Had­don Hall

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David Bowie’s pass­ing last year – along with his as­ton­ish­ing fi­nal al­bum, Black­star – has led to a flurry of re­newed in­ter­est in the pop god­head. This comic bi­og­ra­phy looks back to the tran­si­tional pe­riod where the young David made the trans­for­ma­tion from long-haired folkie to pi­o­neer­ing glam god. It is, ef­fec­tively, Bowie Be­gins.

Ne­jib tells his tale from the point of view of the tit­u­lar build­ing, now de­mol­ished, then a grandiose old pile fall­ing into de­crep­ti­tude – and cheap enough for Bowie and his first wife, Angie, to move into. The young dude had al­ready penned ‘Space Odd­ity’ but the song had yet to reach ubiq­uity (that would come when it was at­tached to footage of the 1969 moon land­ing when broad­cast in the UK) and he was grow­ing in­creas­ingly weary of his many un­suc­cess­ful knocks on the door of fame. A se­ries of en­coun­ters – and a wild makeover courtesy of Angie – changes all of that...

The book isn’t a straight bi­og­ra­phy. Ne­jib con­flates, merges and, oc­ca­sion­ally, plain makes up events (no, as far as we’re aware Syd Bar­rett never lived with Dave and Ange), but this is a wit­tily told tale. Ne­jib has a great sense of space and ar­chi­tec­ture, even if his char­ac­ters are oc­ca­sion­ally a lit­tle hard to tell apart. There are some pow­er­ful mo­ments of pathos, too, with Terry Burns – David’s schiz­o­phrenic half-brother – oc­ca­sion­ally pop­ping by. The pop­u­lar im­age of Bowie in this pe­riod is of the ice-cold sex god, ca­su­ally shag­ging and drug­ging his way through star­dom, but Had­don Hall does a fine job of re­mind­ing us of the man as well as the myth. Will Sal­mon

This is where the magic hap­pened. More or less.

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