No Future: Punk and the Underground Graphic Novel

Noys, B. (2018) No Future: Punk and the Underground Graphic Novel. In: The Cambridge History of the Graphic Novel. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 235-250. ISBN 9781107171411

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Punk was the explosion of negation in music, with the Sex Pistols announcing ‘No Future’ and the Stranglers ‘No More Heroes’ in 1977. It was also an explosion of visual negations: in fashion, with the work of Vivienne Westwood, on record sleeves and posters, with the work of Jamie Reid, and in the new culture of DIY ’zines. These visual forms of ‘expressive negation’ (Isaacson) deployed ephemeral and transitory forms, including that of the comic strip. In terms of the graphic novel, however, the impact of punk was delayed, as these moments of negation are in conflict with the sustained visual and textual narratives that define the graphic novel. Here I trace the late emergence of punk into the ‘underground’ graphic novel, as writers and artists rework ‘expressive negation’ into more sustained works. Central here is the work of the Manchester-based publisher Savoy, with the Lord Horror and Reverbstorm graphic novels of the 1990s. These controversial works probe popular culture and histories of anti-Semitism and fascism, drawing on punk and post-punk engagements with the underside of post-war official culture in the anti-narrative form of a hallucinatory modernism. I also explore the more light-hearted work of Peter Bagge’s Hate, which focuses a jaundiced eye on the Seattle ‘grunge’ scene of the 1990s through a picaresque realism. If punk declared ‘no future’, these works critically probe punk’s gestures of negation and explore the limits of the form of the graphic novel.

Publication Type: Book Sections
Additional Information: Part 2, Chapter 15 E book ISBN: 9781316774106
Uncontrolled Keywords: Graphic novels, History and Criticism, Art and Design
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary history
Divisions: Academic Areas > Institute of Arts and Humanities > English and Creative Writing
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Benjamin Noys
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2020 11:17
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2021 08:22

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