The Beats: A Graphic History
Harvey Pekar, Ed Piskor and Paul Buhle
During World War Two, a group of friends in New York would begin a cultural revolution. Over the following decades Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs would write their own masterpieces, but taken together, as the Beats, they would also become a focal point for a literary explosion and a generation of revolution.
Their story is explored through the graphic art of a variety of artists. The artwork in The Beats is as vibrant as the writing and lifestyles of the Beat movement itself, and is a tribute to a generation in a form and style as original as its subject.
An informative tour of a generation that opposed conformity and conservatism, and whose creativity and experimentation changed literature and society forever.
The Beats explores the political roots of the movement and its influence on the demand for women’s rights, as well as its influence on other cultural forms: art and music.
Among the contributors Harvey Pekar created American Splendor, his graphic autobiography, which was drawn by Ed Piskor among others. Peter Kuper draws for Mad magazine while Jeffrey Lewis is a singer-songwriter, as well as an artist.
“The best thing about this collection… is that it elevates lesser-known figures tied to Kerouac and company… A worthy introduction to the makers of Howl, Naked Lunch, On the Road, Turtle Island and a small library’s worth of enduring books.”
“A book of two halves. The first half is a straight-forward triple biography of the three best-known Beat writers, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S Burroughs… It’s in the second half of the book, entitled ‘Perspectives’, that the real juice is to be found… Short biographies of other (less famous) people on the Beat scene… (makes) for fresher reading, this part is lighter and more entertaining.”
“What better way to analyse the Beats and their legacy than via this graphic history?… Pekar is a writer who deserves his legendary status… They tell the stories of the three Beat figureheads nicely, balancing history and a sense of reverence… Joyce Brabner and Summer McClinton’s account of Beatnik women feels personal and vital; Peter Kuper’s gorgeous visuals leave a lasting impression.”