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Neil Young's GREENDALE comes to print

Iconic rocker Neil Young wasted no time in crafting a response to the launch of the war in Iraq, and the larger political and cultural forces he saw motivating it: the concept album Greendale came out in August, 2003, a mere six months after the first attacks were launched. Since then, Young has recrafted the story of Sun Green and her family into a live rock opera,  a film (which he directed under the pseudonym Bernard Shakey), and, of course, a website (though, as you might expect, not the usual promotional site).

On Wednesday, June 9th, Greendale will see yet another incarnation: the graphic novel Neil Young’s Greendale will hit comic book stores (with a broader book store release on the 15th). Created by writer Joshua Dysart and artist Cliff Chiang, the book combines a faithful rendering of Young’s story with the conventions of the graphic novel to create a vivid, moving, and even disturbing work.

The graphic novel medium provides an apt canvas to highlight the “hero’s journey” motif present in the story. Sun Green isn’t just a young woman who comes into her own as an environmental and political activist: she’s the offspring of a line of women who’ve chosen unconventional life paths in response to economic and political developments founded on exploitation of people and natural resources. She’s haunted by dreams of her ancestors, both living and dead, and also stalked by a shadowy, unnamed character who’s represents “business as usual” (and who, ironically, bears a striking resemblance to Young in the novel). She must choose whether to accept her heritage, or to slowly break down while attempting to pursue a “normal” life in Greendale.

The allegorical elements are a bit heavy-handed at times, and, although Sun’s internal conflicts make up a large part of the work, it’s pretty clear that she’ll make the right choice in the end. Neither of these elements are particularly unusual for the medium, though, and Dysart and Chiang (both well-versed in the graphic novel) make adroit use of the film-like combination of text and graphics to create a gripping, and even haunting work.

If you’re a Young fan, or a graphic novel reader, Neil Young’s Greendale is definitely worth a look. In line with the environmental overtones of the book, publisher Vertigo Comics also took efforts to make the product itself “green”: it’s printed on 100% recycled paper (40% post consumer waste).

Once you get a chance to check it out, let us know what you think…

Please note: Vertigo Comics provided SUNfiltered with a free review copy of the graphic novel.

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Image credit: Vertigo Comics