The Dharma Punks
by Ant Sang
6 x 8.25 inches, b/w, 416 pages
trade paperback, $25
Rights negotiated by Nicolas Grivel Agency
Indroduction by Dylan Horrocks
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.
As the story unfolds, it becomes clear there is more at stake than was first realised, and the outcome of the night’s events will change all of their lives in ways they could never have imagined. Reminiscent of the drawing style of Paul Pope Sang’s compositions are insightful and sometimes breathtaking. But what lodges in the memory is the deep, heartfelt humanity that fills every page.
The Dharma Punks was originally published as a series of alternative comics which, at the height of its popularity, was outselling Spider-man and X-Men on New Zealand comic racks. Here it is collected for the first time for an international audience.
“A well-crafted, sustained epic of Buddhist punks, existentialist anarchists, skinhead neonazis and — looming over everything like a grinning Mephistopheles — the global corporation that wants everyone to “Consume! consume! consume!” You’ll be blown away by The Dharma Punks.”
— Dylan Horrocks (Hicksville, The Magic Pen)
“Sang is part of a new generation of sequential artists who challenge the tired misconception that comics are juvenile and lacking in literary merit. His comics are intelligently conceived works dealing with personal and political issues… Sang’s artwork is superb, pared down, always punchy, with some nice characterisation reminiscent of Love and Rockets.” — Nick Hanson (Pavement, 1994)
Ant Sang is one of New Zealand’s most respected cartoonists. His early mini-comic, Filth, built him a large and loyal following. His design work on the animated TV series bro’Town introduced his distinctive and appealing style to the wider public. He followed this up with the publication of his graphic novel Shaolin Burning. The existential kung-fu epic was both a critical and commercial success, spending 10 weeks in the Top Ten NZ Bookcharts and was nominated for the prestigious New Zealand Post Childrens’ Book Awards.