ComicsAlliance readers should by now be familiar with the work of Andrew Kolb. We’ve spotlighted the illustrator’s work a couple of times before, first for his groovy representations of The Walking Dead and other beloved artifacts of pop culture, and most recently for his work with some of comics, film and television’s most famous double-acts like The Muppets’ Bunson and Beaker and Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob, but in the style of carved wooden blocks.
Kolb’s latest work is more ambitious, telling the story of David Bowie’s classic “Space Oddity” in the style of an illustrated children’s book. The tale of doomed Major Tom plays out in Kolb’s bright and retro animation style, giving a face to the legendary Bowie character and making the conclusion that much sadder.Released in 1969 and considered a classic today, David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” is obviously a reference to Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Like the film, Bowie’s song tells the story of an isolated astronaut whose life is threatened by a malfunction. Unfortunately for Bowie’s Major Tom, the character’s ultimate fate is decidedly grimmer than that of Kubrick’s Dave Bowman (Unless you want to get into Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes” or the Pet Shop Boys remix of “Hallo Spaceboy” or the Peter Schilling fanfiction of “Coming Home”)
If Bowie’s telling of the story sounds a bit dire from the start, Kolb’s reinterpretation is decidedly optimistic. Kolb’s illustrations also take their cues from that 1960s vision of the future seen in Kubrick’s films, but with the artist’s distinctly cheerful vibe that humanizes every aspect of the story, not the least of which are Major Tom’s space capsule and Ground Control themselves. Everything looks shiny and new, everybody is smiling and happy, and there’s no reason to think anything is going to go wrong. But of course it does, and in a way that fans of Bowie’s song will find quite clever. Without giving too much away, Kolb looked to the curious lyric, “And the stars look very different today” as a way to depict what exactly went wrong far above the moon.
We recommend you listen to “Space Oddity” while reading Kolb’s book version, whose “silent pages” imagine perfectly what those musical moments without lyrics suggest. You can download