Bob Dylan Revisited
Bob Dylan, and various. . Norton, $24.95 (104pp) ISBN 978-0-393-07617-2
Sixteen cartoonists, mostly European, interpret 13 of Bob Dylan's most familiar lyrics in this lavishly illustrated oversized book. Dylan's songs don't generally call out for visual accompaniment—they map out emotional states or tell stories, but provide all the images they require. There's plenty of stylishness and a wide range of illustrative technique; unfortunately, few of the contributors have anything in particular to say about or add to Dylan's words. Some artists settle for redundant representations of the lyrics, including Bramanti's western death scene for “Knockin' on Heaven's Door” and Gradimir Smudja's semiphotorealist “Hurricane.” Even Dave McKean, rendering “Desolation Row” with his usual multimedia technique and surreal distortion of space, can't help packing his story with literal renderings of individual lines. Other artists simply throw their hands up: Bézian accompanies “Tombstone Blues” ' hilarious torrent of language with apropos-of-nothing drawings of girders, railroad tracks and a crowd of people, and Jean-Claude Götting's “Lay, Lady, Lay” is a brief erotic scenario that just happens to involve a big brass bed. The most rewarding piece is actually a commentary on Dylan himself: Zep's interpretation of “Not Dark Yet” shows four sly caricatures of the songwriter in the various phases of his career.
Reviewed on: 09/14/2009