In 1973, just before closing down OZ magazine, Felix Dennis asked a number of artists to choose a favourite Bob Dylan lyric, make an anagram of its title, and draw a strip. The book never appeared and Dave Gibbons’ artwork went missing – of course, years later, Dylan lyrics do appear in Watchmen. The only piece that seems to have survived is The Fifth Organ (Father of Night) by Paddy (Pudsy) Morris which finally saw print after 35 years in Ganjaman Presents #1.
Bob Dylan Revisited (published by WW Norton, current publishers of Will Eisner) contains 13 wonderful strips by comics artists from France, Italy, Belgium, Serbia, and the UK. The best known European artist over here is probably Lorenzo Mattotti (Fires), winner of the Eisner Award for Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde. He has done a rather moving strip based on Hard Rain.
I expect everyone will know Dave McKean, if only for his brilliant collaboration with Grant Morrison, Arkham Asylum. His take on Desolation Row is typically enigmatic, but we do get to see TS Eliot arguing with Ezra Pound, so I liked that.
Hurricane is given a more traditional narrative treatment by the wonderful Gradimir Smudja who had previously won acclaim for graphic novels about Toulouse-Lautrec and Van Gogh.
The book starts with Thierry Murat interpreting Blowin’ In The Wind with his own words and pictures which are reminiscent of Dylan’s own artwork in the Drawn Blank series. I also loved Girl From The North Country by Francois Avril and Positively 4th Street by Christopher and… You get the idea.
My only minor gripe with the package is that there are no biographies/bibliographies of the contributors. The edition I have ends with 4 blank pages – surely enough to give readers unfamiliar with the work of these great artists a guide to their careers.
The book ends with Not Dark Yet interpreted by Zep. There are 4 striking images of Dylan through the decades. Zep took his alias from his early love for Led Zeppelin (his other name is Philippe Chappuis) and he often has references to music in his work including his favourite artist who just happens to be Bob Dylan. No wonder Zep is a 3 times award winner at Angouleme.
Robert Allen Zimmerman was born in Duluth on 24th May 1941. The character he created, Bob Dylan, celebrates his 80th birthday next week. This book is a welcome publication for fans of Dylan and/or graphic art. Buy it, put on the music, and lose yourself with these great creators.