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Underdog review 'Punks In The Willows'

Fred Spenner at Underdog Fanzine has been reading Alex CF’s new illustrated book, ‘Punks in the Willows’, and this is what he had to say about it:

"‘Punks In The Willows’ is a colourful guide for the punk community, told from the point of view of animals. It contains a collection of short texts and full-page illustrations that address creativity, music, social justice and above all, friendship.

"Alex CF is an illustrator, author and sculptor. His work revolves around animal mythology and political fantasy. He has written the environmental epic "The Books of Orata", "Seek The Throat From Which We Sing" and "Wretched Is The Husk" as well as the illustrated companion book "The Orata, A Compendium Of The Cultures And Creeds Of Naa". His personal and political aspirations are further explored in "The Book Of Venym, An Egalitarian Demonology". An illustrated anti-fascist occult grimoire, a call to arms in defence of nature and against humanity's tendency to violence, told through impressive illustrations of benevolent demons and deities.

"Alex has spent much of his adult life studying DIY punk, animal rights and alternative culture, and is the singer of a number of bands in which he creates standalone narratives and artwork inspired by his favourite writers and the band's shared ideologies. He was the singer of Fall of Efrafa and is currently involved in many musical projects.

"The CF in 'Alex CF' stands for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. At 19, Alex was diagnosed with ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) and was briefly bedridden for many years. Chronic fatigue was a symptom of this, and this was his chosen pseudonym when he started drawing comics to focus his frustrations on something creative. His greatest inspiration has always been Brian Froud and especially his world building and natural history of The Dark Crystal, which he created for Jim Henson.

"Alex uses pencils and watercolours. You can tell that Alex is a big comic book fan, inspired and influenced by Eastman, Lairds, the Mirage comics. The non-human beings are illustrated like crusties and represent Alex's idea of punk: "Punk is expression, heart worn on the sleeve. The bands they love and beliefs that are important to them are sewn and decorated as patches and buttons on jackets. Dyed hair, pinned up, matted or shaved hair. Piercings and tattoos that help to find a sense of yourself from your feelings of doubt your body, her mind and a place in this world.

"Frogs, foxes, donkeys, rats. Like all other animals, punks have different views. But despite, or perhaps because of, the diversity and versatility, everyone finds a purpose and punk is the tool. Alex explains punk and the pictures couldn't be better suited for the kids to experience punk with all its facets and idealistic aspects (anarchy, vegan, squatter, DIY... queer, parents) and present it as a rebellious subculture. 'For the want of a world where all are free!' The last picture shows a toadstool. Enjoy your reading – this book has a happy ending!"

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