Comics

Galactic Zoo Dossier #8

Underground music and comics, while both inspiring each other, too, inspire a lot of similar fan behavior as Galactic Zoo Dossier demonstrates.


Galactic Zoo Dossier #8

Publisher: Drag City
Price: $16.00
Writer: Various Contributors
Pages: 92 pages
Date: 2009-07
Amazon

With a name like Galactic Zoo Dossier, you know you’re in for an interesting ride, and that’s exactly what Drag City’s newest all-purpose magazine delivers. Drag City, a long time record company, and home to acts like Bonnie “Prince” Billy, The Red Crayola, and Joanna Newsom seems to be branching out further still by offering a fanzine on top of many of the LP’s and CD’s it likewise releases. Similarly, this year has seen the release of comedian Neil Hamburger’s Variety Show on DVD as well as former Silver Jews-leader David Berman’s book of comic art The Portable February.

If you’re still scratching your head as to why this review is in the comics section of PopMatters, let me clear up a few matters. This particular incarnation of the Galactic Zoo Dossier, issue #8, is particularly interested in exploring the world of comics. Alongside numerous short rock bios of past psychedelic and rock acts, numerous comic-style drawings accompany the descriptions, ala comic artist Charles Burns’ work with The Believer magazine. In fact, the work done here on various rock acts past also bears a striking resemblance to R. Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz, and Country book done a few years back also in that it includes an accompanying CD that comes with it.

Along with the drawings, there are both commentaries on different themes in various old trade comics, a section called “The Wonderful World of Comics,” as well as new comic material from Leslie Stein’s strip “Eye of the Majestic Creature.” But what all of this together does best is highlight the similarities between underground comics communities and music communities. As one of “The Wonderful World of Comics” sections points out, “Comics and rockers were always friends, mutually inspiring each other and borrowing imagery of the visceral, colorful type…. With words, pictures, and sounds one had all!” Underground music and comics, while both inspiring each other, too, inspire a lot of similar fan behavior as Galactic Zoo Dossier demonstrates. The ruminations on lights and patterns in old trade comics aren’t wildly different in tone than those bemoaning the lack of accolades that 1960’s girl-group The Cake got.

In fact, both fan cultures for comics as well as underground music have become well-known for such arm-chair philosophizing and have subsequently been heavily parodied in other medias. The mythology surrounding both music and comic fan cultures has been well-documented in such figures as the “Comic Book Guy” on The Simpsons, or John Cusack’s character Rob Gordon in the film High Fidelity. Whether self-consciously or not, Galactic Zoo Dossier #8 affects this same sort of fan-boy expertise that reads like a group of record-collecting friends arguing their favorite underground garage-psych band that never gets its due credit or alternately discussing how Steve Gerber’s illustrations for Daredevil had a really awesome psychedelic edge to them in a heavily-postered high school bedroom ( Galactic Zoo Dossier contains the adjective psychedelic in various forms, perhaps more so than any other publication I have ever pursued).

In general, the art is pretty well-rendered in Galactic Zoo Dossier’s 8th incarnation, but it’s nothing revolutionary. Neither is the idea of a comic or music fanzine, but all and all it’s a fun romp. The writing is largely snarky and in-the-know, but is amusing at turns as well. For the most part, it reads like a salon of underground music, comics, and culture where different fans meet and discuss in a sort of incohesive, but nonetheless entertaining manner. While Galactic Zoo Dossier #8 might not be for the uninitiated, it certainly should find some open arms in the similarly-minded record and comic aficionados whose tone it (unconsciously? consciously?) affects.

6
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

Political Cartoonist Art Young Was an Aficionado of all Things Infernal

Fantagraphics' new edition of Inferno takes Art Young's original Depression-era critique to the Trump Whitehouse -- and then drags it all to Hell.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

OK Go's Emotional New Ballad, "All Together Now", Inspired by Singer's Bout with COVID-19

Damian Kulash, lead singer for OK Go discusses his recent bout with COVID-19, how it impacted his family, and the band's latest pop delight, "All Together Now", as part of our Love in the Time of Coronavirus series.

Books

The Rules Don't Apply to These Nonconformist Novelists

Ian Haydn Smith's succinct biographies in Cult Writers: 50 Nonconformist Novelists You Need to Know entice even seasoned bibliophiles.

Music

Siren Songs' Merideth Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels Debut As a Folk Duo (album stream + interview)

Best friends and longtime musical collaborators Merideth Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels team up as Siren Songs for the uplifting folk of their eponymous LP.

Music

Buzzcocks' 1993 Comeback 'Trade Test Transmissions' Showed Punk's Great Survivors' Consistency

PopMatters' appraisal of Buzzcocks continues with the band's proper comeback LP, Trade Test Transmissions, now reissued on Cherry Red Records' new box-set, Sell You Everything.

Music

Archie Shepp, Raw Poetic, and Damu the Fudgemunk Enlighten and Enliven with 'Ocean Bridges'

Ocean Bridges is proof that genre crossovers can sound organic, and that the term "crossover" doesn't have to come loaded with gimmicky connotations. Maybe we're headed for a world in which genres are so fluid that the term is dropped altogether from the cultural lexicon.

Books

Claude McKay's 'Romance in Marseille' Is Ahead of Its Time

Claude McKay's Romance in Marseille -- only recently published -- pushes boundaries on sexuality, disability, identity -- all in gorgeous poetic prose.

Music

Christine Ott Brings the Ondes Martenot to New Heights with the Mesmerizing 'Chimères'

France's Christine Ott, known for her work as an orchestral musician and film composer, has created a unique new solo album, Chimères, that spotlights an obscure instrument.

Music

Man Alive! Is a Continued Display of the Grimy-Yet-Refined Magnetism of King Krule

Following The OOZ and its accolades, King Krule crafts a similarly hazy gem with Man Alive! that digs into his distinct aesthetic rather than forges new ground.

Books

The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.

Music

ONO Confronts American Racial Oppression with the Incendiary 'Red Summer'

Decades after their initial formation, legendary experimentalists ONO have made an album that's topical, vital, uncomfortable, and cathartic. Red Summer is an essential documentation of the ugliness and oppression of the United States.

Film

Silent Women Filmmakers No Longer So Silent: Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers

The works of silent filmmakers Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers were at risk of being forever lost. Kino Lorber offers their works on Blu-Ray. Three cheers for film historians and film restoration.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.