French Artist Nicolas Otero on ‘Who Killed Kurt Cobain?’
The graphic novel tells the story of the iconic grunge singer's death from the perspective of Cobain's imaginary friend, Boddah
We give you the skinny any time comics and hip hop hook up, but this time we’ve got something a little different…comics and grunge. Yes, you read that correctly, IDW Publishing (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers) are set to release the English translation of French writer/artist Nicolas Otero’s graphic novel Le Roman de Boddah: Comment J’ai Tue Kurt Cobain…or Who Killed Kurt Cobain? as it will be titled for North American release in the fall.
Because his English isn’t great and my French is horrible, we got Otero to answer a few questions by email regarding his unique take on Kurt Cobain’s life, his mixed media art style for this project, and his musical tastes in the ‘90s.
Mass Appeal: How direct an adaptation of Heloise Guay de Bellissen’s book Le Roman de Boddah is this graphic novel?
Nicolas Otero: Adaptation paves the way for interpretation. It isn’t the same story anymore, for sure. I broke the book’s structure, chose another narrative direction, and focused my attention on the love story. It’s a love story in the biggest way; love for a woman, for music, for the drugs…
I created a love story which is sad, rock n’ roll, and absolutely beautiful because of its purity, seen through the eyes of a child.
Other than the letter he left to Boddah when he took his life, is there any other documentation about Kurt’s imaginary friend?
Very few as far as I can remember. My goal was to incarnate Boddah as a person, a guy really close to Cobain since his childhood, like a conscience, the little voice in our heads. I draw him like a roadie and nobody else except Kurt is talking to him…ever. A kind of Tyler Durden experience!
Was Nirvana your favorite band in the ’90s? Were you into grunge in general?
It was one of my favorites, for sure. I really enjoyed this kind of music at that time of my life. I was a teenager and in France and Europe, music was really boring for young rockers before this sonic wave arrived. I saw them live in Paris, as well as Pearl Jam in the same month. I listened to Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, Screaming Trees, The Melvins, Alice In Chains, and all those kinds of bands. Long hair, big sound and riffs, incredible energy. That was a great time for sure!
I haven’t got a chance to read the book yet, does Courtney feature heavily?
At the beginning of the book, I write [or Boddah says] that I don’t care about all the rumors, the conspiracy theory, and stuff like that. I’m not an investigator, but an artist. What I was looking for was introspection, a view into Kurt’s mind and feelings, and the love for Courtney was part of that.
North Americans might not be familiar with your work, tell us about some other titles you are proud of?
My first serial called AmeriKKKa is a thriller released by French publisher EP Media. It’s nine books about the arcana of Ku Klux Klan. Very dark and violent and inspired by real facts. A good mix between politics, action, and history. I also like another series I’ve done called Uchronie(s) New Moscow. But Who Killed Kurt Cobain? is my best yet, the first that looks really like me.
Have any of your other comics been translated and published this side of the pond?
No, I’ve been translated in the Netherlands, Brazil, and Germany but this is the first one in the USA. And I hope not the last one!
Your style often looks like it employs water color, does it? Or is that digital?
On this book, everything is handmade. I’ve cut the little pieces of craft and wrote all the texts with china ink. I used pencils and feather, white Posca and the grey tones are made with alcohol felts that give this water color effect. But there’s nothing digital, everything is manual. It was a difficult but very exciting work!
Who is your biggest art influence?
I really like Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt. Power and sensibility, so much emotion…
Do you have any desire to do a superhero title for Marvel or DC?
I’d like to try everything that can give me pleasure. Drawing is my life, I put everything into it. So, why not? If I can give my artistic point of view, it can be a great experience.
Check out a 3-page preview of Who Killed Kurt Cobain? below.