Akron's punk scene lives on in graphic novel

“Derf, an artist and Akron native who is most famous for his comic strip The City, will be at Square Records on W. Market Street this Friday, Oct. 17, to promote his new graphic novel, Punk Rock & Trailer Parks. It is a pre-concert book signing from 6-8 p.”

Derf, an artist and Akron native who is most famous for his comic strip The City, will be at Square Records on W. Market Street this Friday, Oct. 17, to promote his new graphic novel, Punk Rock & Trailer Parks. It is a pre-concert book signing from 6-8 p.m. just before Devo, The Pretenders and The Black Keys concert at the nearby Akron Civic Theater. His long-awaited new book takes place in 1980 in the broken down, post-recession city of Akron, Ohio, where the punk rock scene was the only thing that seemed to flourish. It tells the hilarious story of a socially unaccepted but strangely confident, geek,Otto, who becomes a local punk rock star.

Everybody’s really forgotten about this Akron music scene which was huge in its day, said Derf. It was really only second to New York and London. In a world where mainstream rock ruled, Akron’s punk scene was confined to the tattered, empty bank-turned-downtown-punk-club The Bank. However, that didn’t stop it from becoming so large that Melody Maker Magazine once called Akron The New Liverpool.

Akron was once cool for, like, five years. I know it’s hard to believe now, but it really was, said Derf, I mean in London, in some of the punk clubs, they used to have ‘Akron Nights’ where they would play nothing but Akron music.

Punk Rock & Trailer Parks captures that legendary time when Akron bred punk heroes such as Devo, Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders and many others. The story’s protagonist, Otto, who calls himself The Baron, goes from a dorky high school senior who lives in a trailer park to a local celebrity practically overnight.

He thinks he’s cool, but nobody else does. But then when he gets into the counter culture, he becomes cool, Derf said of Otto. So the very things that make him un-cool, in the counterculture, make him cool; and that’s how it works. After befriending The Ramones, he is offered a job at The Bank that changes his life. He also has a few unforgettable experiences with punk legends such as The Clash and Wendy O. Williams of the Plasmatics. In one particularly memorable scene, Otto watches the cops tackle and arrest Wendy O. Williams for indecent exposure while she was performing on stage.

Punk Rock & Trailer Parks is not only about the music, but it’s about dealing with life in a small town high school. Otto and his friends deal with being bullied, fantasize about girls, witness tragedy, encounter neighborhood weirdness and have a passion for music. They are characters that you already know.

Although this story seems unbelievable, there are many aspects of it that are actually true, which makes the story even more entertaining.

You write what you know, and I know battered, rust-belt cities and wacky little Midwestern towns, Derf said., It gives your work an element of truth, no matter how absurd you make it, and I think that’s important to make the work real for people.

Punk Rock & Trailer Parks is a hilarious and provocative graphic novel that not only entertains, but also educates. We can relive what Akron was like when it was cool. To learn more about Derf, or to check out more of his comics, log on to derfcity.com.

Punk Rock & Trailer Parks will be available Friday wherever books are sold.