Comics: Graphic novel "Neil Young's Greendale" is satisfying
A tale of environmentalism
Scripps Howard News Service
It's weirdly appropriate that "Neil Young's Greendale" (DC/Vertigo, $19.99) has arrived as gallons of crude oil wash up on the white sand beaches of the Gulf coast.
Because one theme of "Greendale" is environmentalism. Another is natural synchronicity — of people, events and the huge wheel of fate. Whoa!
Anyway, "Greendale" is also a heartwarming coming-of-age story, a chilling contest with evil and a wondrous tale of "witchery." At least, that's what "Greendale" is in its graphic-novel form. I can't speak to what aspects are revealed of this strange little California town in its previous incarnations as 1) a concept album, 2) a rock opera and 3) an indie movie — none of which I have seen or heard.
And that turns out to be OK. In the hands of writer Joshua Dysart ("Unknown Soldier") and artist Cliff Chiang ("Green Arrow & Black Canary"), "Greendale" the graphic novel is completely satisfying as its own, singular animal.
It's the story of Sun Green — actually, of her entire family, but especially the Green women, most of whom disappear under odd circumstances, but all of whom have a connection to nature (abilities some townspeople describe as "witchery").
As 17-year-old Sun discovers her powers (and all the other wonders and distractions of being an attractive teenage girl), we also meet various members of her extended family — some of whom arrive only in dreams and hallucinations. We also meet The Stranger in Red, a character only the Green women can see, a "taker" (as described by Sun's great-grandmother) who is reminiscent, in a goose-pimply way, of The Walking Man in Stephen King's "The Stand."
Sun does some things we don't expect, but often her actions are as natural and comforting as a summer rain. My wife's reaction after reading "Greendale" was to re-experience that rain — to reminisce about her own younger years, when she, too, felt like a Green woman, "born with flames in our hands and bottled love in our hips."
But, oddly, I felt an empathy with Sun as well, despite being male. Perhaps that's the magic of adolescence, regardless of gender, or maybe just a tug from our roots — a reminder that we're all part of the natural world.
So I enjoyed "Greendale" immensely, just as scenes from the Gulf reminded me how prescient it is. Maybe that's synchronicity, maybe that's coincidence. Or maybe it's witchery.
"Neil Young's Greendale" is published on 100 percent recycled paper. More information is available at www.nygreendale.com.
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.