cover image The Worst Band in the Universe [With CD]

The Worst Band in the Universe [With CD]

Graeme Base. ABRAMS, $19.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-3998-1

The author of Animalia expresses a determined nonconformism in this multimedia package, which pits oldies fans against experimental musicians. Beneath the sulfur-orange skies of Planet Blipp, a reptilian Musical Inquisitor fills the airwaves with official Ancient Songs, while Sprocc, an amphibious-looking 13-year-old, challenges the law. ""There's more to playing music than the notes upon the page./ I have to call the tune myself, or else forsake the stage,"" the upstart decides. With his Splingtwanger (think souped-up double-necked guitar) in hand, Sprocc joins an illicit rock group and competes for the title of ""The Worst [i.e., most innovative] Band in the Universe""--but his victory is short-lived. The contest is a sham, and the winners are imprisoned on a slimy, viney planet where they meet other vanished rebel rockers from years past. With relentless rhyme and quirky neologism (jamming is ""meshing,"" and cool dudes are ""groobs""), Base explains how Sprocc and the gang triumph over their Orwellian plight. His deliriously detailed panoramas feature decaying postmodern architecture and smooth-skinned, bug-eyed creatures of endless variety; the original Star Wars cantina scene comes to mind. This junior rock-opera even includes a CD recording of the band competition, complete with canned cheers and 1980s synth-rock stylings. Base's imaginative effort, roiling with hot colors and intergalactic weirdness, will baffle traditionalists even as it thrills budding iconoclasts. All ages. (Oct.)