From the Editor's Desk: Karen Berger talks NEIL YOUNG'S GREENDALE
If someone told me when I first started working here, that I'd someday be working with Neil Young, I would have flipped out! Well, I haven't lost my mind yet :) but I AM over the moon to be publishing our adaptation of NEIL YOUNG'S acclaimed GREENDALE album.
Neil approached us over four years ago with the idea of taking his acclaimed concept album and realizing it as a graphic novel. The original album was conceived as a musical novel of sorts, a 10-song rock opera that tells the story of the restless characters in the sleepy, seaside California town of Greendale, with a teenage girl, Sun Green, at its center. It has also been a live rock opera, a film that Neil directed as ‘Bernard Shakey’, which would lead to a companion book, plus an off-Broadway musical.
Joshua Dysart was the first writer who leapt to mind to handle the writing. Josh's sheer talent and sensibility as a writer and his longtime political activism made him perfect for this book, and growing up on Neil Young's music certainly made him a slam dunk. Neil immediately responded to Josh's first thoughts on the adaptation and a great collaborative process between the two of them followed. And, while I always knew that Josh would do a great job, I was wowed by his ability to convey this rambling rock and roll feeling to the graphic novel form and to create an atmosphere that felt very much like Neil's music. With his stellar work on UNKNOWN SOLDIER, Josh has jumped into that special class of a true craftsman who can move you with his words while conveying a passionate message.
Trying to find the right artist wasn't anywhere as easy. I had sent Neil samples of many different artists but he had a particular look in mind and wasn’t satisfied. But then he saw Cliff Chiang's art and immediately fell in love with it. Not surprising, as Cliff's clean, modern style has an organic, natural feel to it. He is a fluid and accessible storyteller, which worked perfectly to transform this rich family saga into a graphic novel. There is something about his work on GREENDALE that takes his art to another level. His wonderful ability to capture the details and nuances of a very large cast of characters, while impressing us with the towering and majestic landscapes, made him the perfect choice (You were right to wait, Neil!).
And I can't say enough about the incomparable colorist Dave Stewart. His glorious sun-washed palette was key in making this story complete, always in concert with Cliff’s art, never competing with it. His artistry is an integral part of this book. As always, the one and only Todd Klein provided the impeccable lettering. And Neil himself offers a special intro to this amazing graphic novel.
Josh and Cliff have done some terrific interviews so please make sure to check them out, so you can read in their own words so much cool behind the scenes info that went into the creation of this book. (NEWSARAMA feature with Josh, NEWSARAMA feature with Cliff, CBR feature with Josh.)
And, as a special treat, here are Cliff's sample pages that got him the job!
NEIL YOUNG'S GREENDALE, in all its incarnations, speaks to the power of environmental, social and personal responsibility that each and every one of us living on this planet shares. With what's going on in the world today, especially with the horrendous Gulf oil spill, this book couldn't be timelier. But ultimately, this is a great story with incredible art, so whether you're a fan of Neil Young or you just want to lose yourself in a mysterious, haunting and hopeful tale, GREENDALE will definitely take you there. (And have I told you? I love this book!!)