Joshua Dysart & Cliff Chiang - Neil Young’s Greendale
Originally a concept album in 2003, then a film, a live DVD and an off-Broadway musical, this anti-war, pro-ecology tale by Neil Young & Crazy Horse continues its march across media formats with an attractive hard-bound graphic novel version from DC’s Vertigo imprint. Writer Joshua Dysart (The Unknown Soldier) and artist Cliff Chiang (Human Target) have created a book which is expansive, detailed, uncluttered and naturalistic, in the same manner that Young or Springsteen found epic musical stories in the relative minutiae of small-town Americana.
The story of Sun Green, a girl from the fictional Southern Californian town of Greendale whose female relatives all seem to possess strange powers and an uncanny ability to disappear into the woods and never be seen again, is a confidently-told tale. References to Sun’s powers are a little too on-the-nose, perhaps played up in the hope of enticing Vertigo’s core audience (Dysart also wrote Swamp Thing for a couple of years), but attempts are made to defuse the usual clichés. Perhaps the most compelling subplot is the duality between Sun’s father Earl, a struggling artist, and the brazen, materialistic, supernatural Stranger. Both look like Young at various stages of his career, and the former’s denunciation of the latter as ‘a man who knows how to take pure bullshit and turn it into gold’ feels like the singer’s own commentary on the conflicting nature of fame.