Be Your Own Backing Band
Be Your Own Backing Band is the latest collection of Liz Prince‘s autobiographical comics. (She’s previously created Tomboy, Alone Forever, and the Ignatz-winning Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed?)
The comic strips here are about music, specifically her love of punk rock. That subject should find a sympathetic audience among comic readers, since the two media have a lot in common. That do-it-yourself ethos meant I enjoyed reading this although I think I recognized only five of the hundreds of bands mentioned. I could still relate to Prince’s exploration of how music she loves affects her, with topics such as creating your own life soundtrack with a mixtape or on a trusty iPod.
Oddly, I feel as though I learned more about her through these incidents, with an external subject, than I have reading some of her more explicitly personal comics in her previous books. Ones that specifically spoke to me involved mood swings, or getting older, or coming to appreciate being a girl. One of the longer pieces follows her through a trip to Texas to see a bunch of bands and eventually “get[ting] sick of Mexican food.” Another travelogue is drawn in collaboration with Jim Kettner, who went with her to a reunion of a favorite group.
I particularly liked her introduction, where she’s honest about not being able to sing or play anything. As a result, she found different, creative ways to support bands she liked and be part of the scene. That includes making the comics reprinted here, which originally ran on a website and in the zine Razorcake. I also sympathized a lot with a piece about the collecting impulse, where she explains why she doesn’t have any vinyl records.
Be Your Own Backing Band is out from Silver Sprocket, a comic and zine publisher and record label that only recently has started listing through Diamond Distribution for comic stores. It can be ordered from them with code OCT17 1804 and should be in shops by the end of the year.
You can read some sample strips, including the comic-format book introduction, at the publisher’s website. (The publisher provided a review copy.)