Queen in Comics

NBM. May 2023. 176p. tr. from French by Christopher Pope. ISBN 9781681123110. $27.99. BIOG
This graphic bio of the British supergroup Queen is drawn by 17 artists. The variety of styles suits the chameleonlike nature of the band and its charismatic front man, Freddie Mercury. Born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar, Mercury is indeed the star of this book, but power guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor, and John Deacon (on bass) each get their time in the spotlight. Among its twenty chapters are a short intro, a comics section, and an illustrated article summarizing the comics. The articles (story by Marie, article text by Blitman) are occasionally awkwardly written and haphazardly punctuated, perhaps due to translation difficulties, but the comics sections shine. Riccardo Randazzo’s realistic rendering of Mercury as a young schoolboy in India is dynamic; Céline Olive’s panels in “Youth in London” convey the Swingin’ Sixties and the band’s beginnings; Arnaud Jouffroy draws the two (or more) sides of Mercury in “But Who Was Freddie Mercury Really?” Drug use and band squabbles and misbehavior are shown, but not excessively. Mercury’s reckoning with his homosexuality and the story about his death from AIDS in 1991 are handled movingly. Best of all is the genesis of the familiar drumbeat of “We Will Rock You” in Samuel Figuière’s “Legendary Hits.”
VERDICT Queen fans, megafans, and curious newbies will clap and sing along to this colorful, kaleidoscopic graphic novel.
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