By Bruce Paley & Carol Swain (Fantagraphics Books)
Biographies are usually about interesting people and/or interesting times. Or at least famous ones. That makes this fascinating new book relating the incredible life-on-the-edge of ordinary hippie Bruce Paley an engrossing double-threat. Paley isn’t a superstar, he’s just a guy who turned 18 during the Summer of Love, bummed and scammed his way across America, saw some bands, met some girls, narrowly dodged the Draft and had a few memorable experiences along the way.
Captivatingly illustrated by Paley’s partner Carol Swain in her trademark monochrome line and textures style, we see his highs and lows: life as heroin addict, hookers and Black Panthers, getting by in crappy jobs, following the ever-changing music scene and even the rare brushes with real fame we’ve all experienced: in this case a short, intense friendship with doomed rock star Johnny Thunders.
Paley isn’t a particularly likable guy, but he and his life are real and human and worth recording – and this small saga of someone surviving some of our most turbulent times is a magical testament to creativity, durability and human adaptability. This is a captivating story and a brilliant use of our medium…
© 2009 Bruce Paley and Carol Swain. All rights Reserved.