Story: Various | Art: Various
Publisher: Poseur Ink
Publication Date: June 3, 2008
Back in April 2007 I was introduced to Poseur Ink and a graphic novel titled Side A: The Music Lover's Graphic Novel. To quote myself, "[Side A] chronicles the experiences of over thirty music lovers as they come to musical consciousness and ponder past events set to specific soundtracks. These short stories are presented panel to panel in comic book form and range in style from goofy and cartoonish to vividly realistic."
Well, Poseur Ink decided that releasing a Side A without a Side B is just wrong. So a year later, Poseur Ink once again gelled together music, doodles, nostalgia, and humorous anecdotes for Side B: The Music Lover's Comic Anthology. If you've read and enjoyed Side A, Side B will be a welcome return to form. Once again creative thinkers with various artistic styles tell short stories, revolving around music, through comic panels. The story topics range from the discovery of a beloved artist to a prehistoric love story that concludes with two dinosaurs humping (like this). When reading this collection, it's not easy to guess what might be coming next. In this way, the book's cover art - a hip looking female standing before a mountain of assorted musical instruments - is indicative of the reading experience. Digging through the comic panels, there are stories that will hit close to home, while others may be tossed aside without a second glance - it all depends on the reader.
At this rate, I can imagine Poseur Ink churning out Side C, D, and on and on as the years go by. But I think a change-up would be nice. How about a graphic novel focusing on awkward high school years and the music that helped the comic writers through it all? Or one devoted entirely to the punk rock show experience, in chronological order, from the Dead Kennedys to Blink-182? Rather than sticking with the hodgepodge approach, an overarching theme like this could bind the stories together in a stronger way. But no matter what Poseur Ink decides to publish next, you can bet they're doing it for the love of music.
Side A: The Music Lover's Graphic Novel
Story: Various | Art: Various
Publisher: Poseur Ink
Release Date: April 2007
Everyone remembers their first time. The specific scenarios differ of course, but the feeling of discovering life changing music is universal. Side A: The Music Lover's Graphic Novel chronicles the experiences of over thirty music lovers as they come to musical consciousness and ponder past events set to specific soundtracks. These short stories are presented panel to panel in comic book form and range in style from goofy and cartoonish to vividly realistic. Though each comic is an original creation, and some are far removed from the others, love of music is the binding form.
Black and white panels lead readers into the nostalgia of writers who all have (or had) a passion for music. Some comics fit the limited selection of colors while others would have benefited by a color palette, namely the more animated sketches. None of the comics are drawn out to unnecessary lengths, so the collection can be picked up at any time for a quick read. To get a better idea of what's to be found in Side A, here's an anecdotal example. In Mike Stevens' piece, he recalls his youth as a backward pants wearing fan of the duo Kris Kross. One day in 1999 while walking past his brother's room he overhears "gritty" and "harsh" music that would change his life forever. Entranced, Stevens is revealed in one of the next panels proudly holding up a Sonic Youth cassette while smiling broadly. His reflections mirror those of many writers found in Side A:
"For the first time, [my music] was something I liked instead of something people said I'd like. And I ate it up. Anything I could find. It all evolved me. It was like going through puberty before puberty. I wasn't yet becoming a man. I was becoming myself."
And of course, making fun of oneself is mandatory when looking back:
"Gone was my backward hat & pants. Now I just had my shaggy hair, that dirty flannel and combat boots that were too big. It was nice, and well worth being mistaken for a girl."
Poseur Ink also offers a two song 7" featuring Get Back Loretta and Fight Fair titled Winter Bloo for purchase with the graphic novel for those interested. "95" by Get Back Loretta has a steady beat to it and could be confused for an easy going dance track if not for the soul in vocalist Steven Bradford's voice. Fight Fair's "Take One for the Team" is a mix pop punk and hard rock, a track I don't find particular interest in, since the genre itself isn't a favorite of mine.
Personally, the only real downfall of this graphic novel is my lack of familiarity with the authors. If I knew more about the people behind the stories, if I were familiar with their other works, my interest would have been higher. But it isn't a requirement to know the authors at all; it would just be a nice perk. Side A: The Music Lover's Graphic Novel is often amusing, sometimes surreal, and easily relatable for anyone who still cherishes their first vinyl record. This is coffee table reading for the musically nostalgic.
Various Artists – The Early November / I Am the Avalanche
Record Label: Drive-Thru Records
Release Date: July 26, 2005
Ace Enders and company made up The Early November, one of South Jersey’s most beloved bands in recent memory. Formed from the ashes of The Movielife are I Am the Avalanche, Long Island veteran Vinnie Caruana’s current project.
How is it?
Contributing two tracks each, it’s quite surprising The Early November disappoint with their opening couple. I usually embrace demos, or rough cuts of an album, so “Outside” was a promising prospect. As it turns out, the slightly annoying striking of keys is heard throughout, and the slower pace compared to the album version makes the song drag. I know, I know, this is only a demo, but as I stated, I usually love demos. “Ever So Sweet (Live from Philly)” is no more than a decent live recording, but at least it’s somewhat humorous; as soon as Enders compliments the crowd, ‘You guys sound great,’ an inopportune out of tune croon is heard coming from the background. On the flip side, I Am the Avalanche aren’t anything groundbreaking, but their music is well suited to the Long Island loyal. Their songs continue where Forty Hour Train Back to Penn left off, combining Caruana’s poppy vocals with the hardcore influenced musicianship of his band mates. “New Disaster” is the better of the two tracks and features some straightforward lyrics with a bit of imagery: ‘Well she said, she said / You’re so fucking irresistible / As she lowered her head / Into her hands / Guess it happened again.’
If you can spare a couple dollars to test out I Am the Avalanche, this release will get the job done, but fans of The Early November need not apply.