Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Neil Young's Greendale by Joshua Dysart and Cliff Chiang

Neil Young's Greendale by Joshua Dysart and Cliff Chiang is a graphic novel inspired by a cd (which now comes with a bonus dvd) by the same name.  To be honest, I am not a Neil Young fan, which is important for me to say because I had no contextual awareness, no clue as to what inspired this graphic novel.

With that in mind, I loved this story of a young girl's coming of age and coming into her own awareness of how each of us can and should make a difference.  It should come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with Neil Young to know that this novel is politically charged and if your leanings are not liberal then you will probably find the story distasteful.

This is unfortunate because Dysart creates a fable, using a story-telling tone that is precise and thematically perfect.  Through the narrator's voice we learn about the Green family, particularly about Sun who is burgeoning on womanhood and a very rich sense of self-awareness.  Most surprising is that the author allows the secondary characters to also have their own stories, something one doesn't often find in graphic novels.

And Chiang is an ideal choice to put words into imagery because each page exudes with emotion and further defines the meaning of the text.  The edition I read, an advanced reader's copy, arrived in black and white so I can only imagine how luscious this book will seem fully colored.  Even without the promise of a full spectrum, the visuals are wonderful and there are many panels and even a few pages where there are no words necessary to show the reader what is happening.

Approached as a mythology, it is especially powerful, a story that is meant to say more about society than it does about the characters moving across the pages.  Wonderful.  Fulfilling.  A pleasure.  A treasure.  Just wow.

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