In 2003, a documentary entitled AFRO-PUNK sparked a cultural movement, dismantling stereotypes about blackness and igniting conversations around identity. Today, the Afropunk name is synonymous with black power.
But back in 1989, it started with the film’s director, an insecure biracial black kid living in a barren desert discovering punk and struggling to find his place.
The HIGH DESERT is the story of James Spooner’s pivotal teen experience that would later pave the way for the creation of what the world knows today to be: Afropunk.
After a difficult parental divorce, and his mom’s second failed marriage, James Spooner finds himself in his old predominantly white DESERT hometown, and in a new school in Apple Valley, California. Troubled by his clinging mom and neglectful absent father, James grows increasingly enticed by PUNK rock which by outward appearances flaunts the angst and frustration he is feeling. On his first day of school , he meets a black punk teen named Ty, a mildly racist skinhead named Ethan, and a smart goth chick named Melody, who he will embark on a series of learning experiences with around friendship, racism, identity, and clumsy teen love.
James later gains a deeper insight into the punk ethos after visiting his father in New York over Christmas and being schooled by a more intellectually sophisticated feminist punk girl in the lower east side on the TRUE nature of a punk scene. He later returns to the desert with tools and a greater understanding of the power of DIY punk culture to supplant empty angst. But in the end, with a teen’s death, and his mother’s grim outlook on what the desert will do to her son, James departs for New York with a future in punk to come...
The High Desert is a coming of age graphic novel covering teen angst and racism, all while putting readers on the fast track from POSER to punk.
PJ Mark at Janklow & Nesbit Associates