Chasin’ The Bird
Writer/Artist/Letters- Dave Chisholm
Colors- Peter Markowski
Available: September 16th, 2020
As a reviewer– more importantly, as a fan, it’s my duty to let other fans know when there is a great work to be discovered and shared in the comic book reading world. It’s almost like a call to arms. This is not a sales pitch. This is not a cheap ad for a graphic novel. This is a plea to the rest of the comic reading world to stop what you are doing and to take notice of a modern masterpiece. This is not another graphic novel. This is art.
As a culture, society has become numb to the adjectives used to describe greatness. Words like awesome, genius, amazing are used to sell cereal and cars; they no longer hold the value that they once did. When everything is great, nothing can truly stand out. So allow me to cut through the background noise and the bullshit and give you the bare-bones honest review of this graphic novel.
This is the great American graphic novel. You will not find another like it. You will not be able to replicate it. You will not be able to reproduce the honesty and truth that drips from every page. This is a look at not only a popular American figure, this is the dissection of a man, an addict, an artist, a human being.
This is not another title that should languish on store shelves. No! This is a masterwork that should be handed out in every Art college and Music Academy in the country. This is a depiction of the human condition and it is the most insightful look inside the mind and soul of an artist that we have seen in a generation.
Chasin’ The Bird is more than a biography of Jazz virtuoso Charlie Parker. This is a time capsule that walks through the age of Jazz, takes us back to the early roots of popular music and to the foundations of Rock N Roll, Bebop, Pop, Disco, Funk– Chasin’ The Bird makes it clear that Parker was more than a talented Sax player… but the Godfather of modern music.
Chisholm has done in this graphic novel what so many creators have failed to do in recent years when trying to depict an influential historical figure. Chisholm found a way to walk the high wire between man and legend. While biopics like “Walk The Line” and “Ray” have found critical and commercial success in their take of the struggles of an artist and an addict, Chisholm has taken that message and makes readers recognize that Parker belongs in the pantheon of musical legends.
Chisholm takes Parker’s impact on the musical word and takes a hard look at the man behind the myth. This isn’t a tome that paints Parker in the best of light… but it doesn’t slander the name of Charlie Parker either. It is a humble and bracing take on the man who struggled with so many facets of life. Who was weak when it came to drugs, women, and his biggest love; music. He was a servant to his whims and those appetites lead this visionary down some very dark and lonely roads. Parker was the embodiment of a tormented artist.
But this isn’t a work that focuses solely on the struggles of addiction. This book also takes on the issue of race, sexuality, where art comes from, the meaning of art, the meaning of music, mental health, relationships, and celebrity. There are few facets of Parker’s life that Chisholm doesn’t explore. By the end of the book, readers are left with a tale that is not only a biography but a story that is as strong as a Sunday sermon about the value of art and creativity. This book will inspire.
The subject matter that Chasin’ The Bird tackles is as timeless as the music that Parker played. Each separate chapter is broken down into various art styles… but all from the hands of Chisholm. With each new chapter comes a new narrator and each new narrator comes with a new artistic style. Chisholm changes his visuals flawlessly. Paying homage to greats of the past as the influences of R. Crumb, Richard Corben, Darwyn Cooke, and leaves the reader reeling that the same artist could be responsible for such a variety of artistic expression.
What is clear from page one is that this is a passion project. It’s a creator demanding that the rest of the world recognize the greatness and the contributions of another talented soul and that demand is made in the form of a novel that you can’t turn away from. You can’t ignore the brilliance of. Rarely, have I ever walked away from a comic/graphic novel feeling that what I have read will withstand the test of time and outlive me as a work of art. This graphic novel is just that. Timeless. What Chisholm has created is the modern-day masterpiece and it is our duty as an industry to stand in awe of it. The Bird would be proud.
It seems ridiculous to even try to place a score on this. The work and the talent speaks for itself. To give this anything less than a perfect score would be appalling. Instant classic. 10/10.