Kurt Cobain: When I Was an Alien
I was looking forward to sampling this graphic novel, translated from the Italian, on the life of Kurt Cobain, since I didn’t know much about him beyond his hit songs and his marriage to Courtney Love (who doesn’t appear here). Unfortunately, that lack of knowledge was a detriment, since I suspect the book reads much better if you already know most of the facts about Cobain. If you don’t, as I didn’t, writer Danilo Deninotti doesn’t give you all the information you need.
The most obvious omission in Kurt Cobain: When I Was an Alien is the name of one of the band members in Nirvana. I knew Cobain, and I knew Dave Grohl, but the third guy, Krist Novoselic, is never named anywhere in full in the book. That’s a pretty big omission.
Toni Bruno’s art, however, is lovely and evocative, and the coloring, a blue-grey wash, suits the material well. The scenes with Cobain as a child and teen, discovering pop music and dealing with his parents’ breakup and trying to start a band, are universal enough that many will be able to relate. The book concludes on the eve of Nirvana’s breakthrough, so future events, including stardom and his suicide, aren’t tackled at all.
There are two pages at the back that identify some of the key music industry cameos in the story. For those of us not already familiar with all of the band’s discography, more annotations would have been appreciated. I get the impression that some of the dialogue and/or scenes might have been selected because they later figured in song names or lyrics, but that’s just a guess, based on the titles in the music credit list at the back.
If you’re a huge fan and you want to see Kurt Cobain in comic form, this isn’t a bad choice. For the rest of us, the read is frustrating more than anything else. (The publisher provided a review copy.)