I used to be a massive Kurt Cobain fan – you can probably tell by my name. But let’s not talk about that.
That’s why I was so excited when fellow Geeks Unleashed writer (and, coincidentally, my girlfriend) Laura McIntosh bought me a copy of ‘Godspeed’. Described by the illustrator as ‘[combining] dream imagery with objective reality’, Godspeed tells the story of Kurt’s life from his birth in 1967 to his suicide in 1994.
Now, for the non-initiated, I should probably explain who Kurt Cobain is. Kurt was the lead singer of Nirvana, the 1990s grunge band that featured a then-unknown Dave Grohl on the drums. Hailed as one of the flagship bands of the early nineties and pioneers of the ‘grunge’ scene, Nirvana have sold over 75 million records across the globe.
Godspeed isn’t just for hardcore fans, though – far from it. Authors Barnaby Legg and Jim McCarthy take the Kurt Cobain legend and amplify it, accentuating the facts and bending the truth. Grunge addicts will quickly spot the discrepancies, but if you take the novel as a work of semi-fiction then they quickly cease to matter.
Besides, the book is mostly true and is clearly well-researched, although there’s not much that you wouldn’t find on Wikipedia. The dialogue is gripping and believable, and it’s offset perfectly by Flameboy’s talented penmanship.
You’d better hope you like reading about junkies, though – the scenes of heroin highs and withdrawal are brutally graphic and extremely realistic, so bear that in mind if you buy a copy. On the other hand, life’s beautiful moments like the birth of baby Frances Bean Cobain are also granted the same attention to detail.
Flameboy’s illustrations could easily hog the limelight, and you’d be forgiven for forgetting the stellar effort shown by co-writers Barnaby Legg and Jim McCarthy. Despite the occasional typo, it’s a strong script that shows the human side of the suicidal grunge star.
At this point, I could quickly get distracted by the conspiracy theorists who claim that Kurt was murdered by his wife and fellow junkie – Courtney Love of the rock band ‘Hole’. The authors chose not to go down that route and so neither will I – that’s not what this story’s about.
And if Kurt Cobain and Nirvana aren’t your thing, don’t worry – Flameboy has worked on a bunch of other books too. Hip-Hop fans should check out Death Rap about Tupac Shakur and In My Skin about Eminem.
There’s plenty for the geeks among us, too – Toxic City and the Fruit Machine are online comics that you can check out on his website. Oh, and for £7.65, he’ll teach you how to draw wizards, warriors, orcs and elves.
Is that geeky enough?
Godspeed: The Kurt Cobain Graphic by Barnaby Legg, Jim McCarthy and Flameboy was first published in 2003.
At the time of writing, it was rated 5/5 on Amazon and was available for £6.96.