Teenagers can have something of a tricky time of it – the transition from child to adult is long and arduous. Few people seem to understand what’s going on in the tempest of hormones, as children start to practice being adults and attempt to break from their childhood cages.
Garage Band is about four typical teenage boys. Giuliano is given a garage by his father, on a permanent loan basis, for as long as he can stay out of trouble. It’s the perfect place for him and his friends to crank up their guitars and practice being a band. Ambition hardly comes into it – for these boys it’s about the camaraderie, not becoming the next big thing. They write songs about their lives and their feelings, taking solace in the non-judgmental environment of each others’ company.
The trouble is, boys will be boys. Stefano has a reputation as something of an attention-seeking trouble-maker, but throws himself into lead vocalist with energy and enthusiasm – and isn’t his temperment just inherited from his dad? Drummer Alex may have traits from his dad but he wouldn’t know – his father did a runner years ago. Now, living with his mother and aunt, he’s fascinated by the imagery, if not the politics, of Hitler and the Nazi movement – a misguided but almost understandable replacement for a patriarchal figure. Last of all there’s Alberto on bass. He’s helped his father through brain surgery but now finds that he isn’t the man he was, unable to take his eyes from his model aircraft to listen to his son.
Expecting these boys to stay out of trouble, unguided as they are, is perhaps asking a lot, and trouble eventually catches up with them. It leaves them questioning their relationships, their families and their art.
Flicking through the pages, Gipi’s artwork looks simplistic, but put together in sequence like this it holds power and life. The characters are deeply expressive and brimming with pent-up emotion. When throwing themselves into their music, the boys leap out of the page. The palette is subdued and washed-out, but Gipi uses the limitations to deliver a mood: a brooding teenage fug permeates characters’ world.
It’s a rich, poignant and emotional journey; a snapshot of teenage life that ought to appeal to anyone who’s been there or is on their own way through it. A brilliantly told slice of life.