Jerry Wick was the frontman for 1990s Columbus, Ohio indie rockers Gaunt. He was also the co-founder of Columbus–based label Anyway Records, which is still in operation today thanks to the efforts of founder Bela Koe-Krompecher. Sadly, Wick was killed in a hit and run accident in January 2001, shortly after the break up of his band.(Coincidentally, his obituary marked my debut at the nascent Pitchfork Media.)
Over the past decade, Bela has maintained a personal blog that often encapsulates and documents the Columbus punk scene of the 1980s and 1990s using Wick and another troubled close friend, Jenny Mae, as the foundation for some of the best writing you’ll find online. His storytelling is beautiful and emotional; he paints a vivid picture of the unflattering and harsh realities of watching friends self-destruct through drugs, alcohol, homelessness, and mental illness. But he never does so in a judgmental way, which makes the details all the more poignant.
Thus, it isn’t surprising to learn that his stories have been adapted into a graphic comic format. Although 24 pages doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of these complicated characters, Jenny Mae n Jerry Wick does serve as a beautiful introduction to two of the more beautiful and doomed indie rock characters you will ever meet. To go along with the comic, Bela and the publishers have included a split single. Wick’s song is a solo number that was released on a compilation shortly after the break up of his band. A promotional video has been made that highlights some of the fantastic graphic work found in the comic, while highlighting a beautiful song from a creative mind extinguished way too soon.
I must admit, when I received my copy, I dropped everything else I had planned that afternoon, and simply took in this wonderful comic. One thing that struck me was the first depiction of Jerry. I only saw Gaunt once, and Jerry was not in a good way, as unfortunately happened with him live. Stumbling drunk, he was funny, and people somewhat enjoyed his antics, but the music part of the night was a total loss. But as I watched him, I could sense this odd aura that transcended his actions, revealing a peculiar vulnerability that seemed almost otherworldly. Andy Bennett’s illustration almost perfectly captures that aura; it was stunning to see, because I never thought anyone could ever capture something like that. Here is hoping that the two expand upon this great little taste and tell the story of these two beautiful souls.