The graphic biography Steve Jobs: Insanely Great was an interesting reading experience. I’m no stranger to graphic novels, or even graphic biographies like Fun Home, but, like many of the Steve Jobs products produced in recent years, I had trouble figuring out where to start with this. The reason being, the graphic novel was never completely clear about the intended audience. Even the author interview I was provided with the copy was on the fence about the age group, and it sometimes showed.
The graphic biography was good. It walked the line between deifying Jobs and casting him darkly, showing a bit of each but always returning to his accomplishments as a grounding point. It had enough facts that a student reading it could write a perfectly adequate biographical essay, but was entertaining enough that students would actually read it.
My biggest question, however, and the one that is behind the question of intended audience, is whether parents would allow them to. Often, over the course of the graphic novel, there were pages focused on introducing readers to the technology of that decade. These pages definitely led the reader to believe that the graphic novel was written for people who may not have experienced those technologies. In other scenes, however, things like drugs were discussed in a light that wouldn’t exactly be friendly to today’s parenting methods.
That aside, the graphic novel was an accessible take on a story that’s familiar to most of us geeks, but one that’s undoubtedly valuable for kids who are growing up using Apple’s products but knowing little about the man who created them. The art style is simple, easily followed. Sometimes, for the ease of my eyes, I wish it had been done in ink instead of pencil, but rarely was it a big enough issue to bother me.
My verdict is, if you don’t mind having some intentional conversations with your children or students about drug use and acceptable behavior, this graphic biography would be a good choice to introduce the little ones in your life to Steve Jobs in a way that doesn’t cast the man as either Deity or Demon.