By: Reid Chancellor - Microcosm Publishing, $14.95
Description: Punk rock and mental health have been intertwined since the very beginning.
Nervous breakdowns, anxiety, seeking acceptance, attempting to overcome internalized demons, and reacting to harmful and oppressive systems—punk rock embodies and emboldens all our feelings and experiences, positive and negative.
Told from the point of view of a young man (Reid himself) discovering punk and working through mental illness in Evansville, Indiana, this stunning nonfiction graphic novel gives punks the most important advice of all: "You aren't alone. You're going to make it through alive".
Verdict: In what has fast become on of my favorite books of 2019, the open, honest, revealing and downright hand-on-your-shoulder for guidance and nurture new book 'Hardcore Anxiety' charts and tracks punk movements from the '70s till today, from small towns to stadiums, from the struggles in our heads to the people actively harming us in our communities.
'Hardcore Anxiety' opens with Reid about to go on stage with his band in a bar in Evansville, Indiana. However, and out of nowhere, some writing on the bathroom wall sends him into a downward spiral that results, ultimately, in this thoughtful, well-researched story of the connections between punk rock and mental health; in his own life and for well known bands.
In graphic novel form, he brings to life punk's ability to express the rage, anxiety, depression, and insanity we experience is matched only by the power of music and community to make life worth living after all.
This captivating new non-fiction graphic novel features a bunch of bands like Black Flag, Fugazi, The Clash, Ramones, and so many more, but its the eye opening, brutally honest, and at times blindingly raw tales of Reid's struggles with mental health that openly course throughout.
With 157 backers who pledged $4,386 to help bring this project to life on Kickstarter, Reid’s trough of self esteem issues as a young teenager soon began to take on a much larger form as he got older.
As he tells it, his disordered mood “... was beginning to take over” as he slowly, but surely began to descend into acts of self-harm. Backed by the music of Punk’s go-for-it-screaming pathos, 'Hardcore Anxiety' - and containing a slew of black and white art, all hand drawn by Reid - is not really a "guide," per say, but moreover a deeply personal diary of a punk fan’s troubled mind.
From the moment where the book opens with Reid putting on his first basement punk show, having painted it in the form of a skeleton with rib cages and skulls around the stage (which he then assimilates it to something that comes alive when the room fills; as if they were the organs that made everything come to life), to the recognition that the longer they played how the world just started to fade away, through to the book-ending revelation of how a giant chalk board of negativity in a bathroom culminated in eventual positivity, this is truly a book for the ages to behold.
About the Author: Reid Chancellor is an artist, writer, and musician from Evansville, Indiana. You can follow his work on all social media platforms @reidchancellor. He currently lives in north-western Kentucky with his wife Kristan and two cats Buffy and Willow.
Official Book Purchase Link