You could have almost predicted the arrival of Bob Dylan comic books: the growing popularity of Bob Dylan art and the boom in comic books made them virtually inevitable.
I’ve recently stumbled across – and snapped up – three must-buys. All three of these Bob Dylan comic books are worth the serious attention of rock art fans.
Bob Dylan comic books #1: Bob Dylan 1961/1963, by Pablo
On a recent trip to Paris, I came across Bob Dylan 1961/1963, by Pablo, a strikingly beautiful little artefact. It has 15 of Pablo’s expressive charcoal sketches of Bob Dylan, all inspired by song titles, plus a couple of artist-enhanced colour photos.
The drawings are accompanied by a biographical text, in both French and English. And you get two CDs – the first two Bob Dylan albums, plus bonus extras: The Freewheelin’, for example, has six tracks from the well-known Cynthia Gooding radio show.
Pablo is a multi-faceted artist who has previously contributed similar work, on Mozart and Serge Gainsbourg, for publisher BDMUSIC, who have been publishing for a couple of decades in this attractive, innovative format – hardback comic book, plus CDs. They usually cover jazz and blues musicians. This Bob Dylan comic book is the first title I’ve seen featuring a rock musician.
BDMUSIC’s Bob Dylan comic book, on sale last week in Gibert Joseph, my favourite Paris retailer, as well as FNAC, is priced at 20 euros.
Bob Dylan comic books #2: Dylan Faces Book, by Smudja
On a previous Paris trip, I happened across another little gem, Dylan Faces Book by Smudja, published by Zanpano (2009) in a limited edition of 1,000.
Not strictly speaking a Bob Dylan comic book, Dylan Faces Book by Smudja is a series of about 150 portraits of the ever-changing icon, reproductions of the artist’s moody water colours.
The copy of Dylan Faces Book that I bought at Librairie Paralleles, near les Halles, for 22 euros, is the only copy I’ve ever seen.
Bob Dylan comic books #3: Bob Dylan Revisited
Artist Smudja also contributed to the third of my must-buy Bob Dylan comic books, Bob Dylan Revisited: 13 Graphic Interpretations of Bob Dylan’s Songs (WW Norton, 2009).
Smudja’s drawing, evoking the celebrated Savoy Hotel (London) video, adorns the front cover. He also contributes the chapter interpreting the song Hurricane.
The thirteen artists contributing to Bob Dylan Revisited exhibit a remarkably varied range of visual styles in their evocation of Dylan songs, from Blowin’ In The Wind to Not Dark Yet.
Bob Dylan Revisited is the richest, most ambitious of these three Bob Dylan comic books. The thirteen different artists’ styles are consistently outstanding. If I were forced, at gunpoint, to choose a favourite, I’d probably plump for Francois Avril’s Girl From The North Country.
Bob Dylan Revisited is also the most widely available of these three Bob Dylan comic books, thanks to the distribution reach of its US publisher WW Norton, who created the work by adapting an earlier French version.
I’ve occasionally seen Bob Dylan Revisited heavily discounted – surprising, considering its high quality. My photo, above, shows a window display copy at The Last Bookshop, the Oxford remainders outlet. When I visited – some time ago – they were selling from a big pile, at a giveaway £3 per copy.
The Pablo, Smudja and Norton books are all highly recommended.
Bob Dylan comic books? Or graphic novels? Or even bandes dessinees?
But I’m unsure of the best term to describe these types of book. Comic books? The most common, but these books aren’t comic! Graphic novels? Graphic certainly, but they’re hardly novels.
I’m comfortable with the French term, Bandes dessinees, but I’d welcome your guidance on the best English-language term to use to describe this desirable new category of Bob Dylan art.
Copyrights: text – © Rock Art Editions 2015; book covers – as indicated in captions. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.