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Graphically Speaking: CUD, Graphic Memoir, Indie Authenticity, and Autofiction

Edgar, Robert ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3483-8605 (2024) Graphically Speaking: CUD, Graphic Memoir, Indie Authenticity, and Autofiction. In: Popular Music Autobiographies: Rereading Musicians And Their Audiences. Bloomsbury (In Press)

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In 2019 the indie band CUD released a four-part serialised alternative comic book memoir, entitled CUD: Rich and Strange in Black Crown comics (later published in a collected edition (2020)). CUD have had a singular and loyal following since their conception as part of the second generation of the Leeds art school scene in the 1980s (Butt, 2022). From their art school roots the use of graphic narratives were central to the band’s identity, with their second album release featuring a graphic ‘origin story’ on the inside LP sleeve, created by bassist, literary editor, writer and graphic artist William Potter. In the 1990s CUD’s connection, through Potter, to comic book artists was significant with figures such as Jamie Hewlett (later of Gorillas) working with the band; his creation, Tank Girl was often drawn wearing a CUD badge.
Auto-biography as written narrative, seeks to give a glimpse into the personal details of the musician’s life as it relates to the collective reception of them as a musician and the music they create. The nature of first-person narration locates the musician as ‘I’ in the text with the voice providing visceral details to evoke mood, event and place. Most particularly the written narrative gives us the impression of a form of confessional, drawing us ever closer to the artist in question. The ‘graphic memoir’ of Rich and Strange eschews this form of literary telling. Using a consciously absurdist approach, evident throughout their career, CUD sought out an aesthetic that both connected with fans and simultaneously undermined their place in the music business.
Drawing on this conceptual underpinning their Rich and Strange comic strip (written by Potter and fellow artist and singer Carl Puttnam) sought to further subvert the ‘rock star narrative’ by presenting the band in their dotage in a care home, convinced they were still rock stars. They are plunged into a mystery story featuring guitarist Mike Dunphy as a villain. The narrative is littered with representations of ‘real’ events that occurred in the band’s history, such as early gigs and their appearance at Glastonbury in 1992.
There are moments where the audience/reader’s memories of the band connect with the memories of the aging Potter and Puttnam. It would be too easy to identify this as some form of simulacra where the difference between the real and the fictional collapses. Instead this chapter will draw on Gary Fine’s concept of authenticity in self-taught art and Denis Dutton’s notions of nominal and expressive authenticity this chapter will argue that the band and the comic strip connect with their audience because they recognise the fictionality and playfulness of their work as authentic.
Conclusions will address the extension of this conceptual project where Potter has continued to work with graphic artist Philip Bond on the crowd funded Geezer comic, where the representation of late ‘90s Britpop takes a more consciously satirical turn. The chapter will analyse how varying from the facts presents an authentic story of the band which will be recognised and understood by the fan.

Item Type: Book Section
Status: In Press
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music > ML3916-3918 Social and political aspects of music
P Language and Literature > PE English
School/Department: School of Humanities
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/10292

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