WOKING music legends The Jam are about to be immortalised in a graphic novel – with help from the band’s original drummer Rick Buckler.
He has joined forces with author Ian Snowball and artist Richard Shaylor to produce The Jam: The Start to ’77, the first volume in a planned three-book set chronicling the band’s history.
Most of the stories in the limited edition book have been lifted from Rick’s bestselling autobiography, That’s Entertainment, to tell The Jam’s story from their earliest days playing the pubs and clubs in Woking through to signing for Polydor Records and their early success with the first two albums, In the City and This Is The Modern World.
Frontman Paul Weller and bass player Bruce Foxton feature alongside Rick in the drawings but have not been involved.
“I don’t know what they’ll think,” says Rick, who is no longer in contact with his former bandmates. “I’m not that bothered what they think. It’s a story to be told and I’m doing it because it’s a good bit of fun and it’s intended for the fans that want to get involved.
“This first one is about the early days. It covers the different formations of The Jam with Steve Brookes and Dave Waller – as well as myself, Paul and Bruce – and goes through to the final line-up of the three of us. Then signing to Polydor, and releasing the first two albums.
“It’s a bit of fun. I think the drawings bring things to life. The stories include us playing at Coldingley Prison, where we sharing a dressing room with a drag act (this story features on the cover and shows the front page of the Woking News & Mail!).
“There’s also a bit about Steve Brookes dancing on a grand piano, and the band setting up and playing in Soho market… we were hoping to get arrested but never did.”
The seminal moment when Paul saw the Sex Pistols at London’s Lyceum is included, as well as The Jam signing to Polydor before releasing In The City as their first single.
“It’s quite funny and I don’t think the images are likenesses as such, although of course you can tell who everyone is,” explains Rick, who still lives near Woking. “It’s not portraiture, it’s storytelling.”
The book will be limited to 1,000 paperback copies and 100 hardback signed copies –and Rick is not sure that will be enough.
“It’s 35 years since we split up so the longevity of the whole thing amazes me,” he says. “The fan base is still really strong and anything we do seems to go down well.
“With That’s Entertainment I planned to do a couple of Q&A sessions to help promote it but they just kept selling and we kept booking more. It’s great because people can come along and ask questions they’ve always wanted to ask.
“It’s keeping it alive. As a band we were quite close to our audience, all the people who came to see us. So, this is an extension of that, it seems to work.
“The original book is still selling, we never seem to have enough at the Q&As. I thought I might end up with loads of them in my loft but thankfully that hasn’t happened!”
The Jam: The Start To ’77 will be released this month and is available via strangetown.net, an online Jam archive run by Rick. He will also be attending Q&A sessions to promote the book and details will be on the site.