On Comics: Page Diving

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By Matthew Shaer

From 1998 to 2007 the New York-based artist Allan Norico showed up at a whole hell of a lot of shows, mostly of punk/rawk variety. He saw Avail at the Knitting Factory in '06, and Mewithoutyou at Avalon in '05. He caught Arcade Fire in Central Park, "as a cloudy day turned into a moonlit night. Melodies blending with strings and percussion, all riding down to us on huge raindrops.” And he stayed out of the pit at a late '90s Rancid gig.

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Getting down with the Foo Fighters.

Norico's experiences are collected in a new terrific comic book called "Things I've Seen At Shows," which catalogues those feral creatures peculiar to the dingy, dark rock club.

Remembering an At the Drive In concert, Norico writes, “They played with no reserve, like tomorrow wasn’t coming,” and adds, “It was one of the best experiences of my life. Although I’ve seen a lot of nonsense at shows? I’ve seen a lot more of strangers looking out for each other.”

He blows out the frame with a portrait of a fan, his fist upraised towards the top of the page. Norico’s art strays from photorealism – it more closely approximates a vivid, vibrant, color Manga – but a raw energy fills “Things I’ve Seen At Shows.”

In no particular order, we get one-page analyses on “Creepy Show Guy”; a “short, jagged-tooth punk,” who is “completely fearless”; the “huge coat” guy, who is kind, and gentlemanly, but who stands directly in front of shorter dudes; “Weezer Superfans,” and their specially-created uniforms; and the “Reunion Show Guy,” who has perfect lyrical recollection.

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“I might be turning into Reunion Show Guy,” Norico – himself a young guy – deadpans. “For the right band, at least.” In the meantime, he’s got this book. You can buy copies at Norico’s blog; a CD is included, for full sensory immersion.


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