With the underground sport of Roller Derby making its way into the general public, it has gained an excess of thousands of followers, with almost 5,000 clubs worldwide. The majority of U.S. citizens saw its prevalence after the release of Drew Barrymore’s Whip It (2009), starring Ellen Page. This film covers a lot of Roller Derby lifestyle attributes that Slam! #1 does.
The point of Slam! isn’t to simply entertain, but to inform. In this first issue alone, we get to see how the Roller Derby lifestyle affects individuals therein. We meet two women in particular, Jennifer Chu and Maisie Huff, who are best friends, but get drafted to different teams (Maisie just barely getting drafted at all). We get to see how they change physically and emotionally. We also see “10 FACTS about your new derby life.” It’s clear that this isn’t just a sport; it’s a community. It’s a lifestyle choice. It’s beautiful. Even the title, “Slam,” refers to the way the sport works—with tons of violence and inevitable bruising.
Most of the issue is narration through caption boxes. When we do get dialogue, though, it is incredibly natural and shows an intense connection between the characters, especially Jennifer and Maisie. From just this issue, though, I can’t quite tell who the protagonist is. We are left, at the end of this issue, with a simple fact about Derby Life: “It gets complicated.” With subsequent issues, I’m sure that the protagonist(s) will become clearer.
For right now, though, we have two characters whose lives are going to drastically change. One thing I want to address is the fact that Jennifer and Maisie’s cats usually get along. After the women receive calls about their being drafted to different teams, Jennifer lies sleeping, Maisie lies awake and worried, and their cats start fighting. I’m almost certain this is some kind of foreshadowing that hints to a break or at least rough patch in their friendship.
Veronica Fish’s illustrations have a cartoonish quality to them. Her lively, animated art style brings a vibrancy and life to the book that, otherwise, wouldn’t be present. Brittany Peer’s colors play a big part in this liveliness. From the uniforms to the bruising of the skaters, Peer and Fish are able to depict nearly every aspect of the Roller Derby life.
For Roller Derby members or fans, you’re going to love this series. Readers who aren’t too familiar with the sport are going to benefit reading this issue as somewhat of an introduction to the world of Roller Derby. This sport breeds close relationships, and this series takes us through one of the closest there can be. This is going to be an interesting story to follow, so head over to your local comic book shop (comicshoplocator.com) tomorrow to pick up a copy!
Written by: Pamela Ribon
Illustrated by: Veronica Fish