The Dharma Punks by Ant Sang.
This graphic novel for high school students and young adults is possibly the best graphic novel I have read by any author since Dylan Horrocks’ Hicksville.
I normally have difficulty reading graphic novels but not with this one. I finished it in two sittings, put it down and said WOW!
The novel evolved from the Dharma Punks comic series of the early 1990’s which were set around a punk band named Filth. It’s about rebellion, about the meaning of life on a higher plane, about existing in a hostile world, about the awkwardness of relationships and about the naivity of youth. It’s also about violence and exploitation but the innocence of it all shines through like a beacon.
Chopstick is the main character. He hasn’t gotten over the death of a female band member who jumped off Grafton bridge into the cemetery below. The others haven’t got over it either and are drifting aimlessly in life. Somethings gotta give and it does.
Lured into placing an allegedly harmless bomb at the opening of a fast food outlet by a large conglomerate, Chopstick and his mates have a night of wonder and violence. They are attacked by skinheads, Chopstick has a religious experience and all hell breaks loose.
In between chapters there are philosophical quotations from Bhuddism that talk about some of the deep things in life and are relevant to the action.
The graphics are superb and enhance the mood and character of the participants and the action. The ending is positive and the interaction and dialogue between the characters is real.
Set in Central Auckland, you will not read a better graphic novel than this.