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From Comic Art to Cosmic Jazz: 11 Books for Subculture Vultures

Carlo McCormick rounds up the latest volumes on skateboard graphics, street art, street style, and more

The coffee-table books that work well as statements of identity in the home and office are absurdly heavy to travel with and just don’t look right on the beach, by the swimming hole, or in the benign chaos of the summer rental. Here, then, are some more appropriate picks, lighter in weight and substance, fresh as the ocean spray in your face or the smell of your neighbor’s newly cut lawn, and well, fun, as summer is supposed to be.

Agents Provocateurs: The 100 Most Subversive Skateboard Graphics of All Time
By Seb Carayol
Gingko Press


Skateboards from Agents Provocateurs: 100 Subversive Skateboard Graphics. COURTESY GINKO PRESS.

Skateboards from Agents Provocateurs: The 100 Most Subversive Skateboard Graphics of All Time by Seb Carayol.

Tracking the skateboard graphics of the ’90s, after the collapse of the skateboard industry in the ’80s sent the movement back underground into the youth culture realm of DIY, Agents Provocateurs compiles some of the rudest eye-popping visual assaults of this silver age when gnarly and rad turned into something far more subversive. It’s irreverent, politically incorrect in ways that can make you flinch, and funny enough to make most parents deeply concerned. If you never looked under a kid’s board in this era, we can promise you that you’ve never seen anything like this.

DON1, The King From Queens: The Life and Photos of a NYC Transit Master
By Louie “KR.ONE” Gasparro
Schiffer Publishing


Don 1, Super Style Madness. COURTESY DON 1.

DON1, Super Style Madness.

DON1 was a writer’s writer, profoundly influential as an early style master on the New York City transit system of the mid-’70s, but his legacy has been neglected in the history of graffiti art. Perhaps it was because he worked in Queens, which was hardly a hotbed for graffiti, or because his heyday was just before the first significant documentations of the movement came out. He was also a formidable photographer, taking some of the most artful and articulate pictures of this emerging medium, including his own work and the work of many others. A great historical catch and corrective, this volume will not only set the record straight on DON1’s importance, it will offer readers a taste of the wild flavor of New York City at its economic nadir.

By Bubi Canal
Actividad Contemporánea


Bubi Canal, Chrystelle III, 2013, Lambda print. ©BUBI CANAL.

Bubi Canal, Chrystelle III, 2013, Lambda print.

A book so sensational and full of unexpected delight that you probably should be eight or nine years old to truly appreciate it, Dreamtime is Spanish photographer Bubi Canal’s pictorial ode to the joyful magic of innocence and imagination. Combining fantastical costumes, whimsical gestures, and absurdist assemblage, Canal’s work is full of wonder, all about play, and contains some of the most endearingly optimistic images you’ll ever fall in love with.

Hiroshi Fujiwara
Contribution by Sarah Lerfel and Ino Hidefumi Rizzoli