Comics

Punk Rock and Trailer Parks

Fact or fiction, this is a dream come true for any punk rocker.


Publisher: SLG Publishing
Length: 144 pages
Writer: Derf
Price: $15.95
Graphic Novel: Punk Rock and Trailer Parks
Publication date: 2009-09

Punk Rock and Trailer Parks is about the music scene in Akron, Ohio in 1979, where punk rock is booming. Early on, one of the characters lays the groundwork for understanding the setting by saying this: “It started a few years ago… with Devo… So they make it big. Then some other Akron bands get signed. Rubber City Rebels… Tin Huey… Chrissie Hynde pops up with the Pretenders. Suddenly… Akron is this breeding ground for Punk and New Wave.” “My point… is that this is one of the places to be! New York… London… and fuckin’ Akron, Ohio!”

I was lucky enough to live in the same area, Northeast Ohio, as the creator of this book. The weekend the graphic novel was released, the best little record shop in town, Square Records, in the Highland Square area in Akron, Ohio, (I have no problems giving shameless plugs for establishments I support.) was hosting a book signing with the writer/artist, Derf. He also writes and illustrates a weekly comic strip, titled "The City", which is published in various magazines across the country. (The Cleveland Scene a local magazine discussing music, media, and politics, is how I found out about the graphic novel in the first place) Then I thought to myself, “A graphic novel, created by a local man, whose work I am slightly familiar with, about the Akron punk rock scene in 1979. Why not get it signed?” So I did. There was a small line, so I waited my turn. Eventually I walked up to the table, shook his hand, bought my book and asked him to sign it. The autograph reads:

To RANDY—

derf

The first thing worth mentioning is the recommended playlist on the inside cover. Instantly, we see that this is not merely a graphic novel that takes place in a music-enriched environment. Instead, it is intertwined with the music, relying on it to help tell the story. The soundtrack is filled with great punk and new wave artists, such as; Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, Clash, Rubber City Rebels, Buzzcocks, Ramones, Dead Boys, Richard Hell, New York Dolls, Saints, the Jam, and many other great bands from an era long passed. Lyrics from these songs are injected throughout the book. Some of the artists mentioned in the soundtrack even make guest appearances in the story.

The bottom of the title page reads, “This book is fiction, but it COULD have happened.” It is hard to say exactly how much of this book is true, and how much is fiction. Regardless of how much really happened, it is an absolute fantasy for any fan of punk rock. We see the main character getting cheeseburgers with the Ramones; sharing a drink with Stiv Bator, lead singer of the Dead Boys; and even bowling with Joe Strummer of the Clash. He even gets up on stage to sing, as the front man for his own band. Fact or fiction, this is a dream come true for any punk rocker.

Punk Rock and Trailer Parks is about growing up. It is about Otto, or the Baron as he refers to himself, trying to figure out what to do with his life as he prepares to graduate high school. During his senior year, he makes some new friends, and becomes immersed in the world of underground punk rock; ultimately becoming a punk. Many people think punk rock is about being selfish, and only living your life for yourself. That is a lie. Otto devotes himself to a set of morals and ideas about what he believes are right and wrong. He does not let the world around him sway that opinion of good and evil. By holding on to these ideas, it manifests in him as being a punk. He did not go out and say “I want to be a punk, so I need to go out and do what punks do,” like we see so many people do. He was himself, growing as a person does and during this transitional stage we call “growing up,” he became a punk. Otto expresses his displeasure with what is currently on the radio multiple times through the novel. One time, he states, “It’s the damn hippies! They are the first generation in human history that refuses to give way to the next generation! So it’s their music that fills the airwaves… The bitter truth is we’ll be downwind of the great cultural fart of the baby boom our whole lives.” Meatloaf, Boston, Styx, Aerosmith, the Eagles, and worst of all, Journey are mentioned and, justifiably, bashed. Throughout the book these bands are used as the examples of “The Man”, keeping its boot on the head of punk rock, as it tries to struggle up to the surface of mainstream popularity.

As mentioned, I love punk rock, so perhaps I am biased, but this graphic novel is amazing. This is punk in every sense of the word. It is dirty, sweaty, sexy, vulgar, righteous, and mostly law-abiding. The last line quotes a Clash song, and sums it up best. “Death or Glory becomes just another story!” No matter how big and important this is; no matter how mind-blowing this experience was; we must move on, and when all is said and done this will just be another chapter in our lives. This graphic novel is about realizing that, and moving on to the next chapter.

8

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image