Tuesday, 12 January 2016

So, Farewell then, David Bowie

David Bowie. Singer. Songwriter. Actor. Cultural icon. Comics reader.

Everyone on the planet (it seems) is paying their tribute to the man. A world without Bowie seems unthinkable.

I could start by pointing out the influence of comics on his works. "Supermen" from Hunky Dory, for example. Or the same album's "Oh! You Pretty Things" with its repeated refrain "Gotta make way for the Homo Superior", a phrase taken from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's Uncanny X-Men.

Or Uncle Arthur, the opening track from his first album.
Arthur is a man in his thirties who "still reads comics" and "follows Batman". Imagine that. *shuffles feet*

And his first wife really wanted to play Black Widow.

But it turns out one of his best known songs was not based on this guy:
His influence spread far and wide and that includes our favourite medium. The works of Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman and Kieron Gillen would be very different without the barriers Bowie broke down.
Morrison apparently based his version of the Joker during his Batman run on him, even titling one story "The Thin White Duke of Death". A more obvious influence is Lucifer, as first seen in Gaiman's Sandman.
Gaiman wanted him to be like early Bowie and artist Kelley Jones obeyed.
Matt Fraction also based Casanova's nemesis Luther Desmond Diamond on him.
Art by Gabriel Ba. 
It seems Kieron Gillen wrote Noh Varr in Young Avengers with the same in mind and I'm pretty sure he was in Frank Miller's mind when he wrote and drew his version of the Joker in The Dark Knight.
Odd, then that no-one ever thought to make a comic starring your actual David Bowie. He'd have made a great superhero. Or space adventurer. Or stranded alien trying to help people while being hunted. Or something.
Sure, there's the odd biographical comic.
(Top tip: always avoid these)
And there is this horrorshow. And the adaptation of Labyrinth from Marvel.
If I had more skill (and more time) I'd like to create a bunch of "What If" strips putting different Bowie personae in different comics styles.

Inevitably, many artists have come forth to show their appreciation with some cartoon tributes. Here are some of my favourites:
Don't know who was responsible for this one but I love it.
A similarly-themed cartoon from the New Yorker's Ben Schwartz.
Berke Breathed's Bloom County characters (a particular favourite round these parts) pay homage.
The great Roger Langridge puts his lyrics to various comic strip icons.
The Beano's Nigel Parkinson sums up my feelings in one glorious understatement.
And finally the brilliant Jim'll Paint It gave us this amazing image, once again including Viz comic.

He loved Viz. 

I'll leave you now with this image of Bowie, once again reading Viz, in the company of (then) Radio One DJs Mark Radcliffe and Marc "Lard" Riley; himself one of the creators Oink!, one British comics' all-time greats.