The Beats

It is a big year for the Beats, On the Road was published 60 years ago. To celebrate we thought we would draw your attention to The Beats: A Graphic History.

In The Beats: A Graphic History the story of the Beats is explored through the graphic art of artists as diverse as Harvey Pekar (who created American Splendor, his graphic autobiography), while Peter Kuper draws for Mad magazine and Jeffrey Lewis is the singer-songwriter behind ‘Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror’.

Beginning with a group of friends in 1940’s New York, the Beats became a diverse and geographically scattered group (from the USA to Paris, Mexico and Tangiers) and The Beats records the lives of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs, as well as the San Francisco poets, including Gary Snyder and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, plus many of the artists and the musicians who were inspired by them.

This is the history of a generation that resisted conformity and conservatism in favour of creativity and experimentation. The unique form of comic art enhances the book’s countercultural history and vividly captures the spirit of the original Beats. It is an essential introduction to the makers of On the Road, Howl and Naked Lunch.

“A book of two halves. The first half is a straight-forward triple biography of the three best-known Beat writers, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S Burroughs… It’s in the second half of the book, entitled ‘Perspectives’, that the real juice is to be found… Short biographies of other (less famous) people on the Beat scene… (makes) for fresher reading, this part is lighter and more entertaining.”

‘Irish Times’


“Eagerly awaited… editor Paul Buhle was looking to broaden the scope of what constitutes a ‘Beat’ writer. Hence some intriguing inclusions… The idea of illustrating the lives of the Beats is a refreshing one that will, hopefully, introduce them to a new generation.”

‘Beat Scene’


“The Beat generation challenged mainstream culture in 1950s America, so it’s appropriate that a history of its writers should take an experimental form… An affectionate snapshot of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and the rest.”                                                                                                                                                   ‘Bizarre’


The Beats: A Graphic History is available here:

The Beats cover


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