cover image Grace: Based on the Jeff Buckley Story

Grace: Based on the Jeff Buckley Story

Tiffanie DeBartolo, Pascal Dizin, and Lisa Reist. First Second, $26.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-59643-287-1

This effervescent graphic biography of singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley (1966–1997) brims over with creative intensity, avoiding the typical excavation of morbid details. Self-proclaimed “white trash from Anaheim,” with a sweet, rich voice and soul-searching lyrics to match, Buckley struggled in the shadow of his father, Tim Buckley, a singer-songwriter with a cult following, whom he barely knew. An earnest guy with a guitar on the New York club circuit, Buckley attracted record label attention in 1992, and while his first album notched up strong sales and positive reviews, Buckley bristled at the industry’s attempt to turn him into just a “pretty-boy darling of the adult contemporary charts.” Unsure of his direction and increasingly anxious, Buckley moved to Memphis, where he tried to clear a serious bout of writer’s block. The buildup to the fateful nighttime swim that ended Buckley’s life is handled delicately and without speculative psychological profiling. The narrative by DeBartolo (How to Kill a Rock Star) only fitfully tracks Buckley’s flashpan moods, leaving it mostly to the grin-heavy and high-energy Archie-inflected illustrations by Dizin and Reist to tell the story of the soaring highs that powered Buckley’s music and the dark lows that may have silenced it. This alternately tragic and manic story argues strongly for the emotive singer-songwriter to be remembered as more than another casualty of the 1990s.[em](Apr.) [/em]

Correction: An earlier version of this review incorrectly identified Jeff Buckley's father as an avant-garde composer.