1995: Voodoo Child

Voodoo Child (1995) by Martin I. Green and Bill Sienkiewicz

I’m not a Hendrix fan. I mean, I like some of his songs, but I have none of his albums and I don’t really know much about him, so this isn’t really a book aimed at people like me. But I am a Sienkiewicz fan, so let’s get readin’.

We get a very high falutin’ introduction, which was the tradition for comics like this back in the 90s. But I wonder whether this book was commercially successful or not? I don’t recall ever seeing somebody mention this book, and I’ve certainly not seen it around in the stores. But this was published in 1995, and Kitchen Sink was undergoing one of their meltdowns… On the other hand, perhaps my general disinterest in the subject just made me ignore the book? But here’s a data point:

You can pick up a copy now from ebay for $13.

Anyway, this starts off with Hendrix’ death in London in 1970…

… before warping back to his birth, and then telling Hendrix’ story (almost) completely chronologically.

The first half of the book is the most successful, in my opinion. It’s the part where the creators took the most liberties with (scant) information and did more comics-like storytelling. (Above we see Jimi meeting his father after some years in the military.)

Sienkiewicz does his thing, but the storytelling is more straightforward than some of his stuff was at the time. Perhaps he’d been told to keep things simple for a more mainstream audience, and this is what we ended up with?

I mean, it looks great, but this isn’t his most imaginative work.

He relies a lot on close-ups, and many smaller panels than you’d expect — I mean, it’s Jimi Hendrix, so you’d expect one explosive double page spread after another. It’s subdued.

The last half of the book is a lot more muddled — once he has his breakthrough, the book becomes more wikipedia-like, recapping everything that happened over those years… but leaving out most of the unpleasant stuff. There’s virtually no drug use here, and nothing about Hendrix being an abusive asshole whenever he was drunk (which was a lot) (except for one instance of Hotel Room Abuse).

Ooo, nice.

Oh yeah, this book includes a CD of unreleased demos. There’s been thousands of more or less official Hendrix CDs, right?

Sienkiewicz put a lot of work into this book, but… it’s not that good, really. I was bored out of my skull for the last 40 or so pages. But perhaps that’s just me.

Sienkiewicz was nominated for Best Artist for the 1996 Harvey Awards.

I couldn’t find any contemporary reviews, but here’s a later one:

It makes for an interesting, but flawed project. However, as noted, there’s page after page of stunning art.

There’s very few mentions of this book on the interwebs altogether. But here’s one:

Given his legacy of musical innovation, Hendrix seems a particularly fitting subject for this kind of experimental biographical format, and the numerous contributors who put this together realize their dream-like vision of Hendrix masterfully. 100,000 first printing.

Wow, that’s a lot of copies.

This is the two hundred and thirty-fourth post in the Entire Kitchen Sink blog series.

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