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Review - Tribute: Amy Winehouse

Tuesday, 29 July 2014 09:35

Amy Winehouse lived a life that burned hot and bright, chaotic and tragic, perfect material for a graphic novel. Perhaps that’s why Tribute: Amy Winehouse falls as flat as a beehive without bobby pins.

The singer who died of alcohol poisoning at the age of 27 in 2011, was one of the greatest female vocalists to come out of the UK. She was an authentic soul singer raised on a steady diet of Etta and Sinatra. In this graphic novel penned by Michael L. Frizell and illustrated by Jayfri Hashim, Amy’s life is laid out chronologically with snippets of her song lyrics interspersed with dialogue. The dialogue takes place between Amy and her tattoo artist. I’ve worked in a tattoo shop and nothing is as mundane and creepy as watching someone else get a tattoo, somehow the creators of this novel nailed that dull, icky, voyeuristic feeling.

As far as biographical content, we learn little of Amy’s life that hasn’t already been revealed; her mom was a pharmacist, her grandmother a singer, she struggled in school, music was an escape, drugs, love etc. etc.

The strength of a graphic novel is being able to take a simply told story and elevate it through creative illustration and/or interesting prose. This graphic novel does neither. Check out Coltrane illustrated by Paolo Parisi or Cash by Reinhard Kleist to see how a music biography can work as a graphic novel. Both are full of illustrations that you want to rip out frame and hang on your wall.  For now, if you want to delve into the life of Amy Winehouse, dig deep into her discography and just listen.

If you'd like to join in on the conversation, follow Garvia on Twitter @garveyschild

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