It’s amazing how quickly we belittle the things that were enjoyable for us as teenagers. Look through any thrift store and you’ll find the evidence of this. Baseball cards, parachute pants, homemade VHS tapes of old “Yo! MTV Raps” episodes, and without fail, a big white cardboard box of dog-eared, greasy, comic books that still smell like the Yoo-hoo that got spilled on them many years ago.
This week I found a comic like this in my local thrift store, obviously refuse from some library, with the “Young Adult” label still stuck to the spine. The comic was called “Garage Band”, written by a semi-famous Italian artist named Gipi. It’s about a bunch of kids who start a band and how their back-stories and personalities shape the music and the band dynamics. It’s an amazingly true depiction of what it feels like to be a teenage garage rocker.
Anyone who has lived through their adolescence can relate to the emotions behind the fights with parents, or stealing to replace broken old amps, or the constant struggle to find a place to practice.
The nice thing about this comic is that it doesn’t feel like music is a backdrop. It’s not a gimmick to look cool, and it’s certainly not a joke. In fact each chapter ends with a visual depiction of one of the band’s songs and Gipi makes it feel surprisingly musical. I’d be surprised if he wasn’t drawing on some kind of personal experience.
Anyone can relate to the story. You find yourself worrying about where these kids will find a replacement bass amp, or if the guitar player’s girlfriend will cause trouble. But it’s not because of extensive character development or a thrilling plotline, it’s because everyone was that teenager at some point and felt the emotions that Gipi is communicating.
It’s easy to write off the emotions of adolescence as the side effects of puberty, or misguided angst, but looking at something like “Garage Band” makes it clear that there’s a hell of a lot more to it than that. Maybe it takes something like a comic, a symbol of adolescence, to remind us that we haven’t really changed all that much.
LORENZO WOLFF is a musician living in New York. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org