It’s the colour palette I keep coming back to with this. It’s muted and sombre throughout, all stripped back blues through to cold and vaguely warmer greys – even when representing the pop-flash high points of success in this story the colours are kept in check, confirmation the scenario unfolding is somehow unable to escape the shadows, or too far gone to seek out the light. It fits perfectly for this beautifully illustrated and scripted story of the life of Who drummer Keith Moon based on Tony Fletchers biography ‘Dear Boy – The Life of Keith Moon’.
I’ve never read Fletchers book (but on the back of this, I’m on it), but I am familiar with a the ‘tabloid’ rock history version of his life. Moon the Loon – a ‘character’ who embodied and contributed, not insignificantly, to a previous eras invention of the idea of rock n roll excess. A ferocious party animal who drove cars in to swimming pools, slung TVs over hotel balconies, set off fireworks in tiny spaces for the simple, inane, cheap thrill of it all. Because he felt like it. Beacause he could. For a chunk of Moons life such antics were somehow de rigeur, accepted and expected rock star shenanigans fuelled by a colossal appetite and frenzied determination for obliteration via drug and alcohol excess that ultimately rendered an exceptional musician unable to actually perform as an artist and, in turn as a person outside of that world unable to deal coherently and confidently with the realities of everyday interactions and relationships.
In this respect Moons life is littered with fantastic events and incredible, ludicrous stories. From a distance they’re hilarious, tales that had they not been so frequently confirmed through the years as actually happening they could easily qualify as Chinese whispered, handed down and increasingly embellished fiction – rock n roll myth.
Through Jim McCarthy and Marc Olivents graphic novel (and no doubt Tony Fletchers original biog) a wider, fuller tale is told. The story of a teenager filled with an eagerness for excitement, charm and charisma, wired for mischief with unrivalled, natural talents whose calling thrived on and allowed those character traits to blossom and reign completely. An air of inevitability and its accompanying sadness are caught perfectly with the colour and tone of both the writing and illustrations spread across these pages.