The Dharma Punks

The Dharma Punks

Graphic Novel - 2015
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"Set over one long night in Auckland, New Zealand in 1994, a group of anarchist punks have hatched a plan to sabotage the opening of a multi-national fast-food restaurant by blowing it sky-high come opening day. Chopstick has been given the unenviable task of setting the bomb before the opening, but the night takes the first of many unexpected turns when he is separated from his accomplice. Chance encounters and events from his past conspire against him, forcing Chopstick to deal with more than just the mission at hand. Still reeling after the death of a close friend, and struggling to reconcile his spiritual path with his political actions, Chopstick's journey is a meditation on life, love, friendship and the ghost of Kurt Cobain."--provided by publisher.
Publisher: Greenwich, Nova Scotia : Conundrum International, [2015]
Edition: First North AmericanUK edition
ISBN: 9781894994965
1894994965
Characteristics: 415 pages : chiefly illustrations ; 21 cm

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MelissaBee
Oct 07, 2017

What a surprising gem of a comic! Ant Sang's "The Dharma Punks" has all the elements I usually love in a dramatic graphic novel--unique characters, sharply crafted visuals, a quickly building & well paced story line--while at the same time holding a big surprise at its center as it is also a quiet meditation on loss, spiritual searching, & the magic of random meetings.

The main character, Chopstick, seems to move like a ghost between the two contrary worlds he inhabits--one of passionate action & another of quiet detachment. When this young asian man with spiky hair is not meditating, he is playing in his punk band. When he is not considering the sayings of the Buddha, he is participating in a plot to bomb the grand opening of a chain burger joint. When he is not talking with his anarchist friends, he is sadly thinking back to the recent loss of a complicated friend. And yet in every case he is striving so hard to be in the moment that he appears caught between his thoughts and his actions, unable or unwilling to commit to actually being present for what is, only waiting for what he thinks should be.

The main story unfolds over the course of the night before the bombing as Chopstick wanders his New Zealand city pondering his role in the violent protest. The dark, tightly cropped, heavy-lined drawings are full of other figures plunging towards the fateful event--thrashing punks, anarchist vegans, a gloomy goth, racist skinheads, and the chatty ghost of Kurt Cobain who Chopstick avoids or engages with. Yet the deepest moments occur during the brief time Chopstick spends with a mysteriously mute, seemingly troubled woman he discovers as she stands precariously on the railing of a high bridge. In fact, this free thinking & embodied woman is a perfect blend of the contrasts that Chopstick is divided over and he is healed by his time with her. There is a particularly moving sequence when he surrenders completely to the moment while skinny dipping in a hidden water hole shaded by a bodhi tree under a star threaded sky. The time he spends with her, naked and alive, is of such startling open hearted beauty found in the midst of such chaos, that I was moved to tears.

Of course the story doesn't end there as the next day comes and Chopstick must make his decision about his role in the bombing, but I will not spoil that for you!!

I highly recommend this story to anybody who has ever felt lost, has ever been found, or loves the mystery of it all.

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MelissaBee
Oct 07, 2017

MelissaBee thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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