Godspeed: The Kurt Cobain Graphic by Barnaby Legg, Jim McCarthy, and Flameboy


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Wow, where do I begin?  I couldn’t resist the novelty of this, but I feel a little dirty after having read it.  This is pretty much a fairy tale, not a biography.  I don’t think the authors had any intention of writing a realistic biography, but how do you write a “fictional biography” (as a graphic novel no less) about someone like Kurt Cobain?  I don’t know.

The book is told from Kurt’s first person perspective looking back on his life after he has committed suicide.  Obviously from the very beginning, liberties are taken imagining what Kurt might have to say and what he was thinking. The last few days of his life are a mystery and so certainly the authors here are imagining, just as other biographers have imagined, what happened in that time period.

I have read about many of the major scenes in this book in other well-researched biographies.  Other information and dialogue appears to have been taken directly from interviews.  The questionable material is much of Kurt’s inner dialogue and his thinking process.  Since the book is told in the first person from his perspective, that can be a problem for discerning readers.

The artwork is okay, but I think it is hard to capture the grunge scene of the early 90s in glossy comic art.  It was kind of anti-glossy, you know?  The religious symbolism- Kurt with halos, Kurt with a crown of thorns, Kurt at the last supper/drug intervention- is ridiculous and only serves to perpetuate the rock icon myth, which he loved and despised at the same time.  The man was mentally ill and self medicated with heroin.  He was a brilliant songwriter and musician, but he was not sacrificing himself and he certainly wasn’t innocent.

All in all I see this being something teenagers, who don’t know the facts, would like.  It’s all about the fairy tale rock-star-rebel-hero myth, which angst ridden teens eat up.  I know because I used to be one of those angst ridden teens, and I was coming-of-age when Nirvana exploded.  Looking back, the music has weathered well.  It’s still brilliant.  All of the rest, well… I guess I’m getting old.

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