My only gripe would be that I didn’t fully understand how the two leads were able to get rid of the Party Animal. For a book about showing the power of friendship, seeing them rely on power even greater than friendship (I won’t spoil what it was), didn’t make sense to me.
Anyway, whether or not Rockstar and Softboy returns for another adventure down the line, I highly recommend you pick up a copy!
It’s hilarious, colorful, emotional, and 100% queer!
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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