Bob Dylan photos: early New York portraits by Ted Russell

Connoisseurs of Bob Dylan photos will want to see the exhibition of early portraits by Ted Russell, currently on show in Bob Dylan: NYC 1961-1964 at the Richard Goodall Gallery, High Street, Manchester, England.

But you’ll need to hurry – the exhibition of Bob Dylan photos was advertised as closing this Saturday, 14 November. (And I’d check with the gallery before travelling.)

The 33 Bob Dylan photos on display include historic shots of the young singer at Gerde’s Folk City and the controversial National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee Bill of Rights dinner, where Dylan received the Tom Paine Award and delivered an address which reportedly upset some fellow diners.  Ted Russell took the Bob Dylan photos in various assignments for Life magazine.

Limited edition prints of the images are on sale at £950-£1,900. The exhibition is due to travel to venues in Ireland and LA – watch ROCK ART EDITIONS for details.

Bob Dylan photos 1961-1964: new book

If, like most readers of ROCK ART EDITIONS, you can’t get to the Manchester or subsequent exhibitions, you can still enjoy the 33 images – plus 50 or so more – in the splendid book on which the show is based – Bob Dylan: NYC 1961-1964, by Ted Russell, with Chris Murray, Foreword by Donovan (NYC, Rizzoli International Publications, 2014, hardback).

Bob Dylan photos 1961-1964

Bob Dylan NYC 1961-1964, © Ted Russell/Rizzoli International Publications 2014

Bob Dylan: NYC 1961-1964 is a desirable, handsome collection, evoking a time and place which now seem shrouded in the mists of history.

Bob Dylan photos 1961-1964: my favourites

A few of the book’s Bob Dylan photos are familiar, but many others were new to me. I particularly like three sequences:

* the shots of Dylan with Suze Rotolo in their Greenwich Village apartment,

* the half dozen shots of the NECLC Bill of Rights Tom Paine Award dinner, showing Dylan being scrutinised by, and engaged in deep conversation with, radical novelist James Baldwin, an influential spokesman for the civil rights of African-Americans, and

* the pensive two-shots with tour manager Victor Maymudes, showing them (presumably) plotting Dylan’s guerrilla attack on the citadels of American popular music.

My favourite Bob Dylan photo in this lovely collection is the final shot, a grainy, gloomy shot of Dylan, guitar case in hand, marching purposefully towards the camera down a Village street: on the road again… .

Shortcomings of this wonderful collection? Very few and very minor. An additional page at the end labelling the different shoots, with captions, would enhance the book – although most aficionados of Bob Dylan photos, the audience for this fine work, will have little trouble identifying the people accompanying Dylan.

Bob Dylan: NYC 1961-1964 is a fine portfolio of Bob Dylan photos. Ted Russell’s documentation of the crucial early days of one of the greats of 20th culture places him in the premier division of early Dylan photographers, alongside better-known chroniclers like John Cohen and Don Hunstein.

Bravo Ted Russell (and collaborators)!

Copyright: book cover illustration © Ted Russell/Rizzoli International Publications 2014. Text © Gerald Smith, ROCK ART EDITIONS 2015. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

John Lydon art – new PiL album cover, What the World Needs Now

John Lydon art: painting on PiL album cover

John Lydon art – front cover of What the World Needs Now © John Lydon/Public Image Ltd 2015

John Lydon art graces the album cover of the new PiL release, What the World Needs Now.

The front cover has a scary-looking dude in a full colour faux-naif style. He looks as if he’d like to cause trouble. The back cover has a monochrome character with a similarly mean disposition.

It’s just the kind of expressive, confrontational stuff you’d expect from ex-Sex Pistol John Lydon (aka johnny Rotten). The witty, deep-thinking former Sex Pistol, the singer who used to call himself Johnny Rotten, is as engaging in his painting as he is in his music and in real life.

More John Lydon art on singles releases

Four other striking pieces of John Lydon art make up an impressive small portfolio created for the current PiL project – two pieces of cover art for the single, Double Trouble, plus covers for Bettie Page and The One, a pair of vinyl 7″ limited edition singles, due on 13 November.

Take a look at the Public Image Ltd website to enjoy this impressive mini-gallery of paintings by John Lydon.

Don Van Vliet paintings: striking canvas – by the top rock artist – on show in London

You don’t often see Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) paintings in London. But there’s a striking canvas now on show that’s well worth a visit.

Beezoo, Beezoo, perhaps one of the best known Don Van Vliet paintings, is now showing at the Michael Werner Gallery, 22 Upper Brook Street, London W1 – that is, in Mayfair, just east of Park Lane. It’s part of Body Shop, a small joint exhibition.

Don Van Vliet paintings, art by Captain Beefheart

Don Van Vliet paintings: Beezoo, Beezoo, © Don Van Vliet 1985, showing in the Michael Werner Gallery, London W1

The eye-catching painting – oil on canvas – dominates the gallery. It’s a big piece, 213cm x 183cm, and its forceful Neo-Expressionist style demands your attention. Its bold brush strokes, naif representation of the human body and apparent ignoring of formal composition reminded me of jaw-dropping works I’ve seen recently by both Jean-Michel Basquiat and Miles Davis.

Fellow francophiles will recognise that Beezoo, Beezoo, the painting’s title, is a corruption of the French familiar expression, “bisou, bisou!”, which translates as “love and kisses!”

Don Van Vliet paintings – the best rock art?

Michael Werner Gallery’s representation of Don Van Vliet paintings tells you that the artist formerly known as Captain Beefheart is highly regarded. The gallery represents and exhibits some of the stellar names in contemporary art – including some of my personal favourites such as Georg Baselitz, Sigmar Polke and A.R. Penck.

Many good judges regard Don Van Vliet paintings as the best art produced by any of the rock artists.

Don Van Vliet paintings don’t come round very often: catch Beezoo, Beezoo, a striking example, while you can!

Copyright: painting © Don Van Vliet 1985/Michael Werner Gallery 2015; text © Gerald Smith, ROCK ART EDITIONS 2015. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

Bob Dylan poster by Milton Glaser: at auction this week


Bob Dylan poster by Milton Glaser

Bob Dylan poster by Milton Glaser, © Milton Glaser 1966

A copy of the celebrated Bob Dylan poster by Milton Glaser is being auctioned this week by New York specialists Poster Auctions International, via Invaluable.

The Bob Dylan poster – one of the finest pieces of rock art available to man  – was produced by Milton Glaser in 1966, at the peak of the singer’s creative powers.

Here are the details of the Bob Dylan poster from Invaluable:

invaluable for Poster Auctions International, Lot 313, NYC 16 Oct

Estimated Price: $1,200 – $1,500

Description: Artist: MILTON GLASER (1929- ) Size: 22 x 32 3/4 in./55.6 x 83.4 cm Originally included in Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits-Volume 1 album on vinyl, this image of the singer is possibly Glaser’s most iconic design. When speaking of it, the artist mentions being influenced by Duchamps and Islamic paintings, resulting in “a style some now consider peculiarly American” (Glaser, p. 50).

Condition Report: A/ Usual fold marks.  Dimensions: 22 x 32 3/4 in./55.6 x 83.4 cm.  Artist or Maker: MILTON GLASER (1929- ).  Medium: Poster.  Date: 1966.

Bob Dylan comic books: three little-known rarities

Bob Dylan comic books

Bob Dylan comic books: Rock N’ Roll Comics #50 © Revolutionary Comics 1992

The three Bob Dylan comic books published in the Rock N’ Roll Comics series in 1992 are pretty rare.  And they are little-known: I stumbled across them for the first time a month ago – nearly a quarter of a century after they were published.

Bob Dylan comic books are a growing niche, increasingly popular among Dylan collectors. Most of the recent titles are best described as graphic biographies. They are modern, hardback, long-form books, rather than the traditional thin, paper bound magazines like Rock N’ Roll Comics.

Rock N’ Roll Comics pioneered a cartoon approach to their biographies of musicians, including their three on Bob Dylan.  They were an imprint of Revolutionary Comics (slogan: “Unauthorized and proud of it”) of San Diego, California. The company also published comic book series on pop music and sport, notably baseball. Sadly, it went out of business in 1994.

As a collector of Dylan books, I bought the three Bob Dylan comic books because I was intrigued to find out whether mixing genres – applying the avowedly lowbrow Batman-type treatment to a serious subject like Dylan – would work.  It does.

These three comic books are rare – and little-known – certainly to this English collector. They are delightful artefacts – collectable Bob Dylan art at a cut-down price.

All three Bob Dylan comic books in the series were written by Jay Allen Sanford and illustrated by Blackwell. Scott Pentzer painted the cover of #50; it’s not clear who did the other two covers.

Bob Dylan comic books #1: Kingdom Come (1961-1965)

Bob Dylan, Part One: Kingdom Come (1961-1965), Rock N’ Roll Comics #50, August 1992 tells the story well of peak period Dylan.  And it has the most striking cover (above) of the three.

Bob Dylan comic books #2: The Jester’s Thorny Crown (1966-1976)

Bob Dylan comic books

Bob Dylan comic books: Rock N’ Roll Comics #51 © Revolutionary Comics 1992

Bob Dylan, Part Two: The Jester’s Thorny Crown (1966-1976), Rock N’ Roll Comics #51, Sept 1992 handles a complex decade of Dylan’s development with assurance. To my eyes, its cover is the weakest of the three.

Bob Dylan comic books #3: Hard Rain A Comin’

Bob Dylan, Part Three: Hard Rain A Comin’, Rock N’ Roll Comics #52, Oct 1992, the concluding part of the Bob Dylan comic books trilogy, is my least favourite.  But it’s still good enough to make you wish for a sequel to bring the story up to date.

The cover of #52 has a wistful, middle-aged Bob, looking perplexed, staring into the distance. You’ll probably know where it originated.

Bob Dylan comic books

Bob Dylan comic books: Rock N’ Roll Comics #52, © Revolutionary Comics 1992

Bob Dylan comic books: overview

These three comic books are worthwhile additions to any Bob Dylan art library: as a collector, I’m pleased to have acquired them.

The Rock N’ Roll Comics concept – comics for grown-up music fans – is both ambitious and compelling. It elevates the art of the comic book above the pulp level aimed at children or poor adult readers. The comic books tackle serious subjects, give them context and present them in a format which will satisfy even the demanding reader.

You could take the view that, judged against the best books on the musician, these Bob Dylan comic books are relatively weak – presenting a slightly juvenile, dumbed-down version of the Dylan story.  But judged on their own terms, as cheap pulp non-fiction extolling a cult figure revered by a cult audience, they work well.

Bob Dylan comic books: the words

The comics’ texts give you a reasonable summary of a (then) 30-year career, covering many key aspects of the musician’s life and achievements.

The device of inserting “Chronolog” sidebars on each page enriches the Dylan narrative – they contextualise his creativity through a (US-centric) diary of what else was happening at the time.

The text of the comic books isn’t the strongest, however.  The dialogue doesn’t always flow like natural speech. And there’s the odd factual error – Dylan’s 1962 trip to London to record Madhouse on Castle Street was for a BBC TV show (not a radio show, as claimed).

Spelling errors occasionally pop out – “wierd”, “recieved”, “disguarded”, “course-ground”… .

Bob Dylan comic books: the pictures

The best illustrations in the three books are impressive. I enjoyed the quartet of startled folkies realising that they’d stumbled into a rock show at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.

Overall, though, the illustrations are a mixed bag. Bob Dylan can often seem like a different person from page to page. And you occasionally need the text to work out that you’re looking at The Beatles… Mick Jagger… The Band… .

The art doesn’t match the excellence of the three comic books reviewed here a few weeks ago.

But comic books in general have moved on since 1992. Series like Rock N’ Roll Comics were necessarily produced at a great lick, to tight deadlines.  More modern comic book creators can lavish more attention and take longer over their work.  Hence, the books cost more to produce.  And are more expensive.

The cover artwork of the three Bob Dylan comics is variable. The first cover of the trio (#50), head and shoulders of Dylan looking arrogant, smoking, with a background of him walking the streets, somewhat wistfully, is my favourite.  Number 51 is the weakest. Number 52 is an attractive reworking of the album cover of Under The Red Sky.

This rarely seen trio of Bob Dylan comic books is both desirable and collectable.

It’s complemented by issues in the series covering several key rock bands, notably The Rolling Stones (#6), Led Zeppelin (#13), The Doors (#26 and 27) and The Grateful Dead.

If you know of similar Bob Dylan comic books from other publishers, please share your expert knowledge with readers of ROCK ART EDITIONS – Leave a reply at the top of this post. Thanks in advance,

Copyright: Rock N’ Roll Comics covers #50, #51 and #52 © Revolutionary Comics 1992; photos © Gerald Smith, ROCK ART EDITIONS 2015; text © Gerald Smith, ROCK ART EDITIONS 2015. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

Bob Dylan art: Face Value portrait “contemptible” – Brian Sewell, top English critic

ROCK ART EDITIONS published an earlier version of this post in October 2014. It’s republished here to commemorate Brian Sewell, art critic of the London Evening Standard. He’s the best-known English critic, particularly among those who share his rejection of much contemporary art. Brian Sewell died last weekend, aged 84.

Bob Dylan art gets the thumbs down: his Skip Sharpe portrait is “Contemptible.  Just rubbish”.  It should not have been exhibited by the National Portrait Gallery, according to top critic Brian Sewell, in his Pop Goes The Easel, a scathing survey of rock musicians who paint.

Q magazine published Sewell’s damning piece in November 2013, to coincide with the Bob Dylan Face Value show at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Bob Dylan art: Face Value

Skip Sharpe by Bob Dylan, Face Value exhibition 2013. © Bob Dylan 2013

Bob Dylan art “just rubbish”, Macca paintings “childish rubbish”

The critic goes on to lambast other rock-musicians-turned-painters. He dismisses artwork by Beatles bassist Paul McCartney as “childish rubbish”. Edwyn Collins’ artwork shows promise… when judged as the work of a 14-year old! Daniel Johnston’s Captain America is “… just awful.  Utter, utter rubbish”.

Funny, that.  I enjoyed the Bob Dylan art in the Face Value exhibition, a small gallery of distinctive portraits, held in 2013. The portraits are representative Bob Dylan art – they successfully capture Dylan’s penetrating, sceptical, questioning worldview. My only criticism was that the show didn’t have enough pictures.

Bob Dylan art: judge for yourself – catalogue still available

You can judge for yourself the Bob Dylan art dismissed by Sewell. Bob Dylan Face Value, a handsome, collectable catalogue, published by the National Portrait Gallery, London, is still widely available.

Bob Dylan art: Face Value catalogue

Bob Dylan Face Value catalogue © National Portrait Gallery 2013

I was also impressed by Paul McCartney: Paintings, the 1999 and 2000 catalogues of the Beatle’s artwork: I’m not keen on Macca’s music, but I do like his painting.

Brian Sewell is a celebrated London-based art critic known for his lively journalism and entertaining TV appearances. He tends not to, er, sit on the fence.

The dismissive tone in his Q article was echoed in the recent assessment of some rocker-painters by Guardian critic Jonathan Jones, covered here last week. (Bob Dylan got off lightly.)

I’m collecting critical commentaries – positive and negative – on Bob Dylan art and work by other rock musicians who paint, to discuss on ROCK | ART | EDITIONS.  If you come across any critiques, please Leave a reply, at the top of this article.  Thanks, in advance.


Copyright: images © Bob Dylan and © National Portrait Gallery, London, as indicated in captions.  Brian Sewell quotations © Q magazine.  Text © Gerald Smith, ROCK ART EDITIONS 2015.  Unauthorised reproduction prohibited. 

Miles Davis statue: Alton joins Nice and Kielce

Miles Davis statue in Alton, Illinois, USA

Miles Davis statue in Alton, by Preston Jackson, photo © The Telegraph, Alton

The unveiling of the new Miles Davis statue in Alton, Illinois last week delighted fans, both of Miles and of rock art.

The Alton statue is testimony to Miles Davis’ ever-growing stature as a giant of twentieth century culture. And, hot on the heels of the unveiling of the Bob Dylan mural in Minneapolis, it underlines the increasing popularity of street rock art.

Welcoming Alton’s new Miles Davis statue, I found myself comparing it with Miles Davis statues in Nice, France and in Kielce, Poland.  How similar are they?  How do they differ?

Miles Davis statue #1 Alton, Illinois

The striking new Alton statue, by sculptor Preston Jackson, is life-size, and cast in bronze. It portrays Miles, probably around 1970, as he was veering from classic chamber jazz to jazz-rock fusion. It’s a realistic piece – it’s obvious from a glance that you’re looking at Miles Davis. Sculptor Jackson didn’t indulge his artistic licence or impose any idiosyncratic stylisation on the work.

The Alton Miles Davis statue, centrally located at 137 West Third Street, will have a big impact, because it’s very good and because of its powerful local resonance – Miles was born in Alton, and its citizens will be enormously proud to be reminded of their most famous son.

All praise artist Preston Jackson and the Miles Davis Memorial Project, which commissioned the statue.

Miles Davis statue #2, Nice, France

The new Alton artwork looks nothing like the Miles Davis statue in Nice, France. Dating from 1999, the Nice statue is the work of French artist Niki de Saint Phalle.

Her statue isn’t intended to be realistic: it’s double life-size, portraying Davis as portly-going-on-obese trumpeter. It’s in the signature style Niki de Saint Phalle made famous – plump, joyous individuals Hell-bent on having a good time. It’s fun, so it’s finished in bright primary colours.

Miles Davis statue, Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France

Miles Davis statue, Hotel Negresco, Nice, by Niki de Saint Phalle, photo © ROCK ART EDITIONS

Nice’s Miles Davis statue is located outside the city’s landmark Hotel Negresco on La Promenade des Anglais, the iconic seafront thoroughfare of the French Riviera.

The Miles Davis statue in Nice has local resonance, though admittedly not as strong as Alton’s. Miles Davis was a frequent performer at jazz festivals on this coast, both in Nice and nearby Juan-les-Pins.

Nice also honours Davis with a public pathway named after him (Allee Miles Davis) in Le Parc des Arenes de Cimiez, the original site of the Nice Jazz Festival.

Artist Niki de Saint Phalle also had strong Nice connections – you can see other delightfully playful statues by her, just east along the Promenade, outside Le Palais de la Mediterranee.  And you can see her distinctive work at MAMAC, the city’s splendid modern and contemporary art museum.

Miles Davis statue #3, Kielce, Poland

You can see a third fine Miles Davis statue in Kielce, Poland.  Like the Alton work, it’s a life-size bronze, this time portraying an ageing Miles, trumpet to his lips, wearing a heavy topcoat against the local weather.

I’ve yet to see this artwork and would welcome comments on it from readers familiar with it.  I’m also unsure who had the enviable vision and skill to create it.  If you know more about this lovely artwork, please Leave a reply, above.

Polish jazz: the Miles Davis statue in Kielce

Miles Davis statue, Kielce, Poland, photo © Staszek Szybki Jest 2006, Creative Commons License

Other Miles Davis statues?

All three wonderful Miles Davis statues, in Alton, Nice and Kielce, pay homage to the legacy of a cultural giant.  They’re the only three I’m aware of, and I suspect there might well be others: if you know of any, please Leave a reply to this post.

Thanks, in advance.


Copyright: artwork and photographs as per captions; text Gerald Smith, ROCK ART EDITIONS 2015.  Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

Bob Dylan mural: bravo Minneapolis!

Bob Dylan mural in Minnneapolis, Minnesota, USA

New Bob Dylan mural in Minneapolis, MN © Eduardo Kobra/StarTribune/Tom Sweeney 2015

A wonderful new Bob Dylan mural has just been unveiled: bravo Minneapolis!

The enormous Bob Dylan mural, realised in a just couple of weeks, is now the world’s largest, most impressive piece of Bob Dylan-related art. It also becomes the planet’s most prominent, most exciting piece of public rock art.

The new Bob Dylan mural is a fine work. Its composition, portraying three different Bob Dylans, sensibly resists the temptation to show Dylan only in his mid-1960s pomp. It reflects the fact that Bob Dylan has been a major creative force for over half a century. Good call.

Its enormous scale, vibrant colour palette and mixture of realistic portraiture and abstract embellishment make it a pleasure to look at.

Its prominent location lends the Bob Dylan mural an appropriate grandeur. You wouldn’t miss it while pounding the city streets. According to StarTribune, the Minneapolis daily newspaper, you can see the new Bob Dylan mural on the corner of 5th Street and Hennepin Avenue.

Fans of rock art – and Bob Dylan – are indebted to artist Eduardo Kobra and his team for delivering such a striking piece. And to Goldman Sachs, owners of the wall, and Hennepin Theatre Trust, who managed the project.

The lovely photo (above) by Tom Sweeney captures the piece in its virgin state and places it in context, its urban setting in Minneapolis. The StarTribune has a gallery of photos of the Bob Dylan mural in various stages of completion. It’s a telling, historic sequence of pictures. They would make the centrepiece of a fine collectable book celebrating the magnificent artwork.

Bob Dylan mural – the world’s premier public rock artwork?

But is the new Bob Dylan mural really the world’s premier public rock artwork?

Well, I can’t think of a better piece. Can you?

Public rock art is a newish medium. So there’s not much competition. Not yet. Rock musicians are being celebrated in public artwork, as more towns and cities around the world start chasing the tourist dollar. The new Bob Dylan mural could persuade many other communities to celebrate their local musical heroes.

In London, the pieces of street rock art I’m familiar with include: Amy Winehouse statue in Camden; Billy Fury mural in nearby West Hampstead; Smiths mural on the South Bank; and numerous blue plaques such as that commemorating Bob Marley’s brief stay in Bloomsbury.

If you know of other public artworks in your part of the world, please Leave a reply, above, and I’ll be pleased to cover them in ROCK ART EDITIONS. Thanks in advance.

Copyright: artwork © Eduardo Kobra 2015; photograph © StarTribune/Tom Sweeney 2015; text © Gerald Smith, ROCK ART EDITIONS 2015. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

Leonard Cohen photos: new exhibition documenting the 2008-13 tour

Leonard Cohen photos

Leonard Cohen photos – in concert 2008-2013, © Michael Bromford 2015

A fine new collection of Leonard Cohen photos is now showing in an exhibition in Sherborne, a market town in Dorset, SW England.

The photos are the work of Michael Bromford.  He shot them at the thirty gigs he attended during the once-in-a-generation Leonard Cohen tour of 2008-13. Bromford is exhibiting them in his Global Images Gallery until 26 February 2016.

In addition to the performance photographs of Leonard Cohen, the collection has action shots of all the band members, including Sharon Robinson and Bob Metzger. Michael Bromford is well qualified as a source of Cohen photos – he’s a pro photographer as well as a superfan.

Leonard Cohen photos: online gallery, catalogue and posters

Fans and collectors who can’t make the trip to Sherborne can see the exhibition of Leonard Cohen photos in Michael Bromford’s dedicated online gallery. And they can buy the photos as a catalogue and a series of posters.

Bob Dylan comic books: three must-buys

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.

Bob Dylan comic books: Pablo

Bob Dylan 1961/1963 © Pablo/BDMUSIC

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.

Bpb Dylan comic books: Smudja

Dylan Faces Book © Smudja/Zanpano

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

Bob Dylan comic books: 13 artists

Bob Dylan Revisited © Guy Delcourt Productions 2008

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.

Publisher links:
WW Norton


Copyrights: text – © Rock Art Editions 2015; book covers – as indicated in captions. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.