5 Kick-Ass Comics About Punk Rock

When I was 16 years old I became obsessed with two things that would become major focal points of my life -- punk rock and comics. While my tastes in both of those realms has evolved over the years, nothing gets me more excited then when these two worlds collide.

The mixing of punk and comics is nothing new -- from zines, to album art, to show flyers -- cartoonists have a long-held presence in the scene. While countless titles have been published over the years, I wanted to spotlight a few of my personal favorites that I find myself reading over and over again.

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Love & Rockets - Unless you've been living in a small wooden cabin cut off from all of comic-loving society, you've probably heard of Love & Rockets. Comprised of honest, funny, heart wrenching, and sometimes planetary stories, this series has become one of the most well-known indie comics of the last 20+ years.

The strips by co-creator Jaime Hernandez, set during the early years of the California punk scene, are focused on the intertwined relationships of young girls Maggie, Hopey, and their cast of childhood friends. I could write an entire thesis about this title so take my advice when I say this is one comic that lives up to the hype.

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Punk Rock Jesus - In the not-too-distant future where corporate tyranny and crass commercialization reign supreme, an evil television executive hatches a scheme to brainwash the masses -- a new reality show starring a genetically-modified clone of Jesus Christ. Things don't go quite according to plan though when Irish freedom fighters, Christian extremists, and angry politicians get in the mix. Did I mention that the cloned Holy Son dons a mohawk, begins listening to the Dead Kennedys, and starts a band called The Flak Jackets? Yeah, that part is awesome. 

Written and illustrated by Sean McKeever, Punk Rock Jesus was a cult favorite amongst critics and readers alike. McKeever brings a ferocious electricity to the artwork that feels like a strange-but-perfect melding of Raymond Pettibon and Jim Lee (personally I love it). One half action/adventure, one half social commentary, this is a great read for those looking for some thought-provoking entertainment. 

Snake Pit - For a guy that's played in quite a few bands, including J Church, Party Garbage, and The Capitalist Kids, I'd say Ben Snakepit knows a thing or two about punk rock.

That undeniable authenticity is why I love Snake Pit. As the sole writer and artist, Ben brings a humorous, unfiltered enthusiasm to the page time and time again. I got into his work through reading Razorcake (where he is a common contributor) and his zine collections, Snake Pit Quarterly. The anthologies are a blast and are filled with autobiographical shorts told in his signature three-panel strip format, mostly about touring, friends, and day job shenanigans.

Henry & Glenn Forever - This is one of those zines that is so absurd, so absolutely off the wall bonkers, that you can't help but be drawn in by its ridiculous premise: Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig are suburban "roommates" who along with their neighbors, Hall & Oates (now practicing Satanists), find themselves mixed up in all sorts of everyday and other-worldly adventures.

It's hard to fully describe this zine -- which just released a third issue earlier this year -- but if you're at all curious it will not disappoint. Misfits fans and Black Flag devotees are sure to pick up on some of the hilarious references, and the wide range of art styles from the featured creators showcase just how much fun you can have with this concept.

Punk Rock and Trailer Parks - An underrated gem in my opinion, this graphic novel tells the fictional story of The Baron, a Goliath-sized band geek that finds himself in the thick of the late 70's punk scene in Akron, Ohio. Most of the action takes place at The Bank, a real-life venue in downtown Akron that hosted underground icons like The Ramones, Joe Strummer, and Wendy Williams. 

There's a very Crumb-esque vibe to the artwork and storytelling, and the book's creator, simply known as "Derf," does a great job at capturing the look and feel of Mid-Western America through the lens of the comix landscape. It's chock full of mosh pits, melees, and high school mayhem -- what more could you ask for?

This is by no means a complete list of all the punk comics out there, but these are definitely some of my favorites. The punk scene has a raw, unbridled essence to it that's hard to define, but when captured on the page is unlike anything you'll ever find. I'll never outgrow either of these two worlds, and quite frankly, neither should anyone else.

Are there any other punk rock comics you would recommend? Share them in a comment.

 

 

Calling All Volunteers for SFZF 2013

Do you... 

• read/love/make zines and want to meet others that do too? 

 • enjoy supporting local writers & artists?

 • like meeting new people (in a non-creepy OK Cupid kind of way)?

• love giving a bit of your time for fabulous  events in San Francisco?

 • need to spend a bit more time in Golden Gate Park?

THEN WE WANT YOU!

We're looking for awesomely lovely people who can staff our info booth, chill out in our Zine Library, and support panels & workshops at the SF Zine Fest 2013 on August 31st and September 1st. We're also looking for helping hands for our additional SFZF events at the Cartoon Art Museum and Mission Comics & Art

If you'd like to give a couple hours of your time we'd love to hear from you! Volunteers are also given cool incentives like SFZF tote-bags, free zines, and invites to uber-exclusive events with the SFZF Team. 

For more info, drop us a line through our Contact page with the subject line "Volunteer."

 

Zinester Spotlight: Ben Costa

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Ben Costa is a Xeric Award winning comic writer and artist who currently lives in San Jose.  His ongoing project is a historical fiction comic called Pang, The Wandering Shaolin Monk, which he updates twice a week on his website.

Where do you get your ideas?

Even though that's normally a ridiculous question, for Pang, which is historical fiction, I actually have an answer. I get a lot of ideas from reading about Chinese history. Either some factoid or story will immediately jump out at me, or I'll need to look something up for accuracy, and then I'll be inspired by another thing completely unrelated while I was looking for the first thing.

I've seen you at SF Zine Fest for the last 4 or 5 years.  What do you like about that show that keeps you coming back?

Zine Fest is a good, low key, low overhead show for me where I don't have to worry too much about anything. I just need to show up with some stuff and try to sell it. I like the fact that people can just walk in off the street. My stuff probably doesn't fit in that well with everyone else's stuff, but maybe that's a good thing.

You have a website and attend yearly shows.  What other ways have you found to advertise your work and get your books out to the public?

When I put my first book out in 2010, it got distributed to comic shops through Diamond. That helped a bit, but it wasn't like I was putting huge numbers with them by any stretch of the imagination. The webcomic is probably the best way to get my comics in front of people. In 2011, I went to around 15 conventions all over the country. I've attended way less since then so I could focus more on finishing Pang Vol. 2, but I'll be doing the gamut of conventions again when the book is out this summer.

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You won the Xeric Comic Book Self-Publisher Award and were able to print the first part of your comic Pang, The Wandering Shaolin Monk.  Tell me about that experience.  Were there any surprises in seeing your online pages in printed form?  Any Disappointments?

Winning the Xeric was awesome. I have nothing but gratitude for the Xeric Foundation. And I'm very pleased with how the first volume came out. The whole process of printing a book myself and selling it is still an ongoing learning experience. I'm still trying to figure out if I can make self-publishing work. So on that front there have been disappointments, mainly because I'm not at all close to making a living solely from comics!

Pang, The Wandering Shaolin Monk is your big work which you publish weekly on your website.  Tell me more about it.

From now until Vol. 2 is complete, the site updates twice a week! The story is set in 17th century China, and it's about a Shaolin monk named Pang whose temple has been destroyed by the Qing dynasty. It's very rooted in Shaolin history and legend, but the main plot of the story is that Pang thinks a couple of his brothers might have escaped his temple as well, so his goal is find them. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Pang, a group of Qing soldiers is after one of the books from his temple. Aside from that, the meat of the story deals with Pang's trials and tribulations as a sweet, naive monk living outside of the temple for the first time in his life. It's a constant struggle for the guy. He becomes smitten with a girl, he's constantly confronted by corrupt individuals, and he's forced to beat people up all the time!

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As a DIY comic maker, you have great freedom in the content of your books and the way in which they are printed and distributed.  If you had the chance to have 'Pang' published, I assume you'd jump at it.  Am I wrong?  Any regrets you think you might have in having to compromise with the concerns of a publishing company?

I don't know if I'd jump at the chance to be published by any old publisher. I've heard enough stories about people who get a single mediocre check from a book that, from the outside looking in, appeared to be pretty successful. I'm able to make that kind of money on my own. Of course, there's the benefit of being published to lead to other opportunities down the line. But for Pang, I'd rather just do it myself at this point, unless a large book publisher was interested. But I'm fairly certain that won't happen. And that's okay, Tom. That's okay. *cries*

For more of Ben's work, and daily Pang, The Wandering Shaolin Monk adventure, visit shilongpang.com.

2013 SF Zine Fest Registration is Open

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We're thrilled to announce that exhibitor registration has opened for the 2013 SF Zine Fest! The show will be Labor Day weekend, August 31st and September 1st at the SF County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park.  

If you are interested in registering as an exhibitor, please visit the Registration page. There you will find further instructions for submitting your registration form and paying your registration fees.

We encourage all exhibitors to register early! A few reasons why include….

1. After July 9th, 2013 the price for tables goes up for late registrants

2. Exhibitor registration closes on August 1st, 2013. 

3. Any special requests will be honored (if possible) in the order received.  So if you need any special arrangements (e.g. power outlets, desire to be near/far from a wall, etc.) it’s a smart move to let us know ahead of time.

Once we receive your application and payment you will receive a confirmation message.

Thank you all for your interest. Keep checking our website for updates about the show, and great info on the zine + DIY community. See ya at the fest!