For the more musically-inclined strange kids out there, today’s comic review covers a recently re-issued graphic novel by Courtney Taylor-Taylor (The Dandy Warhols) and illustration Jim Rugg, ONE MODEL NATION, complete with bonus commentary, alternative scenes and a pretty extensive art gallery.
I must admit that prior to picking this book up I had neither listened to The Dandy Warhols (*gasp*) or known much in terms of musical history (we’re talking woefully ignorant here). Afterwards, though, I can proudly say that at least one of those things have changed (hint: I’ve made an addition to my iTunes library.) So, while I’m not the perfect audience for this title, there’s something to be said for the tone of the story that it held my interest; told in equal amounts of character dialogue and quieter, emotionally charged panels.
The book begins and ends with reporter Tyler Blake, a relatively young man looking to make a documentary on the late 70s German art scene. Naturally, he’s most interested in on particular band whose past is a bit shady… One Model Nation. Thus, we’re taken back in time to learn the unknown history of the four-piece rock group and what ultimately led to their fall. There’s underground music (of course), terrorism, murder and more as the group slowly transitions from unassuming musicians to the forefront of an entirely volatile movement. It’s an interesting mix of historical fact, personal experiences (on Courtney’s part) and pure fiction; deftly blended together especially in scenes with musical icons like Klaus Nomi or David Bowie (whose sole appearance is illustrated by Mike Allred).
Unfortunately, Rugg’s artwork can be – at times – be too blended; causing confusion between characters in close-up panels especially. A slightly more varied color palette may have proven to clarify some of the panels in this respect, but otherwise the pulpy feel that Rugg brings is perfectly suited to to story. Rugg actually has several moments throughout the book where he’s able to bring life to the cast through their facial expressions, small nuances that convey a plethora of real emotion. It’s a much appreciated touch that goes a long way to define each character despite the more obscure panels.
Overall, One Model Nation doesn’t make my must-read list, but it is one of the better indie comics I’ve read so far this year. I can’t help but wonder what a film adaptation might have been like, as it was originally intended to be… perhaps SLC PUNK by way of Popol Vuh. Hey look at that, I did learn something about music history!