Tag Archives: Rock ‘n’ Roll

Book Review: ‘1956: The World in Revolt’ by Simon Hall

Illustration by Henry Chamberlain

Illustration by Henry Chamberlain

As a momentous year comes to a close, we look, inevitably, to the future. However, in order to help us on our way, we must also look to the past. If 2016 was the year of Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump, then sixty years ago was the year of the Montgomery bus boycott, the Suez Crisis, and, most significantly, the Hungarian Revolution. A vivid and highly accessible account of the year is provided by Simon Hall in his book, “1956: The World in Revolt,” recently published in the U.S. by Pegasus Books.

"1956: The World in Revolt" by Simon Hall

“1956: The World in Revolt” by Simon Hall

Hall’s book is very readable with a novel’s narrative flow. The interconnections Hall makes are quite impressive as he makes a case for brewing unrest across the globe in the pivotal year of 1956. The seeds of unrest are sown everywhere none the least of which is among the youth. Today, you hear the classic, “Rock Around the Clock,” by Bill Haley and the Comets, and it might come across as a soothing lullaby. Well, relatively speaking. In fact, there’s an undeniable power to it. And, in 1956, it had the power of a cultural sonic boom. There were teenagers dancing in the streets after viewing the rock ‘n’ roll movie featuring Bill Haley and his band. And, around the globe, the status quo was being confronted at all levels. Enough to give those in power plenty of pause.

Hall tackles 1956 in fairly chronological order. We begin with a young and untested Martin Luther King Jr. as he must confront the firebombing on his own home, with his wife and children still inside. Remarkably, no one was hurt from the blast. And thanks to King’s moving address to the crowds gathered, the rest of that cold January night remained calm.

Among the leading news stories that year, the focus was on Egypt, the Suez Canal Crisis, and Egypt’s charismatic leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser.

The greatest undermining of Soviet expansion after World War II was the Hungarian Revolution.

And the end of 1956 would see one more significant sign of things to come: Fidel Castro and his band of revolutionaries proceeded upon their shaky but steadfast push against the Batista regime.

Simon Hall’s book is the first definitive account of the year 1956. Hall’s account presents 1956 as far more than an eventful year but as a source of much significant change that was still ahead. From Poland to South Africa, the call for freedom was loud and clear. Around the world the responses came from world leaders: Eisenhower in the US. Khrushchev in the USSR. Anthony Eden in what was left of the crumbling British Empire. The nationalization of the Suez Canal by Nasser spurred an Israeli-British-French attack that nearly brought in the Soviets–an attack that would ultimately fail. Hall captures it all in a riveting narrative always mindful of those not in power who were brave enough to shout the loudest.

“1956: The World in Revolt” is a 509-page hardcover, published by Pegasus Books. For more information, and how to purchase, visit Pegasus Books right here.

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under 1950s, Book Reviews, Books, History, Pegasus Books

Seattle Focus: Rock Is Not Dead – October 22nd

oct22rockposter

For those of you in Seattle this Saturday, October 22nd, come out to the Fantagraphics Bookstore And Gallery for a launch party for “Rock Is Not Dead,” an international anthology of comics and prose based on rock songs with an accompanying covers CD. Seattle cartoonist Noel Franklin pulled together an artist team to contribute. Fellow cartoonist Mark Campos and Franklin created a comic based on the Throwing Muses song, “Not Too Soon,” and Amy Denio recorded the cover for the CD.

Noel Franklin is a Seattle cartoonist who, like many of us in this region, is quite active. We locals know her for such beautiful work as her tribute to the OK Hotel. Franklin recently received grants from 4Culture and the Mayors Office in support of her first graphic novel.

Fantagraphics Bookstore And Gallery is located at 1201 S Vale Street. For more details, visit them right here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comics, Fantagraphics, Fantagraphics Books, Fantagraphics Bookstore And Gallery, Noel Franklin, Seattle

Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery Celebrates 9th Anniversary: Cheech Wizard Show, Mark Bodé, Laura Knetzger, and More! Dec 12-13, 2015

Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery

Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery

Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, in Seattle, celebrates its 9th anniversary in wild style with the Cheech Wizard Show, Mark Bodé, Laura Knetzger, and more! A festive holiday gala takes place Saturday, December 12, from 6:00 to 9:00 PM marking the debut of Cheech Wizard’s Book of Me featuring a fabulous show of tributes to the alluring art of the late Vaughn Bodé and a rare reunion of his extended family.

Big-Book-of-Me-Vaughn-Bode

The very first comic strip of Cheech the Wizard was drawn by Vaughn Bodé on a series of notebook pages in 1957. As the legend goes, the famous underground character came to Bodé as he contemplated a can of chee-chee nuts. Cheech the Wizard would go on to become a big player in underground comix celebrating sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. He was a Pogo for a mature audience with a similar whimsical quality masking a subversive humor. Which leads us to Cheech Wizard’s Book of Me which collects the best work of Vaughn Bodé along with a cavalcade of extras. The forward is by his son, Mark, who has carried on the tradition with his own take on Cheech and his pals.

Laura Knetzger

And if the holiday gala weren’t enough on Saturday, you are welcome to return on Sunday for a book release party for Laura Knetzger’s Bug Boys Volume I. That takes place from 1:00 to 3:00 PM.

Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located in Georgetown at 1201 S. Vale St. For more details, visit our friends at Fantagraphics right here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comics, Comix, Counterculture, Fantagraphics Books, Laura Knetzger, The Sixties, Underground Comics, Vaughn Bodē

Pop Culture Focus: Randy Bowles and the Sixties

Randy Bowles at Simply Desserts

Randy Bowles at Simply Desserts

Here at Comics Grinder, we not only love pop culture but we dig deeper–all the way to its roots. With musician Randy Bowles, I have a friend who can share insights into the Sixties from a unique perspective. As a co-founder of Yakima, Washington’s Velvet Illusions (1966-67), Bowles found himself in a catbird seat to view and participate in his generation’s journey through identity, rebellion, and so much more. It was the beginning of a career in music that would take him in many directions.

Randy Bowles of the Velvet Illusions

Randy Bowles of the Velvet Illusions

Ultimately, Randy Bowles carved a niche for himself in folk music and he’s remained active in that, and general storytelling, ever since. You can enjoy his special brand of insight at his WordPress blog right here. We became friends through the WordPress community and it just goes to show you yet another benefit of being part of WordPress.

The Velvet Illusions (1966-67)

The Velvet Illusions (1966-67)

Getting back to Randy, an important thing to know is that he was in this cool band, The Velvet Illusions, and then he went on to other cool bands and his own solo work. As for Velvet Illusions, listen for yourself and you’ll find a fun and steady beat. Here they are singing the Velvet Illusions theme:

In our recent chat, we discuss the Sixties for a bit and mainly focus on fashion. Bowles provides some insight on the passions and interests of the Sixties generation: what was homegrown versus what was manufactured to sell to a mainstream audience.

Randy Bowles is a good guy. I look forward to sharing more with you in the future!

25 Comments

Filed under 1960s, Counterculture, Music, pop culture, Randy Bowles, The Sixties, The Velvet Illusions

Review: Loki: Ragnarok and Roll #1

Loki: Ragnarok and Roll #1, cover art by Alexis Ziritt

Loki: Ragnarok and Roll #1, cover art by Alexis Ziritt

Imagine if Loki were just given a chance to grow and prosper on Earth without Thor interfering. What would he do? He’d probably get into some trouble, right? Or maybe he’d pick up an electric guitar…and then get into some trouble. Writer Eric M. Esquivel has a great time playing around with that scenario. Who said that Marvel Comics can only have fun with Norse gods? This comic from Boom! Studios shows us a side to Loki that we have never seen before: a rockin’ Loki!
Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Boom! Studios, Comics, Comics Reviews

Review: ‘Legends of the Blues’ by William Stout

Legends-of-the-Blues-William-Stout-2013

You may know more names in blues than you think. There’s Billie Holiday, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, and Muddy Waters, to name a few. And, if those names don’t ring a bell, well, that’s alright. This collection featuring 100 profiles of all-time great blues musicians, big names or not, will give you a look at the big picture.

Abrams-Comic-Arts-Billie-Holiday

William Stout has picked up where R. Crumb left off some years back in creating “trading card” portraits of blues legends. This has led to this beautiful and intriguing book published by Abrams ComicArts, “Legends of the Blues,” complete with Bonus CD! Here you have a very accessible guide to American blues with each portrait interconnected with the other. Each profile has an exquisitely drawn portrait, biography, and recommended songs attached to each performer.

B-B-King-William-Stout

Read the profile of B.B. King and learn how the electric guitar made its way into blues, ushering in rock ‘n’ roll. It was thanks to T-Bone Walker, the first blues musician to use an electric guitar. That fact is just as fascinating as viewing Michael J. Fox, as Marty McFly, in “Back To The Future,” accidentally inventing rock ‘n’ roll. Read further and you learn about how King nearly lost a beloved acoustic guitar to a fire that started from a fight over a woman named, Lucille. As a reminder to never fight over a woman, each of King’s Gibson guitars has been given the name, Lucille.

Abrams-Comic-Arts-2013

The stories here range from the tragic to the comical. Many are stories of lost childhood, like Billie Holiday; scrambling to carve out a career, like Robert Johnson; and ultimately finding fame fleeting and cruel, like Bessie Smith. And there are no end to interesting facts. One fine example is the story of Robert Petway. His claim to fame was his song, “Catfish Blues.” It was reworked by Muddy Waters and retitled, “Rollin Stone,” the namesake to one of England’s greatest rock bands of all time. As for Petway, the authorship of his hit song has been questioned and it is still unclear as to when he was born and when he died! Such is the life of a blues musician.

“Legends of the Blues” is a 224-page hardcover, with CD, priced at $19.95 U.S., published by Abrams ComicArts. You can find your copy here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Abrams ComicArts, Art, Art books, Blues, Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Illustration, Music, Rock 'n' Roll