The Story of How David Jones Became David Bowie Gets Told in a New Graphic Novel

What, exact­ly, turned David Jones into David Bowie? Observers have been ask­ing that ques­tion ever since the artis­ti­cal­ly inclined rock star — who, we might say, made rock star­dom into a viable art form in the first place — began his high-pro­file exper­i­men­ta­tion with his own image in the ear­ly 1970s. Hav­ing put out his first big hit “Space Odd­i­ty” a few years before that, in 1969, he spent the peri­od in between liv­ing, with his then-wife Ang­ie, at a Vic­to­ri­an vil­la in South Lon­don called Had­don Hall. “The cou­ple rent­ed a ground-floor flat for £7 a week – the Spi­ders from Mars were, I think, sequestered around an upstairs land­ing – and in one of its cav­ernous rooms, their ceil­ings paint­ed sil­ver, Ang­ie cut David’s hair and stitched the first Zig­gy out­fit.”

Those words come from the Guardian’s Rachel Cooke, review­ing the bio­graph­i­cal graph­ic nov­el Had­don Hall: When David Invent­ed Bowie. “Its author, the Tunisian-born French car­toon­ist Nejib, puts Bowie’s lost house cen­tre stage, David and Ang­ie hav­ing fall­en instant­ly in love with its dis­creet decrepi­tude, its tow­ers and mould­ings and pre­pos­ter­ous­ly long cor­ri­dors,” she writes. “Nejib is won­der­ful­ly alive to the influ­ences on Bowie in this cru­cial peri­od, from the final ill­ness of his father, John, to Stan­ley Kubrick’s 1971 film adap­ta­tion of A Clock­work Orange (leav­ing the cin­e­ma after see­ing it, the still strug­gling Bowie sud­den­ly sees what he should be: a rock star ‘who’s all destruc­tion and the future’).”

A Bowie schol­ar could argue that his and Ang­ie’s Had­don Hall years pro­vid­ed the space for the most cru­cial ges­ta­tion peri­od and space in his career. In an inter­view with the Her­ald, Nejib relates his dis­sat­is­fac­tion with extant Bowie biogra­phies, and how one biog­ra­ph­er even admits that writ­ing a sat­is­fy­ing one may be “rather impos­si­ble because Bowie is a fic­tion cre­at­ed by David Jones, a very secret man. I loved that idea and I con­sid­er Bowie as one of the most pow­er­ful fic­tion­al cre­ations of this peri­od. That was very lib­er­at­ing for me to make this ‘por­trait’ of Bowie in a graph­ic nov­el,” which he describes as “not a doc­u­men­tary, but a fic­tion,” based on more than just facts and as a result “a mix of many things.”

More fas­ci­nat­ed by “fragili­ty and doubt than suc­cess and star­dom,” Nejib — whose art style brings to mind car­toons seen in mag­a­zines of the late 1960s and ear­ly 1970s — focus­es on a “gap” in Bowie’s life as its sto­ry has pre­vi­ous­ly been told: “The man is close to becom­ing the genius we know, but he is full of doubt. I was inspired by an inter­view in which he said that he felt that all his influ­ences were merg­ing and he felt that it was the moment for him to make the big jump!” And make the big jump he did, not just once but over and over again through­out the course of his life, rein­vent­ing him­self both musi­cal­ly and as a per­sona when­ev­er nec­es­sary. What­ev­er impor­tance any giv­en Bowie fan grants his time in Had­don Hall, they’ve got to admit that those years make for a tale best told visu­al­ly.

You can pick up your own copy of Nejib’s graph­ic nov­el, Had­don Hall: When David Invent­ed Bowie.

via Hyper­al­ler­gic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Sto­ry of Zig­gy Star­dust: How David Bowie Cre­at­ed the Char­ac­ter that Made Him Famous

David Bowie & Bri­an Eno’s Col­lab­o­ra­tion on “Warsza­wa” Reimag­ined in a Com­ic Ani­ma­tion

96 Draw­ings of David Bowie by the “World’s Best Com­ic Artists”: Michel Gondry, Kate Beat­on & More

50 Years of Chang­ing David Bowie Hair Styles in One Ani­mat­ed GIF

How Leonard Cohen & David Bowie Faced Death Through Their Art: A Look at Their Final Albums

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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