Graphic Novel Review: Neil Young’s Greendale

(Titan �14.99)

COMICS have a long history of drawing from a variety of source material, whether that be video games, toy ranges, films, TV shows, classic novels or even role-playing games, but this could well be the only book released thus far which is based on a concept album.

Music legend Neil Young’s highly celebrated Greendale album is the inspiration and guiding force behind writer Joshua Dysart and artist Cliff Chiang’s politically and environmentally aware coming-of-age story, almost as a comic book counterpart to the musical version.

Drawing on the rich background established in Young’s 2003 work, it centres around the small southern California town of Greendale, almost a Twin Peaks of the West Coast, and the life and family history of teenage girl Sun Green.

With her female kinfolk claiming a mysterious communion with nature, Sun has always been somewhat different, spending hours sleeping in the branches of the giant Redwood trees outside the town, and experiencing a weird link with various facets of nature and supernature.

But the arrival of a mysterious Stranger to the town brings a dangerous force of darkness and disruption, tearing the idyllic community apart and forcing Sun to choose a new direction in her life – one where she will no longer sit back in acceptance of the world’s injustices, but will actively strive to obstruct them…

A truly remarkable work of graphic literature, and one which definitely does not require any knowledge or interest in the Neil Young album which inspired it beforehand, although after reading Greendale the book you may find yourself drawn to its musical sibling for further information about this unusual town.

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This self-contained novel is further proof of the strength of the comics format beyond the superhero genre, and offers a rich, multi-faceted tale which will appeal to all lovers of great America fiction.