Jason Franks is the author of Bloody Waters, the subject of a previous Rock ‘n’ Read, and comic books The Sixsmiths and McBlack, among others. Here, Jason gives a few recommendations of books about music and monsters of his own.
My friendship with Narrelle is more or less based on our mutual love of stories about rock’n’roll and/or monsters. Love to read about them, love to write about them. So I’m here to talk about some books that I think will appeal to the readers of Kitty and Cadaver.
One of my absolute favourite rock’n’roll books is A&R by Bill Flanagan. The protagonist of this book is Jim Cantone, an Artist and Repertoire man who works for a small music label. Jim’s an honest guy who just loves music and who wants to help new bands develop and find success, but the LA music industry has always been a fickle place, and now that the business is in its death throes it’s more vicious than ever. When Jim is hired on by a major label he struggles to serve his corporate masters as well as the bands he represents, with hilarious and tragic results.
You may or may not recognise many of the larger-than-life music industry personalities that appear in this book, but Flanagan finds the humanity in each of them – even the monsters.
Iconoclastic New Wave Science Fiction writer Norman Spinrad’s most famous book, Bug Jack Barron, in many ways anticipates today’s tabloid TV shock jocks. Little Heroes, Spinrad’s cyberpunk take on sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, is a bit less prescient and a hell of a lot more way out – as a rock’n’roll book should be.
In Little Heroes, the public is kept docile with a combination of designer drugs, manufactured pop music and virtual reality trash-TV. But when the music business is starts to fail, Musik Inc hires whiz kids Bobby Rubin and Sally Genaro to create some new musical icons, from the ground up. But Bobby and Sally have their own issues and, under the supervision of producer Glorianna O’Toole, last survivor of the Sixties, they find somehow uncover the true, rebellious spirit of rock’n’roll.
Although this book was published in 1987, Spinrad broaches some issues that are topical today From crashing music sales to Digital Rights Management to vocaloid performers, Spinrad picked it first – but, while the real world versions are banal and insipid, Spinrad’s are grandiose and awesome. Spinrad knows some rock’n’roll when he sees it.
Jen Van Meter’s Hopeless Savages graphic novels (illustrated by Christine Norrie, Chynna Clugston, Andi Watson, Vera Brosgol, and Scott Pilgrim’s Bryan Lee O’Malley) are a about the sprawling family of a pair of former punk rock idols, Dirk Hopeless and Nikki Savage.
In these stories the various members of the Hopeless-Savage clan (Dirk and Nikki and their children, Rat Bastard, Arsenal Fierce, Twitch Strummer and Skank Zero) must deal with kidnappings, documentary crews, martial arts tournaments, groundings, criminal gangs, band practice, spies, and protesting fundamentalists.
These are the adventures of a refreshingly functional family told with a sly sense of humour and plenty of punk rock attitude.
So there you go, folks, that oughta keep you busy until next week’s installment of Kitty and Cadaver. Over and out!
Have you read these book? What did you think? Do you have any other recommendations for books about music, magic and monsters? Leave a comment below!