Bill Sienkiewicz 1995: Voodoo Child | Illustrated Legend of Jimi Hendrix
This is easily one of my very favorite Sienkiewicz projects. At 124 fully painted pages, this Jimi Hendrix biography is the equivalent to a five-issue comic book arc, putting it on par with the magnitude of Sienkiewicz’s other great works: Elektra: Assassin, Stray Toasters, and Big Numbers.
It is a magnificent example of the power of graphic storytelling — it doesn’t so much attempt to provide a straight-laced biography of the subject, so much as it makes the reader feel the story. The marriage of artist and subject never seemed so fitting and the results are a wonder to behold.
Which is why it’s so surprising to learn that the book is but a shadow of what Sienkiewicz had intended:
The Hendrix book was a mixed experience … I love music and I like Hendrix, but I was not fanatical about his music. But I felt that comics as a metaphor for music could work, in terms of cutting loose and really doing something storywise. I anticipated doing a lot of that, but the publisher of the book did not want to push it as much as I wanted to. So consequently the whole project to me is something I do not see as what it became, but what it could have become. Not that I’m not proud of it, but I feel, if I’m being generous, that it is fifty to sixty percent of what I ultimately saw it to be, in terms of really pushing it the way I wanted to. Working on a book about Jimi Hendrix, what better place and icon to cut loose on? That was more an indication of me not wanting to play it safe, except I was working with someone who did.