Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Four-color Fiend: PUNK ROCK & TRAILER PARKS by Derf

Punk Rock & Trailer Parks

Okay, I’ll admit that this isn’t exactly one of those books that I’d normally pick up. I have been out of high school over forty years and my interest in ‘punk’ probably lasted only a couple of years during the late ‘70s. Even then I probably only had a few compilation albums or cassettes I bought, while attending college back in Connecticut. Those are long gone and I don’t even remember listening to them once I graduated. I also don’t recall ever seeing any work by the artist “Derf”, although it is possible I may have seen samples or a cover someplace. However, I have read reviews of the book by several folks, whose opinions I trust, so when I saw the TPB at San Diego, for about 50% off I figured I would give it a try. I’ glad I did.

The self-named “The Baron” is a tall, geeky high school senior growing up in Akron, OH in the late 70s. Like many of his contemporaries he is going through hard times, being picked on both for his appearance, non-violent personality and just being a band “nerd”. He lives in a local trailer park, being raised by his uncle, a retired union organizer, who lost his driver’s license so much now go to the bar on his riding mower. The Baron, loves the then emerging ‘punk rock’ scene and believes he is destined to be a part of it. Getting a job in the local club, as bouncer and general clean up guy he finds himself in close contact with a number of the bands and individuals who are helping to make punk the driving force it would be for several years. Bands such as The Clash, The Ramones, The Plasmatics (specifically singer Wendy O. Williams) and others appear briefly and interact with The Baron, often giving him advice or just making his life more interesting. There is a great sequence with the late, rock critic Lester Bangs that shows a lot of respect for him and demonstrates just what a good writer Derf can be. The book ends with a page memorializing some of the real life personalities who appear in the story, who are no longer with us. It’s sad to realize how many of these very creative folks died at such a young age.

Certainly NOT a book for kids or those offended by language, sexual situations or violence, I still have to recommend the book for those with a sense of humor. You would not have had to have much or any experience with ‘sex & drugs & rock ‘n roll’ but it couldn’t hurt! One of the best TPB’s I’ve read this year!
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