Belzebubs (Top Shelf Productions) by JP Ahonen
This little graphic novel is 127 pages of pure joy. Created by Finnish artist, writer and musician JP Ahonen, Belzebubs was originally a web comic of the same name that picked up a healthy cult fan base. We're taken through the everyday life of a Satan-worshipping black-metal band/family, experiencing banal life events through their black-smudged eyes.
You really haven't seen anything until you've seen a guy in skintight leather pants fart, causing a bubble that he tries to work around to the front before eventually undoing the belt and getting knocked out by the stench. That sounds kinda childish, but the whole book works as a loving parody of all the idiosyncrasies that make the black-metal scene both wonderful and ridiculous.
The art is wonderful and the writing is hilarious. If you're familiar with the music/scene, you might get more out of it. But really, this book is for everyone.
Iggy Pop: Bare & Real (Tyrant Books) by Paul McAlpine
We're taking the liberty of having two “Books of the Month” this month because, well, sometimes it's just gonna work out that way. We couldn't not include Belzebubs, while this gorgeous book of images by photographer Paul McAlpine is a beautiful item for all Pop-heads or the many devoted Stooges fans out there.
For the most part, the book covers the start of Iggy's solo career with The Idiot and the surrounding tour in 1977, through to 1988 and the Instinct period. There's a little section at the end that leaps forward to 2015, '16 and '17. They make for fascinating reference points, but it's the journey McAlpine's pictures take us on in those early solo years, post-Stooges, that make the book so special. We see Pop working with the likes of David Bowie, Steve Jones (Sex Pistols), Andy McCoy (Hanoi Rocks), and British kids TV puppet Roland Rat.
More important, we can see Pop change before our eyes while somehow staying the same. His energy, his vibe — there's never been any compromising there. The hair, the fashion, even the expressions — those have naturally progressed. It's a joy to see.
There's not a lot of reading to be done, but there are fun tidbits, some interesting set lists, and a great foreword by Iggy himself. The joy is in just soaking in every bit of each photo. The fact that the book is packaged so beautifully helps, too.