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.
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.
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.