Tribute: Elizabeth Taylor
Written by Dina Gachman and Nick Justus
Art by Warren Montgomery
Letters by Warren Montgomery
Colors by VJ Ruiz
Cover by Apri Kusiantoro
Release Date: September 30, 2012
Cover Price: $7.99
Comics are a labor of love and a literary genre that receives far too little press, not to mention praise. So, in the spirit of “there is no such thing as bad or in this case mixed, publicity” let’s move on. Bluewater Productions is an independent publishing company who specialize in biography comics. Their latest offering in this genre arriving in late September appears to be a mixed bag, with its heart in the right place, and its tongue firmly planted in cheek. Elizabeth Taylor: Tribute is a 40 page short graphic novel in their ongoing Female Force series highlighting the important achievements of famous women from Hillary Clinton to Marilyn Monroe.
Writer Dina Gachman blends pop culture with historical facts to highlight what made Dame Elizabeth Taylor such a celebrated actress and public figure, but is a bit heavy on the fizzy pop.
While I enjoyed the levity that comes along with having Taylor’s cherished Maltese Daisy as the narrator of this book, (after all she loved dogs and animals in general) it may have taken the narrative to a lighter place than was warranted for such a unique, beloved and talented actress. I question why Gachman both disparages the tabloids and their treatment of Taylor, yet allows her biography revolve around the same scandalous details of her love life that celebrity trash mags had a field day on almost all of her adult life. Framing someone’s chronology in the context of whom they married and when is only valid in my mind if the book were called Elizabeth Taylor Marries Eight Times to Seven Men. Otherwise, I would have liked to read a story about her amazing acting abilities, her favorite films she starred in, what she thought of Hollywood, her background, her later entrepreneurship or any number of questions one asks an actor/personal brand owner. Fewer details about her numerous hubbies and an omission of a random shout out to Paris Hilton, would have made this a more charming and informative read.
That isn’t to say the story is without merit. Gachman thankfully focuses a large portion of the story on Taylor’s charitable contributions to AIDS research and her commitment to the GLBT community. It is also chock full of enough tidbits of information to make this read worthy and a welcome addition to collectors of Taylor memorabilia. I was unaware before reading this she was humble enough to call her first (I feel well deserved) Oscar win for Butterfield 8 “a sympathy vote” or that she dealt with illness all of her life but managed to have such a legendary career. Seasoned fans and newcomers alike should find enough content to hold their interest, I just personally would have preferred a different direction.
The artwork by Warren Montgomery is inconsistent; some panels are gorgeously nuanced such as the stills from Taylor’s earlier films such as Cleopatra and Giant, while others seem to be drawn in great haste. While it is difficult to draw a women considered to be one of the most beautiful;actresses of all time aging, there’s no need to make her appear mannish and oddly a bit nouveau riche. In the 1980’s she was no tackier than anyone else in the public eye of that decade yet she looks like a parody of a drag queen. When drawing popular public figures it’s important that they be recognizable and again some celebrities like Montogomery Clift (Taylor’s BFF) and Richard Burton are given justice in this area and others seem to be thrown together and a bit creepy looking. Perhaps there were time constraints on this publication? The cover however is stunning and befits an ethereal diva who handled her earthy duties with humor, grace and oodles of diamonds trailing in her wake. With a bit more time to work on this piece research and artwork wise, I believe this book could have been great, but it is still well worth the $7.99 cover price for any lovers of Old Hollywood or Elizabeth Taylor fan.