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Ryan Porter's CBGB #1 Review

Comic Reviews

BOOM! Comics has released the first in a limited series of comics on the legendary music club CBGB. The first issue features stories as short, fast and powerful as the music the iconic club made famous. Bands like The Ramones, Blondie and the Patti Smith Group, which helped define the genre of punk, became synonymous with the venue. The club may be gone but as the first two stories tell us, the effect of the music and the club live one.

The first story, written by Kieron Gillen, is the familiar tale of the band – or rather band member – that would do anything to make it. After a fight with the band, and way too much alcohol, the aspiring front man is visited by the ghosts of punk rock. Telling him stories and exaggerating legends to help keep him motivated. Are the stories true? Are all the facts accurate? Probably not, but that’s the point. There’s a time and a place for accuracy and specifics and the legend of CBGB only has room for so much. It’s part history lesson and part romantic nostalgia and the times and dates aren’t nearly as important and the effect. What is important is the impact it had on music then and on music lovers and wannabe lead singers now. While the impact may remain Gillen does makes a strong prediction as to what the future holds for punk music.

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The second story, written by Sam Humphries, takes place in the late seventies while the club is still the club it would be remembered as. Larry, a teenager who frequently attends CBGB, is forced to empty the apartment of his recently deceased uncle. Larry, in a hurry to get to CBGB simply throws out all of his uncle’s possessions and returns to the club. The wise bartender, and aren’t they all, soon reveals to Larry that his uncle was in a punk band. Not just any punk band but “the most punk rock thing I’ve ever seen”. Larry rushes to correct his mistake now knowing that his uncle wasn’t the loser he assumed he was.

Both stories feature art that fits the feel of the stories and the musical genres perfectly. Both are given a deliberately stark, indie presentation meant to, again, match the music. Marc Ellerby’s art in the first story is more is the more animated and less gritty of the two. Which is appropriate as it’s the more fantastical story and benefits from a more comfortable art style. Rob G’s art in the second story is more gritty and real with a sketch heavy style that blends in perfectly with a story about the “most punk rock thing ever”. The colors are much more muted and subtle than in the bright solid colors of the first story.

The first issue is dedicated to the CBGB that never was but always will be. It’s part history lesson, part homage and all nostalgic admiration. I’m certainly too young to know anything more than the legend but I know that a comic like this is for anyone. Whether you do remember those times, or this is the first you’re hearing of it, the impact of this issue will not be lost on you. CBGB #1 from BOOM! Comics is on sale now.

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Here's what others have to say about 'Ryan Porter's CBGB #1 Review':

Kieron Gillen’s Workblog » CBGB 1 Out
[...] a chance to update about this until now but… CBGB 1 is out. You can find the 4 page preview here, read the first review here and see me interviewed about it by fellow CBGB 1 writer Sam Humphries here. San Diego update? San Diego is a [...] [read more]
Tracked on Saturday, July 24 2010 @ 11:25 AM CDT


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