Stepping ‘Into the Dangerous World’ of the 80s Graffiti Scene
Few books have tried to capture the energy and excitement at the height of the New York City graffiti era. For some, graffiti was a blight on an already depressed city. In the eyes of others, it was an opportunity to be an artist of the streets. For this reviewer, seeing whole cars covered in a design by one graffiti writer was pretty damn exciting.
Into the Dangerous World presents us with a work of fiction that will feel very real to those who lived through the time period. It will also appeal to lovers of street art and its history.
Written by Julie Chibbaro, this young adult novel (which also speaks to adults) introduces us to 17 year-old Ror, who has grown up on a commune in Staten Island. After Ror’s unstable artist father decides to set the commune – and himself – on fire, the rest of the family relocates to a shelter on the Upper West Side.
There, Ror attends a real school for the first time and discovers her talents as an artist. But she is torn between pursuing classical fine art, under the lingering influence of her deceased father, or immersing herself in street art with a graffiti crew she is drawn into through a classmate, whom Ror happens to have a crush on.
Along with her travels in both art worlds, she encounters the GLAD Gallery’s owner Trixie (inspired by the real-life East Village FUN Gallery and its owner, Patti Astor). There’s also a cameo by Keith Haring.
Along with Ror’s moving and exciting story, “Into the Dangerous World” is filled with quite beautiful and powerful illustrations by Chibbaro’s husband, JM Superville Sovak. The illustrations, ranging in style from classical to graffiti, weave within an emotional tale and are an integral part of the reader’s experience.
Into the Dangerous World comes out on August 18. Find out more on the website and watch the trailer, featuring JM Superville Sovak in action, below.