edited by Rachel Dukes
It’s no wonder that the indie music scene crosses over so fittingly with the indie comics group. With outcast kids, teen angst, and outsider status fueling feelings of isolation, these platforms are often the landing ground for those who feel awkward in life.
The two come together in Side B, a collaborative effort spearheaded by Rachel Dukes and her small press, Poseur Ink. Side B is a follow-up to Side A, which covered similar ground, but this time with an even more impressive lineup, including Mitch Clem, Lucy Knisley, Jeffrey Brown, Ryan Kelly, Brandon Graham, and Jim Mahfood.
Most of the stories are short, some no more than a page or two. Others breathe over six, seven, or eight pages. All are focused on the experience music has on the listener and the intimate response elicited by the person hearing it. We all have our own taste in music, our own response to it, but whatever the songs or styles or bands, we all know what that feels like: the feeling of the song that speaks exactly to your emotional state.
Lawrence Gullo takes us back to 1968 in one of the standout stories in the book. Fickle Pixie (how great is that name?) delivers a simple love story whose art is wonderful. Dino Caruso explains how he surreptitiously got great seats at a David Lee Roth concert in 1986, something that probably couldn’t be duplicated today. Throughout, the artists and illustrators convey their connection to music, and it’s a connection we all share in some way or another.
Little things that often plague small presses show up here (e.g., Lucy Knisley’s name is misspelled on the back cover), but they’re all forgivable. In some ways, they add to the charm of the book. This is a homegrown effort, easy to get behind just for that reason, and it has the feel of an indie scene throughout. But thankfully, none of the stories make you feel like you’re reading about a scene you can’t be a part of.