Monday, November 16, 2015

Booknote: Punk Rock and Trailer Parks

Derf, Punk Rock and Trailer Parks. San Jose, CA: SLG, 2008. ISBN: 1593621353. 

Genre: comics and graphic novels
Subgenre: humor, punk rock, memoir (fictionalized)
Format: trade paperback
Source: My local public library

In the late 1970s, punk rock was making a scene, but by the end of the decade, the scene was declining. This counterculture music gives the soundtrack for Otto "The Baron" Pizcok, a senior at Richford High School. Richford is a small town near Akron, Ohio where Otto and his friends live and can't wait to leave. Otto, being a senior with a car, offers to drive a couple of friends to a punk concert, and from there, he joins the scene as well.

The story of a small town and the residents of a trailer park is one of many stories that a lot of folks can relate to. Derf really evokes the time period and the teen angst of being caught with few options as the local manufacturing is on decline and there is very little else to do. We also get to see the various punk rock acts that make it to the area, acts like The Ramones who are in high demand in England and Europe but are barely known in the U.S. Derf also captures the angst and experience of being a nerdy kid in high school, but Otto, even quoting Tolkien, embraces his personal of "The Baron" and goes from outcast to hero.

This is a very evocative comic. I caught the tail end of this musical era as a teen, but still the high school scene presented here was one I could relate to. Derf's comic combines humor with some moving moments, all brought together with a punk soundtrack. Derf even offers a suggested soundtrack to listen to as you read. The soundtrack is listed in the book's introduction. If you lived in a small town, especially in a trailer park, odds are good you will see a bit of yourself as well. That strong evocation is a strength of the comic that, as Derf says, "this is fiction. But it COULD have happened. . . ".

Also, Otto in many ways is prophetic, and he has a line that bears remembering, especially in light of how events and history have turned out by now:

"The bitter truth is we'll be downwind of the great cultural fart of the baby boom our whole lives." 

In addition, if you do not know about punk much, this comic will inspire you to seek it out. Derk does list the performers as well as critic Lester Bangs, in the back of the book. A sad detail for me is that all the performers listed are dead by now, and The Bank, the Akron, OH building that was the club, is no more. But thanks to Derf we can remember.

This is a volume I would definitely add to my personal collection. Derf's art is in top shape, and it brings the story to life. It is highly recommended for libraries. However, for public libraries, this is an older teen to adult title as it does contain some nudity and sexual situations.

5 out of 5 stars.

This book qualifies for the following 2015 Reading Challenges:

No comments: