- Posted by Johanna on January 4, 2009 at 8:15 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: by Mike Dawson
- PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury; $19.99 US
A Coming-of-Age (Bohemian) Rhapsody
This autobiography is about how Mike Dawson loved the music of Freddie Mercury and moved from the United Kingdom to the United States as a child. As such, I expected it to address in some fashion these topics:
- Why Queen’s music was so appealing to him
- How the near-death revelation of Mercury’s homosexuality and his having AIDS affected him
- The culture clash between England and the U.S.
I think those are basic questions most people would have when told a book was about those subjects. Unfortunately, none of them are addressed in any significant fashion. I wanted to known why Queen mattered so much to Dawson, so much so that he tracks what happens in his life by what he was listening to, but instead of insight, I got anecdotes. Some are funny — Dawson tries to sing Bohemian Rhapsody at a talent contest when he’s 10, only to be ushered off the stage early — but many are overly familiar, especially to anyone who’s read any other comic autobiographies about male geek artists. I feel like one of the people he writes about, who don’t understand his love for the music, because he never explains it to me.
I was left with the questions no autobiographical cartoonist wants to hear: what’s so special about your life? why should I bother reading about it? The most significant section of the book, in my opinion, is a between-chapters reflection on what memory is, what determines how we remember things, and how we change memories into stories. That was new and unusual. The rest, not so much.
The artwork is well-done and easy-to-read, populated with appealing blobby caricatures. The book is a rambling wander, although an impressive achievement at over 300 pages.
A preview chapter and podcast interview was posted at USA Today. This interview at the Comics Reporter reveals more about the author’s goals. Mike Dawson has posted background material at his blog, including deleted pages. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)