Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Reader's Diary #2170- Mezzo and J.M. Dupont: Love in Vain

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll is often cited as an unholy trinity and the key here is the unholy part. Perhaps no one better personified this than Robert Johnson, even if his music is usually classified as blues (predating rock and roll by more than a decade). Legend has it, of course, Robert Johnson traded his soul at the "Cross Road" to the devil in exchange for his musical gifts.

Mezzo and J.M. Dupont's graphic novel, Love in Vain captures his wild and short life. Was it tragic? By most accounts yes, but rare were the times he was shown to submit to the pain and tragedy around him. Instead he threw himself into music and debauchery, appearing on the surface at least, to always land on his feet. Until of course, he couldn't.

The story is fast and short, entertaining and sometimes poignant. There's a bit of an unnecessary frame story involving a mysterious narrator whose identity is revealed (to not much surprise) at the end, but it's not distracting.

The art is absolutely gorgeous. Very heavy, black ink gives it a look of woodcuts (helping with the historic vibe) and caricatures have a Charles Burns/ Robert Crumb expressive and fluid feel in keeping with the music. I also appreciated the extra attention to detail in the party scenes.

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