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Review: Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams

Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, Moonage Daydreams

Michael Allred, Steve Horton, and Laura Allred’s graphic biography Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams is a love letter to musical legend and bisexual chameleon, David Bowie. The book mainly focuses on his Ziggy Stardust period with the Allreds beautifully illustrating a montage of live shows as Bowie’s creation and the Spiders from Mars come to vivid life in Europe, North America, and Asia. Horton and Allred use the Spiders’ final gig at London’s Hammersmith Odeon as a framing narrative. Because Bowie had a six-decade recording career, this narrative strategy is effective and also turns the comic into a history of a certain period of pop music when peace beads and flower headdresses were replaced with elaborate makeup, big guitars, and all things glam.

Although the ever-shifting image of David Bowie himself is always at the center of Bowie, Horton and Allred tell their story in what is basically a series of montages. There will be a beautiful dream sequence with a trippy color palette from Laura Allred that visually shows the inspiration of hit songs like “Space Oddity”, “Life on Mars”, or “Rock n Roll Suicide” to name a few, and then we’ll get a list of various celebrities at a Ziggy Stardust show or a check-in on what’s happening with his contemporaries like T. Rex’s Marc Bolan or Lou Reed.

Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams

For the most part, Horton uses minimal captions and lets Mike Allred’s art and Laura Allred’s tell the story. But when the comic calls for it, he can inject moments of humor like Bowie’s reaction to his son Zowie (Now director Duncan Jones) destroying his record collection or poignancy when Bowie reflects on his family’s history of mental illness or begins to articulate the idea of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars to his band. Horton and Allred draw parallels between both Ziggy and Bowie’s hubris as he turns a blind eye when his corrupt lawyer is paying long term band members three times less than relatively new keyboard player, Mike Garson. Although they’re iconic images, there is an air of ego to Bowie’s famous Aladdin Sane photo shoot with Allred’s use of negative space crowding the Spiders from Mars out of the frame even though guitarist Mick Ronson was a vital part of his music and helped keep him focus when he was too busy flirting with his lover-turned-wife, Angie.

However, what will stay with me most from Bowie are the Allreds’ ability to capture the energy of live music while still doing spot-on likenesses of historical figures performing. When Mick Ronson and Bowie harmonize on “Starman” or (controversially) embrace on a Top of the Pops performance, there is a camaraderie and almost sexual chemistry between the two men that makes the later “breakup” scene emotionally resonant. Although Allred mainly puts Bowie at the center of the frame, he makes sure to cut to the audience and their hands as they are inspired and reaffirmed that it’s okay to be a little strange or non-heterosexual by this benevolent, iconic alien before them. The Allreds add some flourishes like Kirby Krackle every time Bowie does something that is especially extraterrestrial like floating in space in an early film that was a companion to “Space Oddity”.

Underneath the heavily researched and striking fashions and celebrity cameos, Bowie is about creating an identity out of the things one is passionate about. For example, Bowie and his band mates saw A Clockwork Orange when it was first release, and it immediately impacted the costuming, visual design, and even the intro of the Ziggy Stardust live show. Basically, he was a huge nerd for pop and folk music, high fashion, literature, and film, and it shown out in both his art and the way he approached the world. Bowie is filled with moments where Horton and Allred (And by extension, David Bowie) respects their fellow artists like a full page splash homage to Bob Dylan and Elvis, bringing up Lou Reed on stage, running around Detroit with Iggy Pop, and inspiring the young Morrissey and Bruce Springsteen during his concerts. It shows that art can lead to friendship, lifelong influences, and sometimes tragedy like the aforementioned tension between Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, and Moonage Daydreams is a highly stylized, yet infinitely human look at an important period in David Bowie’s career from Mike Allred, Steve Horton, and Laura Allred. The graphic biography captures the feeling of the music of Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane through dreamlike visuals as well as adding historical context to these songs and albums and personal anecdotes that add both vulnerable and mystique to Bowie’s story. Its epilogue also kind of made me want a sequel featuring the Thin White Duke and some of Bowie’s later personas. This book truly feels like a passion project and transported me to a bittersweet day six years when a closeted, sad teenager listened to the CD of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stars and the Spiders from Mars and felt “not alone”. It’s a must read for any Bowie fan, especially those who love his early-1970s work the best.

Story: Steve Horton and Michael Allred
Art: Michael Allred Colors: Laura Allred
Story: 7.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Insight Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: Amazon (Regular Edition)Zeus Comics

Talking Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns & Moonage Daydreams Graphic Novel with Steve Horton

Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns & Moonage Daydreams is a graphic novel from legendary artist Mike Allred and writer Steve Horton. It chronicles the rise of David Bowie’s career from obscurity to fame; paralleled by the rise and fall of his alter ego Ziggy Stardust. As the Spiders from Mars slowly implode, Bowie wrestles with his Ziggy persona. The outcome of this internal conflict will change not only David Bowie, but also, the world.

I’m joined by the book’s writer Steve Horton to talk about the making of the graphic novel and our shared love of Bowie (and shared love of artist Mike Allred’s work). Whether you’re an “Absolute Beginer” on Bowie or already deeply “Loving the Alien” you will get something out of this tremendous book– and hopefully out of this episode too.

Share your thoughts with me and maybe I’ll show you my Bowie tattoo.

Review: Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams

Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, Moonage Daydreams

Michael Allred, Steve Horton, and Laura Allred’s graphic biography Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams is a love letter to musical legend and bisexual chameleon, David Bowie. The book mainly focuses on his Ziggy Stardust period with the Allreds beautifully illustrating a montage of live shows as Bowie’s creation and the Spiders from Mars come to vivid life in Europe, North America, and Asia. Horton and Allred use the Spiders’ final gig at London’s Hammersmith Odeon as a framing narrative. Because Bowie had a six-decade recording career, this narrative strategy is effective and also turns the comic into a history of a certain period of pop music when peace beads and flower headdresses were replaced with elaborate makeup, big guitars, and all things glam.

Although the ever-shifting image of David Bowie himself is always at the center of Bowie, Horton and Allred tell their story in what is basically a series of montages. There will be a beautiful dream sequence with a trippy color palette from Laura Allred that visually shows the inspiration of hit songs like “Space Oddity”, “Life on Mars”, or “Rock n Roll Suicide” to name a few, and then we’ll get a list of various celebrities at a Ziggy Stardust show or a check-in on what’s happening with his contemporaries like T. Rex’s Marc Bolan or Lou Reed.

Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams

For the most part, Horton uses minimal captions and lets Mike Allred’s art and Laura Allred’s tell the story. But when the comic calls for it, he can inject moments of humor like Bowie’s reaction to his son Zowie (Now director Duncan Jones) destroying his record collection or poignancy when Bowie reflects on his family’s history of mental illness or begins to articulate the idea of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars to his band. Horton and Allred draw parallels between both Ziggy and Bowie’s hubris as he turns a blind eye when his corrupt lawyer is paying long term band members three times less than relatively new keyboard player, Mike Garson. Although they’re iconic images, there is an air of ego to Bowie’s famous Aladdin Sane photo shoot with Allred’s use of negative space crowding the Spiders from Mars out of the frame even though guitarist Mick Ronson was a vital part of his music and helped keep him focus when he was too busy flirting with his lover-turned-wife, Angie.

However, what will stay with me most from Bowie are the Allreds’ ability to capture the energy of live music while still doing spot-on likenesses of historical figures performing. When Mick Ronson and Bowie harmonize on “Starman” or (controversially) embrace on a Top of the Pops performance, there is a camaraderie and almost sexual chemistry between the two men that makes the later “breakup” scene emotionally resonant. Although Allred mainly puts Bowie at the center of the frame, he makes sure to cut to the audience and their hands as they are inspired and reaffirmed that it’s okay to be a little strange or non-heterosexual by this benevolent, iconic alien before them. The Allreds add some flourishes like Kirby Krackle every time Bowie does something that is especially extraterrestrial like floating in space in an early film that was a companion to “Space Oddity”.

Underneath the heavily researched and striking fashions and celebrity cameos, Bowie is about creating an identity out of the things one is passionate about. For example, Bowie and his band mates saw A Clockwork Orange when it was first release, and it immediately impacted the costuming, visual design, and even the intro of the Ziggy Stardust live show. Basically, he was a huge nerd for pop and folk music, high fashion, literature, and film, and it shown out in both his art and the way he approached the world. Bowie is filled with moments where Horton and Allred (And by extension, David Bowie) respects their fellow artists like a full page splash homage to Bob Dylan and Elvis, bringing up Lou Reed on stage, running around Detroit with Iggy Pop, and inspiring the young Morrissey and Bruce Springsteen during his concerts. It shows that art can lead to friendship, lifelong influences, and sometimes tragedy like the aforementioned tension between Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, and Moonage Daydreams is a highly stylized, yet infinitely human look at an important period in David Bowie’s career from Mike Allred, Steve Horton, and Laura Allred. The graphic biography captures the feeling of the music of Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane through dreamlike visuals as well as adding historical context to these songs and albums and personal anecdotes that add both vulnerable and mystique to Bowie’s story. Its epilogue also kind of made me want a sequel featuring the Thin White Duke and some of Bowie’s later personas. This book truly feels like a passion project and transported me to a bittersweet day six years when a closeted, sad teenager listened to the CD of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stars and the Spiders from Mars and felt “not alone”. It’s a must read for any Bowie fan, especially those who love his early-1970s work the best.

Story: Steve Horton and Michael Allred
Art: Michael Allred Colors: Laura Allred
Story: 7.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Insight Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams

Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams

(W) Steve Horton (A) Michael Allred
In Shops: Jan 08, 2020
SRP: $39.99

Inspired by the one and only superhero, extraterrestrial, and rock and roll deity in history, BOWIE: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams is the original graphic memoir of the great Ziggy Stardust!

In life, David Bowie was one of the most magnetic icons of modern pop culture, seducing generations of fans with both his music and his counterculture persona. In death, the cult of Bowie has only intensified. As a musician alone, Bowie’s legacy is remarkable, but his place in the popular imagination is due to so much more than his music. As a visual performer, he defied classification with his psychedelic aesthetics, his larger-than-life image, and his way of hovering on the border of the surreal.

BOWIE: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams chronicles the rise of Bowie’s career from obscurity to fame; and paralleled by the rise and fall of his alter ego as well as the rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust. As the Spiders from Mars slowly implode, Bowie wrestles with his Ziggy persona. The outcome of this internal conflict will change not only David Bowie, but also, the world.

Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams

Early Preview: Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams

Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams

(W) Steve Horton (A) Michael Allred
In Shops: Jan 08, 2020
SRP: $39.99

Inspired by the one and only superhero, extraterrestrial, and rock and roll deity in history, BOWIE: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams is the original graphic memoir of the great Ziggy Stardust!

In life, David Bowie was one of the most magnetic icons of modern pop culture, seducing generations of fans with both his music and his counterculture persona. In death, the cult of Bowie has only intensified. As a musician alone, Bowie’s legacy is remarkable, but his place in the popular imagination is due to so much more than his music. As a visual performer, he defied classification with his psychedelic aesthetics, his larger-than-life image, and his way of hovering on the border of the surreal.

BOWIE: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams chronicles the rise of Bowie’s career from obscurity to fame; and paralleled by the rise and fall of his alter ego as well as the rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust. As the Spiders from Mars slowly implode, Bowie wrestles with his Ziggy persona. The outcome of this internal conflict will change not only David Bowie, but also, the world.

Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams

Preview: Satellite Falling #5

Satellite Falling #5

Steve Horton (w) • Stephen Thompson (a & c)

The master plan stands revealed, the cards are on the table and the race is on to stop a deadly plague before it wipes out every alien in known space!

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Preview: Satellite Falling #4

Satellite Falling #4

Steve Horton (w) • Stephen Thompson (a & c)

After recovering from the shock of the police cruiser with the chief exploding, Lilly and her crew infiltrate the ship, each with a specific task to perform to reach Eva and bring the ship down. Lilly makes it to the bridge and confronts Eva, and learns about Eva’s plan to infect everyone on Satellite to commit genocide on their home worlds. She tries to shoot Lilly, but Lilly’s a hologram! Lilly knows about the plan already and is already working to stop it.

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Preview: Satellite Falling #3

Satellite Falling #3

Steve Horton (w) • Stephen Thompson (a & c)

We look to the past, as Lilly and Eva deal with an ugly truth about a fallen Earth. In the present, Lilly recruits a team to spy on that huge ship on the far side of the gas giant…and find out just what they want!

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

SatelliteFalling_03-Cover

Preview: Satellite Falling #2

Satellite Falling #2

Steve Horton (w) • Stephen Thompson (a & c)

It’s life or death for Lilly as the sting operation she never wanted goes horribly wrong. What’s a taxi driver-slash-bounty hunter to do? Steal a car, of course!

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

SatteliteFalling_02-Cover

Preview: Satellite Falling #1

Satellite Falling #1

Steve Horton (w) • Stephen Thompson (a & c)

A lone human survived the death of the one she loved, and escaped a corrupt Earth. She now makes her way as a bounty hunter, on a satellite full of aliens. But someone’s about to turn her life upside down…

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

SatFall01-cover

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