It's probably no secret at this point we're a bunch of dorks, nerds and geeks here, and luckily, every once and while these tendencies happen to collide with our love for music. Such is the case with Giraffes in My Hair: A Rock 'n' Roll Life, a graphic novel released last year by Fantagraphics.
If you were to ask me my favorite things in life, my response would probably be multi-media art, rock and roll and history. Why I didn't pick this book up sooner is still beyond me. I've loved comic books since I was a kid, when my Dad and I would venture off to the store together, often times with him walking away with bigger stacks than me. Giraffes chronicles the story of Bruce Paley through the summer of love up to the age of punk rock. It's a personal lesson in history, love, redemption and all that other crap we look for in a good story -- all that, and it's a lovingly illustrated graphic novel that breathes characterization and intrigue from the first page to the last.
There are certain mediums that are more timeless than others - but like a good album Giraffes doesn't require you having been there and experienced it yourself to get something out of the story. I most certainly wasn't around during the summer of love, but I enjoyed these sections more than any other -- the lost, wandering boy desperately searching for purpose mimics the story of every generation.
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It used to annoy me (and still does, honestly) when people would say things like, "You like the Beatles? Aren't they a little old for you?" It's never made sense to me - why wouldn't I be able to like the Beatles? Why would their age even matter? Nobody says, "You like Mozart? Isn't he a bit too old for you?" The same rings true here as well - the hippie story, which I'm far removed from, can still hold power and grace regardless of the time difference between us.
All that said, it's hard not to find enjoyment in stories about tripping acid at Disneyland or doing heroine with Johnny Thunders. The story isn't all fun and games, though, and it all comes to a reality-altering halt towards the end -- but that's just what good rock stories do.
When you toss in Carol Swain's trademark pencil-scratch panels, the whole thing comes together as a great piece of art and story. Sure, it's about sex, drugs and rock and roll, but it's somehow still a new and fresh experience. I wish I'd come across it sooner.
You can check out a nine-page preview PDF from Fantagraphics here.