The Story of Ziggy Stardust Gets Chronicled in a New Graphic Novel, Featuring a Foreword by Neil Gaiman

Film has always been a medi­um that seeks to enter­tain as well as edi­fy, fram­ing thrills and chills for prof­it, and fram­ing com­po­si­tions deserv­ing of the label of “art.” Very often it has done both at the same time. Every casu­al stu­dent of the medi­um will, at least, admit this much. But nev­er have the dif­fer­ences between movie art and enter­tain­ment seemed as mag­ni­fied and polar­ized as they are now, in the midst of debates about com­ic book fran­chis­es and the fine art we call cin­e­ma.

What­ev­er the rea­sons, film has not reached the détente between art and enter­tain­ment achieved by pop­u­lar music—another medi­um depen­dent on late-19th/20th cen­tu­ry record­ing tech­nolo­gies and born of a thor­ough­ly mod­ern com­mer­cial matrix. Of course, not all pop aspires to art. But the idea that music can be huge­ly entertaining—drawing on the “low” gen­res of fan­ta­sy, sci­ence fic­tion, and com­ic books—and also wor­thy of cul­tur­al immor­tal­i­ty has become uncon­tro­ver­sial in large part because of the career of one musi­cian.

David Bowie, rock and roll’s orig­i­nal space alien super­hero, used his bank­able per­son­ae through the decades to give cre­dence to the idea of “art rock,” to real­ize its glam pos­si­bil­i­ties, to turn the rock auteur into an actor. He learned from a host of exper­i­menters, both his direct influ­ences and his spir­i­tu­al pre­de­ces­sors. And he inspired a legion of suc­ces­sors who weren’t afraid to play char­ac­ters in their work, to mix inter­ests in phi­los­o­phy, lit­er­a­ture, and the occult with the flam­boy­ant, campy styles of the comics. (A mix comics them­selves played with in both pop­u­lar and under­ground man­i­fes­ta­tions.)

Bowie embod­ied the future when he appeared on the scene as Zig­gy in 1972, after years of labor­ing in obscu­ri­ty and a few fleet­ing brush­es with fame. “The incar­na­tions of David Bowie were, in them­selves, sci­ence fic­tion­al, “writes Neil Gaiman in the for­ward to a new graph­ic nov­el, BOWIE: Star­dust, Ray­guns, & Moon­age Day­dreams, which tells the sto­ry of Bowie’s rise as Zig­gy. “All I was miss­ing was a Bowie com­ic,” says Gaiman of his own fan­dom. “And, miss­ing it, I would draw bad Bowie comics myself.” Zig­gy Star­dust espe­cial­ly called for such treat­ment.

Bowie wore the glam rock Mar­t­ian mask with such com­mit­ment no one doubt­ed that he meant it—only what, exact­ly, he meant by it. “He defied clas­si­fi­ca­tion,” notes Simon & Schus­ter, “with his psy­che­del­ic aes­thet­ics, his larg­er-than-life image, and his way of hov­er­ing on the bor­der of the sur­re­al.” Fit­ting­ly, the com­ic is drawn by an artist who real­ized a psy­che­del­ic, sur­re­al­ist cre­ative vision of Neil Gaiman’s: Michael Allred, who worked on the Sand­man series.

The sto­ry, “part biog­ra­phy and part imag­i­na­tion,” reports Rolling Stone, is writ­ten by Steve Hor­ton and col­ored by Lau­ra Allred. You can order a copy here.

via Rolling Stone

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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

David Bowie Songs Reimag­ined as Pulp Fic­tion Book Cov­ers: Space Odd­i­ty, Heroes, Life on Mars & More

Fred­die Mer­cury Reimag­ined as Com­ic Book Heroes

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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