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Second Avenue Caper: When Goodfellas, Divas, and Dealers Plotted Against the Plague

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  137 ratings  ·  32 reviews
A Village Voice Best Graphic Novel of 2014

The renowned graphic-book author Joyce Brabner’s Second Avenue Caper is the true story of a tight-knit group of artists and activists living in New York City in the early 1980s who found themselves on the front lines in the fight against AIDS.

Struggling to understand the disease and how they could help, they made a deal with a bona
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published November 18th 2014 by Hill and Wang
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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 ·  137 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Jon Nakapalau
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A group of gay men band together in the early 80's to withstand the growing death rate that is overtaking their community. They start to make trips across the border to Mexico to buy Ribavirin to self medicate and help friends. Touching backstories sketch in the human element to the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. ...more
Ije the Devourer of Books
I think this will probably be one of the best, if not the best graphic novel that I will read this year.

This true story, set in the early 80's is about a gay couple who decide to boost their income selling weed. Yes weed.

As their 'business' develops, the Aids crisis emerges and begins to cut a swathe through their friends and through the gay community in the US. They then realise that they have an opportunity to help and together with other friends they begin to smuggle early 'untested' versions
Dave Schaafsma
Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-history
Comics history of the early days of AIDS, told through the words of Brabner and a guy she interviewed who were part of a merry band of activists (Brabner calls them "misfits") in NYC in the eighties. Some drugs that were known to have some disease-slowing effects were not yet available in the states, so the group schemes a trip in an RV to Mexico, complete with drag queens dressed, for the caper, as white bread, flyover Grandma and Grandpa. The caper was successful, though the drug didn't turn o ...more
Elizabeth A
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015, graphix, non-fiction
The tragedy and heartbreak of the 1980s AIDS epidemic is a story that needs to be told, and there are many really great books that tell it. This book however was not one of them. It recounts the true story of a group of artists and activists living in New York City who find themselves on the front line of the AIDS battle, but the detached way this story is told did not work for me.
Antonio Spaghetti
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biblioooo
Emocional y cálido cómic <3
Juan Naranjo
“Trapicheos en la Segunda Avenida” cuenta la historia de algo que el colectivo LGBT parece haber perdido para siempre: la sensación de comunidad, la unión ante las dificultades, la existencia de auténticas tribus urbanas entretejidas entre los que eran marginados por el resto de la sociedad. Imagino que la mayor aceptación social ha hecho que esa voluntad de unión en los comienzos del movimiento por los derechos se fuese dispersando conforme la aceptación de las personas LGBT fue avanzando y con ...more
Sarah Rigg
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a story about a heart-breaking time in history, but the book itself is full of humor and love. It tells the tale of a bunch of LGBTQ friends who sell pot to raise money to buy AIDS drugs in the early years of the AIDS epidemic, as well as helping out friends in other ways. Touching. I think a little more context would have been nice, but overall, I really enjoyed this.
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“We are all stars together,
And so long as you hold me tight,
We will end our lives as stardust
Streaking across the night.

We are all stardust.”

There are few things I enjoy more than a graphic memoir, especially one such as this that focuses in on a small but truly significant period in someone’s life. Beautifully written and drawn. Heartbreaking and hopeful. Highly recommended.
May 31, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
I loved the history and the voice, but felt they were slightly let down by the art and the somewhat rambling storytelling. If there had been a dramatis personae to help keep the different and first name only people straight it would have helped me immensely.
Dec 21, 2014 added it
Shelves: memoir, graphic, 2014
The story of a group of people in NY in the early days of the AIDS crisis, supporting each other and smuggling drugs for the sick.
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic, memoir
A stark reminder of a bleaker time, which wasn't so long ago. An important read. ...more
Keith Schnell
Jan 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Joyce Brabner's Second Avenue Caper is important mainly for telling the story of a tragedy which, because it only affected a small and unpopular minority, is seldom told at all, much less as well as she has in this book. For those who grew up in the late 1980s when, thanks to the efforts of C. Everett Koop and others, AIDS had become a relatively well-understood public health matter of general concern, and the first effective treatments had become possible, it is easy to forget the devastating i ...more
Stewart Tame
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
When people think of comics journalism, names that come to mind include Ted Rall, Joe Sacco, Guy Delisle ... But in some ways Joyce Brabner belongs on that list as well. Or at least her work is similar. She may not be on the front lines, but she has aided those who have been in telling their stories in comics form. In this book, the war is more metaphorical: the fight against HIV in the 80's. A group of New Yorkers formed a buyers club to bring pharmaceuticals and drugs from Mexico. It's a fasci ...more
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a great story that deserves to be told in an easily-read format like this; it starts in the early days when gay men were falling sick but nobody really knew why, and is told from the point of view of someone who was there on the front lines, centered around trips some of them took to Mexico to smuggle in medication to help their friends who were dying. Engaging and honest, the story and artwork work well together.
Jo Dunn
Dec 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm new to the graphic novel genre and to happen upon Joyce Brabner (author) and Mark Zingarelli's (illustrator) collaborative effort to bring to light an accurate and enlightening depiction of the efforts of a small group of New York City activists who, in the early 1980's, took on the fight against AIDS was powerful. I have friends who are HIV+. This book resonates on a very personal level; I can't recommend it highly enough. FIVE STARS (I'd give it more if I could). ...more
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed this touching slice of the history of the AIDS epidemic during the 1980s, though "enjoyed" isn't quite the correct term.
I was not remotely aware of the details of what was going on during that decade beyond what the news media shared.

At tonight's book club, we got to enjoy (for real) discussing this book and the writing of it with the illustrator, who is a friend.
Richard Burke
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful monochrome illustrations help tell a sensitive and sometimes humorous story set during the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in New York City. Like MAUS it deals with a very serious subject and thanks to the Illustrations of Mark Zingarelli captures the personas involved. A truly wonderful graphic novel.
Nov 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: borrowed
As non-fiction should, this doesn't really follow much of a plot. Events happened. Lots of people died. The survivors endured to tell the tale.

And it is a desperate, outlandish story. Outcasts band together and break the last to get palliative drugs for their sick friends.

It's sad, and beautiful, and stories like this made the world we live in today.
Oct 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Terrific graphic novel about a real-life gay couple during the 80s AIDS crisis that sets up a clandestine drug trade in order to fund medical treatment for their afflicted friends. Not sure if it's just a common thread with graphic novels, but this one -- like so many others -- ends too soon, without the sort of resolution one would hope for. It almost feels like the author ran out of time before her deadline and kind of just slapped together an end. Not a huge problem, but you can see the exact ...more
A very quick read and informative, but I also wish the format had been different. It was told in a detached manner despite being told as a story. It might've felt stronger had we been living in the moment along with the cast, rather than a retrospective. People also leapt in and out of the main circle of characters, so it was difficult to get attached to them, having only seen them in a panel or two.... But, overall, it's an important topic and the speed of reading could make it more accessible ...more
Bruno Darío
May 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No tenía ni idea de qué iba esto y me ha fascinado. Podría hacerse una película o una serie, literalmente, con las aventuras de estos chicos. Flipante lo que tuvieron que pasar, y encima pueden contarlo aquí con toques de humor para sobrellevar la tragedia.

¿Y esa valentía y ese altruismo? No quiero ni imaginarme tener que vivir en esa época. Solo puedo quedarme pasmado por lo que tuvieron que pasar y agradecido por lo mucho que ayudaron a miles de personas del colectivo (y de fuera de él).

Otro l
Feb 27, 2015 rated it liked it
About the early years of the AIDS epidemic, when people didn't know what or how to fight. The time period is important to know about, it is too often glossed over, when it was some strange thong happening to "those people. " In this book, the story is disjointed, going too quickly from the personal to the political, and from the story of the "dealer" of the title. Also, the end is rushed, rrying to het the main character's story to the present.
The illustrations by Mark Zingarelli are fantastic t
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
A story that needed to be told. Could've been fleshed out and made into more- that was a little disappointing. ...more
Abi (The Knights Who Say Book)
I read this for a class, otherwise I wouldn't have picked it up on my own—it's a moving story, but the art style isn't for me. I prefer having color and, ideally, more stylized art in graphic novels. I found it hard to tell some characters apart in this one. Occasionally the story was also kind of abrupt and hard to follow. Still a good and fast read. ...more
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is probably the best graphic novel I’ve read in a longgg time. It’s a true story about a group of queer people and their friends fighting the AIDS epidemic from the time it came to be to its current status. It’s heartbreaking and painful and honest. A must read for anyone and everyone.
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: en-la-biblioteca
La tremenda historia de la aparición del sida vista desde dentro. Un relato desolador y profundamente humano. La sencillez de los diálogos, de la propia historia y de un dibujo característico del underground americano no diluyen la magnitud emocional de lo que ocurre. Deja huella.
Mills College Library
362.19697 B795 2014
Larry C
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
Bland artwork, detached storytelling, characters that we don't get to know or care about is what makes this book so dull. It's true, important story, but it's just not written in an interesting way. I learned more and cared more watching Dallas Buyers Club. ...more
Dec 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: the-court-years
I enjoyed this book greatly, though it is also sort of strange.

I am not sure.
Nov 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Moving true story. Middling graphic novel.
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Joyce Brabner and her family are the subject of the 2004 HBO film American Splendor about her and her late-husband, Harvey Pekar, and their life spent expanding the comic book medium beyond superheroes. She is the author of numerous books, including Our Cancer Year and nonfiction comic collaborations with Alan Moore, among many others. She lives in Cleveland, OH.

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