Monday, 19 December 2011

Graphic Novel Review - Gonzo: A Graphic Biography of Hunter S. Thompson

I chose this graphic novel because of my love for Hunter S. Thompson's work. By no means am I his biggest fan, but I love his writing style and his way with words enough to read (and re-read) as many books as I can get my hands on. So to me, this book was a must immediately.

The book's cover design jumped out at me as being very reminiscent of the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas book cover, with a bright orange background and a sketchy illustration below. This doesn't really surprise me, as Fear and Loathing is easily Thompson's most famous book, and this is a very easy way of sucking readers of that book into reading this one - one which will definitely inform them of what a fantastic writer they have stumbled upon.

As I read the book, I couldn't help thinking that it was very well put together. The book is written as if Thompson had written it himself, and includes quotes and snippets from his various books. The writing and the snippets fit together perfectly to make a very seamless portrayal of Thompson's life, that genuinely feels true to his style. Thompson's style of writing (in my opinion) is very recognisable - he had a way to describe even the grittiest elements of society in an obscure way that seemed to make caricatures of them, which is a style I admire greatly.

In terms of illustration, I think the book's visuals complement the story well. A combination of realism and sketchiness, it relates back to the nature of Thompson's journalism - rapidly flashing from place to place, sketchy and unfinished in places.
However, I do think the monochromatic images were a bad choice. They give the book an 'old timey' feel which doesn't really suit Thompson's style as a person. The bizarre nature of Thompson's descriptions paves the way for bizarre renditions of people in bright colours and strange shapes, but this book has not played into that.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel, as it was a really captivating insight into the life of a writer I admire. The illustrations and words have come together well to portray an immersive journey through Hunter S. Thompson's life. I can't help but appreciate this novel for what it is, as it was a joy to read, so much so I read it twice. I could definitely see this graphic novel paving the way for new Thompson fans to discover more of his great work.