Canadian PressAug. 10, 2007
TORONTO -- Outspoken musician and political activist Neil Young is putting his anti-war and environmental convictions into a graphic novel.
The book will be an adaptation of Young's 2003 disc "Greendale," a 10-song concept album that was turned into a film of the same name in 2003 and also spawned an art book and multi-media tour.
The legendary artist, renowned for his strong anti-George W. Bush sentiments, has made it clear that the project will be just as biting politically as the rest of his artistic catalogue, said writer and collaborator Joshua Dysart.
Dysart, who describes his own political leanings as "left of Lenin," says the graphic novel's theme is decidedly anti-war and pro-planet. The story is set in the fictional town of Greendale on the eve of the Iraq invasion in 2003.
"It's just sort of a smorgasbord of the political reality of that moment of 2003 when we went into Iraq," Dysart said Thursday in a telephone interview from his home Los Angeles.
"Greendale is a fictional town but it's in northern California and the politics and concerns of northern California are going to be very prevalent and that's: anti-war, environmentalism and the raping of the California resources by major corporations in the pocket of the Bush administration."
The novel has been two years in the making and will be published by the DC Comics subsidiary Vertigo. Dysart said he's only completed a sketch of the storyline so far and hopes the book could be completed next year.
The idea for the novel came from Young himself, he adds, but so far the Canadian rocker has taken a largely arms-length approach to directing the narrative.
Major elements, however, are drawn directly from his disc "Greendale," said Dysart, also behind an Avril Lavigne graphic novel released earlier this year called "Make Five Wishes."
Young's album "Greendale" told the story of a tragic event and its effects on three generations of an American family.
The graphic novel focuses on the story of Sun Green, a teenager and burgeoning activist whose life is changed when a mysterious stranger pays a visit to her small town.
It also places great significance on her family's unique ability to connect with nature, an aspect referred to only casually in the art book, said Dysart.
"I just clued into that because it hadn't been explored in other mediums and the last thing I wanted to do was just kind of regurgitate the storyline," Dysart explained.
A big challenge for Dysart will be just how to capture Young's unconventional persona.
"There is this sort of low-fi, loose E-string humming Americana rock-n-roll about that album and about a lot of his work," he notes.
"I want to find that (feeling) inside of our medium. And part of that is going to be what (artist) Sean (Murphy) brings to it, obviously. I think, for instance, the way he uses ink is going to very much have that sort of a strong intensity. He can be a splatterer when encouraged with his ink and I think that will help a lot."
Those who know the album well will likely recognize a few song lyrics Dysart hopes to insert into the text.
"I'm sure there will be many because there are some great storylines in there," he said. "I will probably be altering them so they do not rhyme. That's not really the kind of piece we're going for. It's not a music video on paper."
As for Young himself, Dysart was coy about whether the music great would make a cameo.
"In the film, a sort of a supernatural entity arrives in town who is like a white blues man, basically all dressed in a red suit and a red fedora and patent leather shoes," he says. "Now, that character is going to be in the piece and if that character looks strikingly similar to Neil Young, then I don't know what to say."