CBGB the Comic Book: Exploiting the Corpse of a Punk Rock Mecca

Posted by Michael Pinto on Mar 21, 2010 in Comic Books |

CBGB the Comic Book

cbgb-comic04A panel from this unreleased comic book series proclaims that CBGB “isn’t some stupid slogan on a t-shirt” however sadly the now owners of the brand have turned it into that. Once upon a time in the 70s CBGB was the club on the lower east side of New York City where punk rock really started (ha ha not England). Yet sadly a few years ago their rents went up, and by 2006 they closed their doors and then about a year later the owner Hilly Kristal died. Since then the brand has been turned into a cartoon and put onto anything, which now includes a comic book. This isn’t a shock as we live in a world of capitalism but punk rock should stand for the sprit of do it yourself, and this soon to be schlocked out comic misses the point entirely:

CBGB the Comic Book: Promo material

Now I should point out that I’m not bitching about about this for myself as someone who has grown up on punk rock, but this exploitation makes me sad for the generation coming up who is being sold something that isn’t true. CBGB has been turned into punk rock Kool-Aid where you add it to water and now you have the “authentic flavor”. But punk rock isn’t about buying the right t-shirt or reading the right comic book — instead it should be about making your own t-shirt and drawing your own comic book (or better yet a fanzine). The kids and bands who made that club what it was were the ones who weren’t cool enough to get into Studio 54 back in the day. They couldn’t afford the right clothing and didn’t have the right looks to get past the velvet rope — to that generation the club was the opposite of glamour. So when you turn the brand into something slick, a logo plastered onto a t-shirt or a comic book you miss the spirit if what that thing was.

CBGB the Comic Book: sample page

As for the comic book itself it’s put out by BOOM! Studios who tend to be associated with second rate Hollywood film titles. However what was really needed for this book was a publisher who had a reputation for quality over following branding guidelines, imagine if you would what Dark Horse might have done with the book. Next you have a cover by Jaime Hernandez who is an artist who is associated with the punk scene — but there’s one major catch here as Jaime is really an LA guy and doesn’t have a clue about NYC. What BOOM! Studios should have done was to pick any artist who was associated with RAW Magazine back in the day. Someone like a Gary Panter would have been a much better choice for the gig than a Hernandez.

Looking at the writing of the sample page that BOOM! Studios has put out breaks my heart. You have punk rock wannabes standing on line asking what CBGB stands for and not having a clue, and then some bouncer character who can’t stand the tourists gives them a history lesson. This is all wrong as the spirit of CBGB shouldn’t be about talking down to kids. In fact in todays Wikipedia world anyone who would be visiting a fictional existing CBGB would be ready to spout of volumes of trivia within a New York minute. This comic book should be inspiring the next generation to do their own thing, not to slap on a corporate t-shirt and follow some formula to achieve the lost glory of pre-Bloomberg lower east side.

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