Later this month, David France may win an Oscar for his aids doc How To Survive a Plague. Another way to recapture the fire of the 80s is through David Wojnarowicz's short graphic memoir 7 Miles a Second brilliantly illustrated by James Romberger with color by Marguerite Van Cook that beautifully evokes the era's mood. Fantagraphics is reissuing it in hardcover:
"The graphic novel depicts Wojnarowicz’s childhood of prostitution and drugs on the streets of Manhattan, through his adulthood living with AIDS, and his anger at the indifference of government and health agencies. Originally published as a comic book in 1996 by DC’s Vertigo Comics, an imprint best-known for horror and fantasy, 7 Miles a Second was an instant critical success, but struggled to find an audience... Romberger and Van Cook’s visuals give stunning life to Wojnarowicz’s words, blending the gritty naturalism of Lower East Side street life with a hallucinatory, psychedelic imagination that takes perfect advantage of the comics medium. This new edition will finally present the artwork as it was intended: oversized, and with Van Cook’s elegant watercolors restored."
Writing in the LA Times, David Ulin quotes
“And I’m carrying this rage, like a blood-filled egg and there’s a thin line between thought and action and that line is simply made up of blood and muscle and bone and as each t-cell disappears from my body it’s replaced by ten pounds of pressure,” he declares in a passage accompanied by a sprawling image of him, grown enormous, punching his way through Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a symbol of the institutionalized hypocrisy he stood against. Here we see it, the immediacy and the anger, everything that’s inside him as it explodes.
“My mind cannot contain all that I see,” he writes here. “I keep experiencing this sensation that my skin is too tight; civilization is expanding inside of me. Do you have a room with a better view? I am experiencing the x-ray of civilization. The minimum speed required to break through the earth’s gravitational pull is seven miles a second. Since economic conditions prevent us from gaining access to rockets or spaceships we would have to learn to run awfully fast to achieve escape from where we are all heading.”
As you've heard many times, Cynthia Carr's biography Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz [Kindle] is an absolute must. In Band of Thebes' annual poll, Lisa Cohen said the book was "equal to the genius of the artist's life and creations, and to the task of weighing the often conflicting evidence he left behind."