David Bowie Graphic Novel Relives the Fantastical Life of the Music Icon
Fri, December 3, 2021

David Bowie Graphic Novel Relives the Fantastical Life of the Music Icon

David Bowie's memory and contribution to the industry are kept alive through documentaries and tributes. / Photo by Paulo Eduardo Canedo Nabas via 123rf

 

The past decade has seen the passing of some of the entertainment industry's greatest treasures. Among them was rock n' roll star David Bowie, whose memory and contribution to the industry are kept alive through documentaries and tributes. Now, a full-length graphic novel is set to be released to honor one of the leading figures in music.

The graphic novel was announced on January 8, 2019, which would've been Bowie's 72nd birthday. Set to be released in January 2020, it captures the vibrant life of the music icon as he rose to the top of the entertainment world.


A story of reinvention

Insight Comics will release the graphic novel depicting Bowie's life. Michale Allred, the artist who worked on award-winning author Neil Gaiman's "The Sandman," paired up with "Amala's Blade" writer Steve Horton and "Madman" colorist Laura Allred to revive Bowie's fantastical life through illustrations.

Titled "Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns & Moonage Daydreams," the novel was described by music magazine Rolling Stone as a "story of reinvention" as it allows readers to follow the music icon from his mundane life as David Jones and his emergence in the mid-60s London rock scene.

While the illustrations are based on true-to-life stories of Bowie's recording sessions and shows, it also depicts fictional narratives such as imaginary conversations in space between the rock star and Ziggy Stardust, his legendary alter-ego from Mars. Rolling Stone added that the graphic novel will also look into Ziggy's origins up until his inevitable end, where he leaves before the start of Bowie's subsequent manifestation in "The Thin White Duke."

The graphic biography's synopsis read: "In life, David Bowie was one of the most magnetic icons of modern pop culture, seducing generations of fans with both his music and his counterculture persona. In death, the cult of Bowie has only intensified.

"As a musician alone, Bowie’s legacy is remarkable, but his place in the popular imagination is due to so much more than his music. As a visual performer, he defied classification with his psychedelic aesthetics, his larger-than-life image, and his way of hovering on the border of the surreal."

Meanwhile, Gaiman wrote the foreword for the book in which he described Bowie's "incarnations" as "in themselves, science-fictional" and that a comic was the only thing missing. The author, who was a fan of the enigmatic music icon since he was young, said he would draw "Bad bowie comics" himself when he misses those early times.

 

 

The love for Bowie

Gaiman wasn't the only Bowie fan who worked on the anticipated graphic novel. In fact, the creators themselves were admirers of the late superstar. It's this fact that makes "Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns & Moonage Daydreams" so intimate that it is not just another biography but one that is made by the fans themselves.

When asked why the creators chose the Spiders era as the endpoint of the narrative, Allred and Horton noted that it was a look back into Bowie's career and the start of his shot to superstardom.

"It’s where it all began, right?" Allred said, speaking with entertainment site Heat Vision. "And it’s the era that I was introduced to in a tidal wave of pure rock and roll joy! If we were limited to one big bite to start, this was it."

The novel also features Bowie's connections with other iconic music figures like the late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, Elton John, and Frank-n-Furter. Getting them to fit in all the cameos was "pure bliss."

"Cameos are a super fun way to both provide context and showcase Mike's amazing renditions of Freddie Mercury, Frank-n-Furter, Monty Python, Elton John, and the rest," Horton said. "Bowie's peers were some of the best entertainers in history. Why not have them be guest stars or cameos?"

The idea of drawing on Bowie's iconography and other influences from the era came from Allred's visual interpretations inspired by the artist's music and influenced the illustrator's art and storytelling. Allred said it was easy for him to imagine "larger-than-life" imagery to tell Bowie's story "and to make pop culture as well as pop art connections every step of the way."

For Horton, biographies should be more than what happened in someone's life. "What did it feel like, visually, to experience Bowie's life?"

 

The idea of drawing on Bowie's iconography and other influences from the era came from Allred's visual interpretations inspired by the artist's music and influenced the illustrator's art and storytelling. / Photo by Paweł Opaska via 123rf


Going into detail

The creators mentioned "Rocketman," the Elton John Biopic, and the "Red Rocket 7" book where Allred "documented the history of rock and roll through the eyes of an alien clone." Heat Vision asked if mentioning those titles means they want to do more work in a similar vein.

The entertainment site added that the Bowie-inspired book "feels like an extension of 'Red Rocket 7'...but also like a reinvigoration of the old musical biography comics of yore" where there is more needed to be discovered.

Allred mentioned that he has begun outlining other musical obsessions but that he would "very much love to document David Bowie’s entire life and creative output in detail."

"I hope my closing montage documenting the rest of his life serves as a kind of preview trailer for what could follow," the illustrator said.

Horton shared the same sentiments, saying that he "would love to do another music graphic novel, whether nonfiction or fiction."