A friend of mine provided me with a digital version of Michael Jackson in Comics, a 190-page item from NBM Graphic Novels, officially released on February 12. Conceptually, I liked the idea of a narrative, broken up by various artists showing bits of the story.
It’s interesting to me that I actually knew a fair amount of the Michael Jackson story beforehand. I was familiar with his abusively controlling father, Joe trying to whip the Jackson 5 into shape. Like millions, I watched the 25th anniversary of Motown, when he debuted the moonwalk. But I had forgotten about his friendship with young Ryan White, who had become the face of HIV/AIDS in America.
Specifically, I wrote a paper in library school about how MTV didn’t allow black artists on the channel until the Columbia/Epic label threatened to pull ALL of their artists. Now, it’s hard to think of MTV without the videos from the Thriller album.
But the writer gingerly deals with the more “wacko” elements, such as his surgeries, his children, and the allegations of abusing young boys. Clearly, he believes Michael’s versions of the stories or thinks we just don’t know the facts.
The graphic pieces, done in the many styles, I enjoyed, for the most part. I preferred the pieces that actually expressed a point of view, rather than merely restating what was in the text. In particular, I thought Vox’s The Man With the White Socks, about a goofy fan, was a bit humorous.
I take it that someone named Céka wrote both the text and scripted biography. He’s noted on Amazon as “also the author of the Rolling Stones in Comics. Formerly a copywriter in advertising, he has scripted over 30 graphic novels.”
The narrative is much better with the art. While some of the text was necessary, especially in the beginning and the very end, the story got very repetitive. If those text sections were edited down by about 50%, it would be a much better collection.
Moreover, he tended to use a lot of exclamation marks unnecessarily! And whoever did the layout would put hyphens to break up words in a most bizarre way! Mon-ths, for instance!
MJ was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Twice in five years. As the introduction to Michael Jackson in Comics notes, well beyond his passing in 2009, he “remains one of the most adulated and mysterious stars in the world.” I expect that is still true.
“Incredible singer, brilliant musician, amazing performer, he was just as talented as he was eccentric, adored as well as reviled with sordid accusations, sadly caught between a stolen childhood and a suffocating star system.”