James Spooner's much anticipated graphic memoir from the creator of Afro-Punk has at last hit the new arrivals table here at Copacetic. The High Desert is a heavy duty hardcover volume containing a 348 pages of black & white half-tone comics that provide an in-depth look at evolving sub-cultural communities while simultaneously conveying a moving and detailed coming of age story. Here's what it's publisher has to say:
"A formative coming-of-age graphic memoir by the creator of Afro-punk: a young man's immersive reckoning with identity, racism, clumsy teen love and belonging in an isolated California desert, and a search for salvation and community through punk.
Apple Valley, California, in the late eighties, a thirsty, miserable desert. Teenage James Spooner hates that he and his mom are back in town after years away. The one silver lining--new school, new you, right? But the few Black kids at school seem to be gangbanging, and the other kids fall on a spectrum of micro-aggressors to future Neo-Nazis. Mixed race, acutely aware of his Blackness, James doesn't know where he fits until he meets Ty, a young Black punk who introduces him to the school outsiders--skaters, unhappy young rebels, caught up in the punk groundswell sweeping the country.
A haircut, a few Sex Pistols, Misfits and Black Flag records later: suddenly, James has friends, romantic prospects, and knows the difference between a bass and a guitar. But this desolate landscape hides brutal, building undercurrents: a classmate overdoses, a friend must prove himself to his white supremacist brother and the local Aryan brotherhood through a show of violence. Everything and everyone are set to collide at one of the year's biggest shows in town...
Weaving in the Black roots of punk rock and a vivid interlude in the thriving eighties DIY and punk scene in New York's East Village, this is the memoir of a budding punk, artist, and activist."
This work has clearly struck a chord with other creative outsiders. We'll go out on a limb and say that this is likely to be the only book ever published to feature pull quotes from both Ian MacKaye and Alison Bechdel – and Fishbone's Norwood and MariNaomi! (among other notables)
"Punk is James Spooner’s salvation as he comes of age in a racist world, but punk culture is also a microcosm of that world. The path to reconciliation—with himself, his parents, his peers—is navigated with exquisite nuance and compassion. A beautifully drawn story."Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home
“James Spooner captures an often overlooked, West Coast slice of modern American culture and subculture. Misfits, nerds, social outcasts and rebels: Mr. Spooner has delivered a well needed roadmap for future generations of kids that don’t quite fit in, especially kids of color.”Norwood, Fishbone
“This beautifully paced graphic memoir illustrates the struggle and joy of finding self-acceptance and community on the fringes. It perfectly captures the innocence, camaraderie, and trauma of being a punk of color in the late eighties and early nineties. I couldn’t look away.”MariNaomi, author and illustrator of Losing the Girl
"Washington DC is a long way from Apple Valley and the circumstances of James’ introduction to the punk underground are vastly different than mine, but there’s something so recognizable in The High Desert that I felt like I was there. I suspect in a way we were all there at one time in our lives, navigating and negotiating as we figured out just who the fuck we were and who was with us. I loved this book."Ian MacKaye, Minor Threat & Fugazi