Paper World

Happy Punks 1 2 3 / SHAG: The Collected Works

Books That Belong On Paper Issue No. 22

Books That Belong On Paper first appeared on the web as Wink Books and was edited by Carla Sinclair. Sign up here to get the issues a week early in your inbox.


Happy Punks 1 2 3: A Counting Story
by John Seven, Jana Christy
Manic D Press, Inc.
2013, 32 pages, 7.6 x 0.3 x 10.7 inches, Hardcover

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Is punk all noise and nihilism, or is there fun and frolic to be found in the music and movement as well? At one of the last concerts ever held at CBGB, a muscle-bound skinhead invited all of us to embrace him. Amidst a maelstrom of colliding bodies slam-dancing and pogoing in place, more than a few of us took him up on his offer. The lesson to be learned amongst the shared grins and hugs was that punk is also about building a community that can find and have a good time together.

Enter Happy Punks 1 2 3. Husband-and-wife team “john & jana” took a conventional children’s literature staple, the simple counting book, and infused it with technicolor whimsy and abundant joy. Here the reader is invited to count a dozen playful punks let loose in a city where robots run corner delis, ornery penguins push gelato carts, cavemen run pizza shops and a supporting cast of nattily-dressed or immaculately groomed giraffes, hippos and elephants cavort in the streets and dance during the big concert at the end of the story. The punks themselves are as unique and distinctive as the world that they inhabit, encouraging the reader to peruse and linger a bit before turning each page.

So what are readers of Happy Punks 1 2 3 of any age to make of the book? john and jana create a vibrant, candy-colored party and invite readers to come out and play with their cast of literally and figuratively colorful characters. The authors convey that punk isn’t always a clenched fist. Sometimes it’s an open hand extending to the next generation, inviting boys and girls alike to take hold of it.

– Lee Hollman


SHAG: The Collected Works
by Josh Agle
AMMO Books
2017, 192 pages, 9.0 x 0.8 x 12.2 inches, Hardcover

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Whenever I’m drinking rum, which is fairly often, I imagine myself living in a Shag painting. Josh Agle, better known as Shag is a pop art master. His paintings are highly sought after, and for good reason. The brightly colored scenes of Shriners, swingers, tiki, and the surreal is always evocative and entertaining. I’m lucky enough to have a few prints of his, and dream of one day having my whole house filled with Shag art. This book is the most comprehensive collection I’ve seen, including details about his past, his process, and how his art has changed over the years.

I could, and probably will, spend hours paging through this book, enjoying each one of his paintings, prints, and merch. That’s one thing I love about Shag, is that there always seems to be something new to find in his paintings. It’s also really interesting to see how his work has evolved over the years. From his early days creating album covers, to his most recent utopic scenes, you can really see how his style and tone has changed.

This is a must have for any mid-century obsessive, tiki deviant, or pop art lover. Display it proudly on your coffee table or liquor shelf.

– JP LeRoux


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