Saturday, 13 August 2016
Who Killed Kurt Cobain?: The Story of Boddah by Nicolas Otero Review
Who Killed Kurt Cobain? asks the title and the following comic answers what everyone already knew: Kurt Cobain. I thought with the subtitle, The Story of Boddah, that Nicolas Otero would try to frame it as Cobain having a split personality (Boddah was Cobain’s imaginary childhood friend) with “Boddah” taking over and “killing” Kurt, kinda like a Fight Club interpretation. But no, Boddah’s a supporting character who appears throughout, chatting with Kurt but not really playing a major role in anything.
Instead the comic is a truncated biography of Kurt’s life in Nirvana starting when Nevermind took off to his suicide. If you’re familiar with the story like me, there’s not a lot here that’ll be new to you. Otero covers the usual topics with Kurt meeting Courtney, their courtship and marriage in Hawaii, the heroin, the detox, their daughter Frances Bean, the Reading concert in ’92, Unplugged, In Utero, the descent into psychosis and death.
Otero paints a sympathetic portrait of Courtney which I think is the right one - I’ve never been one of those conspiracy nuts who thinks she killed him; I think he was the love of her life and she tried to save him but Kurt was too determined to die.
I did learn a couple of new things like Come As Your Are’s riff was unintentionally stolen from Killing Joke’s Eighties (YouTube it, it’s identical!) and the weird duel between Nirvana and Killing Joke that resulted was bonkers. Also during their performance on French show Nulle Part Ailleurs, Kurt’s guitar strap breaks and that’s why he discarded the guitar - I thought he was just being a rock star - and his scream during Drain You is chilling, like a sonic glimpse into his inner torment; a month later he’d be dead.
Otero’s art is spiky, energetic and imaginative which I think suits the subject matter, as well as largely colourless, perhaps to reflect Cobain’s depression. But I did wonder about the point of the comic and its title. Cobain was suicidal because of lifelong stomach pains, a traumatic childhood, and mental problems exacerbated by heavy drug use – why question his death and then offer no alternative theory behind it?
If you’re after a comics bio of Kurt’s last few years and don’t already know much about it, Who Killed Kurt Cobain?: The Story of Boddah might be for you but otherwise it’s not really an exceptional comic and not worth bothering with for most Nirvana fans.