Giraffes in My Hair: A Rock 'n' Roll Life

Giraffes in My Hair: A Rock 'n' Roll Life

by Bruce Paley, Carol Swain

A unique take on the summer of love generation, through the eyes of an acclaimed graphic novelist and her partner, who lived it.Bruce Paley turned 18 in 1967 during the Summer of Love, putting him on the front lines of the late-1960s youth movement. Paley’s tumultuous journey took him from being a Jack Kerouac-loving hippie in the 1960s, on the road with his

…  See more details below


A unique take on the summer of love generation, through the eyes of an acclaimed graphic novelist and her partner, who lived it.Bruce Paley turned 18 in 1967 during the Summer of Love, putting him on the front lines of the late-1960s youth movement. Paley’s tumultuous journey took him from being a Jack Kerouac-loving hippie in the 1960s, on the road with his 17-year-old girlfriend, dropping acid at Disneyland, living in a car, and crashing with armed Black Panthers at the infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention, to hanging out at Max’s Kansas City, shooting heroin and cocaine with the likes of rock star Johnny Thunders, and frequenting Times Square’s seedy brothels—a journey that mirrored the changing times as the optimism of the ’60s gave way to the nihilism of the punk years. Over a dozen years, Bruce crossed paths with hippies, violent cops, rednecks, rock stars, and Black Panthers... and ended up a heroin addict for much of the 1970s.These stories are vividly brought to life in Giraffes in My Hair (A Rock ’N’ Roll Life) by the compelling visual storytelling of Bruce’s partner, the cartoonist Carol Swain.Swain’s trademark visual approach to comics, typified by exquisitely composed panels that vividly capture both anomie and pathos, is perfectly suited to dramatizing Paley’s life during that confusing, tumultuous period of American history — a life lived in the countercultural margins, amidst personal chaos and social dissolution. Swain’s storytelling rhythms are contemplative and breathes inner life into Paley’s turbulent stories, creating a perceptive prism to view the vast possibilities and endless pitfalls as experienced by a kid growing up in America in the late 1960s and early ’70s.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Chris Mautner - Robot 6
“Swain's low-key, nonchalant art fits perfectly with Paley's tales of hippie wanderings and punk-era decadence, stripping the stories of any rock glamor and tinging them with a genuine sadness. Really, this book just underscores how talented and sharp an artist Swain really is.”
Gordon Flagg - Booklist
“[H]is remembrances are clear-eyed, vividly portraying the era in a fashion recognizable to those who shared it and revelatory to younger (or older) readers. His low-key approach to the sometimes shocking episodes finds perfect complementation in the understated black-and-white art of alt-comics veteran Swain, whose skillfully unadorned style and powerfully bold compositions starkly convey his often tumultuous story. Paley’s blunt depiction of his path from ’60s naiveté to ’70s punk nihilism constitutes a welcome corrective to the recent wave of dewy-eyed fortieth anniversary Woodstock nostalgia.”
“Carol Swain... portray[s] Paley’s excursions as a sort of anecdotal graphic short story collection in many ways, albeit a graphic short story collection with a bunch of recurring characters) in a scratchy, pencil, black and white style that somehow perfectly sums up the stories – just as Bruce scratches around for money, so Swain’s pencil scratches around at the background detail.... [I]f you’re a fan of rock’n’roll, if you dig the Beats, if you like grimey tales of excess and the underbelly of success, this is for you.”
Chad Derdowski -
“Bruce Paley tells his tale with no frills and no holds barred. ... The book is at times quite funny and other times terribly depressing, but it is never dull and I found it hard to put down. Carol Swain’s artwork fits the mood of the book well. It’s fairly simple but it hits all the right notes and evokes the right emotions. I was completely unfamiliar with her work prior to this book, but I’ll keep an eye out for her in the future. ... I found this book to be incredibly compelling in its own laid back sort of way. ... There’s no shortage of books out there about the 1960’s and ‘70s, but this one felt a lot more personal than most. Paley’s words mingled with Swain’s artwork so perfectly that you almost felt like the guy was sitting across the table from you, sharing a beer or two and swapping stories. If you’re interested in that era or you just like a good autobiography, I’d give Giraffes in My Hair: A Rock 'n' Roll Life a shot.”
Whitney Matheson - USA Today
“Paley openly shares his stories of the '60s and '70s, and by the end you'll feel like he's a long-lost uncle ... At some point, this book will probably become a movie, but I suggest you check out the uncensored version with Swain's great artwork, which sets the scene perfectly. It's a miracle Paley survived to tell these anecdotes, but I'm glad he did.”
Jared Gniewek - Graphic NYC
“Giraffes in My Hair: A Rock ‘N' Roll Life... is deeply personal but doesn't get bogged down with self service or making a Titan out of a man. I love that here we have a view of some of the seedier sides of counterculture that doesn't have an agenda beyond the act of sharing...of storytelling. It feels like a recounting, almost a journalistic telling of the facts of his personal history. But it also feels like you're having a great dinner with an old friend. ... As a graphic novel it is very strong. Carol Swain’s rough-layered pencils are distinct and complex with texture. ... Giraffes achieves a fusion of art and story where each serves the other in a mutually empowering way. An ideal comic. It is sharp and witty visual commentary on sharp and witty writing. There is a great eye for details at play with Swain's artwork. ... It is as though the story and memory of the story are more important than the teller himself. Brilliant.”
Byron Kerman - PLAYBACK:stl
“Artist Carol Swain brings a sober British reserve to her husband Bruce Paley's tales of hippie and punk excess for a nostalgic feel with the winning Giraffes In My Hair: A Rock ‘n' Roll Life. ...[F]rom the late ‘60s through the early ‘80s, his peripatetic adventures with drugs, women, and punker Johnny Thunders make for a series of fun, roguish vignettes. ... Swain uses pencil to understated effect, and works up a lyrical, nostalgic vibe. Her simple scenes arrange a loose chronological narrative into a warm experience conveyed as in a film or a song—at its best, Giraffes plays like Dylan's 'Tangled Up in Blue,' if you will. ... Highly recommended.”
Paul Gravett
“Paley combines so perfectly with his partner Carol Swain to capture Paley’s walks on the wild side as he journeys through sex, drugs and rock’n'roll, from hippy to punk. ... Hers has always been an utterly singular approach.”
Rock et Folk
“Bruce Paley has decided to recount his 'rock and roll life' in a black-and-white graphic novel very persuasively illustrated by the
British cartoonist Carol Swain... The pages devoted to Johnny Thunders are, unfortunately, utterly convincing: The reader encounters a Johnny
T delineated only as those who have met him could.”
Thorin Klosowski - Denver Westword
“It's a personal lesson in history, love, redemption and all that other crap we look for in a good story — all that, and it's a lovingly illustrated graphic novel that breathes characterization and intrigue from the first page to the last.”
“[A] perfect union between text (intimate and profound, a hippie version of American Splendor) and image (somber and austere).”
John Hogan - Graphic Novel Reporter
“A pleasure to read. The insights are genuine and the humanity is quite bare. Once I started reading, I didn’t stop until the book was over. This survivor’s tales were well worth the journey, once again, through two well-trodden decades.”
Sean T. Collins - Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat
“[A] breezy read. ... Swain's art rarely calls attention to or gets in the way of itself, and in that it meshes seamlessly with Paley's deadpan 'here's what happened' narrative style, his reluctance to overstate or oversell the import of the anecdote reminiscent of Harvey Pekar's.”

Read More

Product Details

Fantagraphics Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.60(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.80(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >