Comics do a fantastic job of transporting readers like me to a place we may not have been before! This comic got me so interested in Charlie Parker that I had to play some of his music and find out more about his life as soon as I finished reading it! It’s that engrossing!

Dave Chisholm, Charlie Parker, Bird, Doors, Morrison Hotel, Canopus, Let’s Go to Utah, Dizzy Gillespie, jazz photographer, Claxton, California, Peter Markowski, Z2 Comics, hardcover,Chasin’ the Bird: Charlie Parker in California OGN

Writer: Dave Chisholm
Artist: Dave Chisholm
Colorists: Dave Chisholm, Peter Markowski
Letterer: Dave Chisholm
Editors: Joseph Frankel and Sridhar Reddy
Publisher: Z2 Comics
Cover price: $29.99
Release date: September 16, 2020

SOLICITATION: Charlie “Bird” Parker and Dizzy Gillespie brought frenetic sounds of bebop from the East Coast jazz underground to the West Coast for a two-month residency at Billy Berg’s Hollywood jazz club in 1945. This marked the beginning of a tumultuous two year-stint for Bird bumming around L.A., showing up at jam sessions, crashing on people’s couches, causing havoc in public places, and recording some of his most groundbreaking tracks, “A Night in Tunisia” and “Ornithology.” Chasing the Bird explores Bird’s relationship with the people he met encountered during his L.A. sojourn and those found themselves in the orbit of the jazz genius.

SOME PEOPLE ARE LARGER THAN LIFE

The first thing I need to mention is that this book has a tremendous foreword titled “I hear…” that was written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who is quite the writer now that his basketball days seem to be behind him.

Next, it’s important to know that this book takes place in different segments, each conveying a different feel to both art and writing, but all created by Chisholm (with coloring on some chapters by Peter Markowski). Dave uses his powerful skills at displaying moods that work so well I swear I was hearing what I considered jazz music in my head as I read them. The art style is appropriate to the perspective of each section. I agree with those who have said that each portion is like a cut from an album, with both differences and similarities that shine through, making the experience like listening to a Parker concert. Powerful stuff!

One of the most gripping parts of this book is the beginning that sets the stage for the rest of it. The story of the blind men exploring an elephant is a perfect metaphor for the various individuals who tell how they see Parker through their own points of view. Some saw him as a genius, others a force of nature while some were troubled that he apparently couldn’t meet his appointments without disappearing for days or weeks at a time. Hey, that’s creative people for you!

Like many artists, he struggled with issues like mental health concerns and addiction. He spent a lot of his time trying to experience life on as many levels as possible. The art and the storytelling in this book take us along on his journey through the eyes of several around him during these critical years. It’s interesting to me that we often learn more about significant people more through the perspective of observers than we might through the person’s own eyes.

What’s really sad is that Parker only lived among us until he was just 34 years old! As this book shows, his influence while alive and even today (years later) has been such that his audience was often as transfixed when he performed just as much as listeners are now when they hear him play via recordings.

‘MUSICAL’ ART

Just like great writers, great artists can use a variety of styles to tell a story. Chisholm does that masterfully in this book, effectively moving from a more artistic perspective to a more “realistic” appearing segment. These various pieces visually reflect the person telling their experiences, such as the more freeflowing and musical first chapter from Dizzy Gillespie to the more down-to-earth look of “jazz photographer” Claxton’s “still-life” panels, each resembling a photo. Every segment, though, perfectly displays that person’s part of the story.

I always look at facial expressions and action/movement-oriented sequences to judge art. I knew what was going on behind every face in this book, and when things happened both on- and off-screen, it was dynamic and gripping stuff. Nicely done!

BOTTOM LINE: TWO YEARS FULL OF LIVING

You can tell from this book that those two years were full to the max with Parker living, and that was shown in his music. This book does a fantastic job of making our imaginations come alive to match what we see on the printed page. We HEAR what’s happening just as well as we SEE it. This book has opened up a whole new world to me, and that’s something I’m grateful for!

The graphic novel is being released in a standard hardcover format and a limited-edition hardcover with slipcover, a vinyl 45 of two new Parker tracks, and a set of prints. It’s the latest music-themed graphic novel from the publisher, which has another based on The Doors album Morrison Hotel, due out in October.

Chisholm also is the creator of Canopus, an amazing science-fiction tale published by Scout Comics, and Let’s Go to Utah. To hear my recent interview with Dave during my podcast, you can go to this link!


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Chasin' the Bird OGN Advance Review

97%
97%
Musical!

You can tell from this book that those two years were full to the max with Parker living, and that was shown in his music. This book does a fantastic job of making our imaginations come alive to match what we see on the printed page. We HEAR what’s happening just as well as we SEE it. This book has opened up a whole new world to me, and that’s something I’m grateful for!

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About Author

Wayne Hall creates the Wayne's Comics Podcast. He’s interviewed Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, John Layman, Kyle Higgins, Phil Hester, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, David Petersen, Christos Gage, Mike Grell, and Matt Kindt. On this site each week, he writes his "Comics Portal" column (general comics comments and previews) and reviews comics.

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