Book/Zine Review: I Was a Teenage Filipino Skinhead

Greg Narvas’ story is one for Hollywood – son of Filipino immigrants, living in L.A., becomes a mod then a skinhead, plays in early L.A. oi! band Lion’s Pride, and finds fame in Hepcat.  And even if Hollywood isn’t likely to come knocking, that’s beside the point, since Greg has begun a serialized comic outlining the tale in all it’s youthful glory.

Cover of Issue One
Cover of Issue One

With great interest, I recently ordered the bundle of the first ten issues of I WAS A TEENAGE FILIPINO SKINHEAD from CORNDOG PUBLISHING . Having checked the first ten out, I can safely say, they are really top-notch.  Now, calling them a “comic” might be a misnomer for some, as full-sized they are not; what they really are is ten roughly pocket sized, 4-6 page serials of the beginnings of Greg’s introductions to ska and mod, continuing on (presumably) to his day in the skinhead scene with Lion’s Pride all the way to Hepcat.

The description from Greg himself reads: “Join Greg Narvas on his teenage journey of identity and non-conformity in the ‘80s L.A. mod/ska undergound scene. A “totally true story,” I Was A Teenage Filipino Skinhead recalls his transformation from a trendy “New-Waver” to a soul-strutting Mod, eventually evolving to a boot-clad Skinhead. Written and illustrated by Hepcat drummer Greg Narvas, it is both a lighthearted, humorous work as well as an enlightening, insider’s account of an all too often misunderstood and misrepresented subculture. A must-have for fans of the ‘80s mod/ska/skinhead underground, and even more so for those who weren’t aware of it.”

The comics are all hand-drawn and lettered by Greg, and the story comes across with a healthy amount of humor (love the parts featuring Greg’s father, who is thrilled when Greg starts wearing his second hand clothes, and is equally thrilled when Greg gives him his “puffy” Parka) as well as a keen eye for detail from someone who was obviously there.

New Wave Greg Meets His Rude Boy Cousin
New Wave Greg Meets His Rude Boy Cousin

The beginings trace Greg’s  first steps (mis-steps) into the world of rude boys and ska, to his eventual transformation to mod, as well as all that comes with it – the shows, buying the clothes and records, dealing with kids at school, etc. It’s all very authentic and Greg really hits on what it was like for most everyone reading this when they discovered the subcultures they did – the excitement, the dealings with parents, friends, to finally understanding that indeed you are a part of something cooler than the masses will ever know.

This comic comes HIGHLY recommended. I have read subculture related comics in the past, with usually disastrous results, but this series is really a refreshing win. I eagerly await the next ten issues.

Greg Narvas - A Filipino Skinhead
Greg Narvas – A Filipino Skinhead

Look to this website for more history lessons on the L.A. scene, as we present an interview with creator/Hepcat and Lion’s Pride member GREG NARVAS who is joined by ex-Lion’s Pride and Headstrong member MARTIN RUANE. Coming soon!

4 Responses to “Book/Zine Review: I Was a Teenage Filipino Skinhead”

  1. […] Credit where credit’s due: the core idea for this story comes from Greg Narvas’ I was a teenage Filipino skinhead.  […]

  2. its a nice page of google :_)) Up the PILIPINO SKInheads Oi!

  3. mohd firdaus Says:

    cheers from united borneo skinhead,lets a enjoy n kicking bro

  4. […] saw Fishbone at Fender’s in 1986. That was a fun show. The weird part is, there was a zine called I Was a Teenage Filipino Skinhead that published a story about it. It wasn’t mentioned explicitly, but the writer/artist, Greg […]

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