‘The Making of a Farewell to Kings’ Graphic Novel

I’ve been listening to Rush since I was a teenager, so when I heard there was a graphic novel coming out that covered how the album A Farewell to Kings was made, I was all in!

The Making of A Farewell to Kings Graphic Novel
Get up close and personal with Rush with The Making of a Farewell to Kings graphic novel (Image from Fantoons)

What Are A Farewell to Kings and This Graphic Novel All About?

A Farewell to Kings was the 5th album from the rock trio Rush and was released on September 1, 1977. The album was recorded at the Rockfield Studios in Wales. In 1977 the album as a whole made it to number 77 on the Billboard 200 chart and the single “Closer to the Heart” from the album made it to number 76 in the US charts. Those are just some of the numbers, but for most people numbers don’t mean anything. Most people relate to what was going on in their lives at the time when they listened to an album over and over again. This graphic novel gets that, because it does a great job of capturing where the band members were in their careers at the time and what they were going through at this point in their lives when this album was made. As a fan I really appreciated that attention to detail.

Rush was looking for a bit of inspiration when they picked their location to record their next album (Image from Fantoons)

So just how was this graphic novel able to capture the snapshot of this moment of time for the band so accurately? They went straight to the source. Alex Lifeson (lead guitarist for Rush) and Terry Brown (album producer for A Farewell to Kings) had direct input to the creative team behind the graphic novel. Speaking of, the team behind the graphic novel is:

  • Co-written by David Calcano and Lindsay Lee of Fantoons
  • Artwork by Juan Riera and Ittai Manero
  • Forward written by Terry Brown

“We worked incredibly hard to create a graphic novel that celebrates the music of RUSH, and the creation of the album of ‘A Farewell to Kings’ as a work of art. We think this book will be something for comics and music fans alike to cherish.” – Fantoons Creative Director David Calcano

The Rush strategy of just touring and letting that success help boost them to the top really helped.(Image from Fantoons)

What’s the Production Value and Content Like?

I received the digital copy of the graphic novel just a few days before going to the movie theater to see the Rush theatrical event of Cinema Strangiato, which was a behind the scenes look at the band’s R40 farewell tour. As part of the previews they had an ad for this graphic novel and they animated some of the artwork. Not all comic art can be blown up on a big screen and hold up well, but this artwork certainly did. It was an unexpected treat for sure!

The Making of A Farewell to Kings Graphic Novel
The back of the book has some raw sketches of some of the art used in the book giving you a glimpse into the process (Image from Fantoons)

The aspect ratio of the book is square so there are a lot of full page images that are utilized in the storytelling as well as the usual mix of various panel configurations. The story I think flows nicely. It is told from the perspective of the band members at the time they were fighting their way through the recording and the subsequent touring, both of which look its toll.

Fans love a good tour and Rush is awesome live, but it does take its toll on the musicians…(Image from Fantoons)

The story wasn’t just about the strict timeline of how A Farewell to Kings was made either. Proper attention was also given to the story behind the iconic front cover album art and even some back story on how the band was inspired to write some of their most creative pieces in this album and in previous albums.

The graphic novel tells the story of the photographer and the album’s cover art and also explains inspiration for several of their iconic songs (Image from Fantoons)

Verdict

I think David Calcano nailed it, this graphic novel is something that both Rush fans and comic book fans both can appreciate (but especially Rush fans). I was first introduced to Rush around the time of the release of the Roll The Bones album (a cassette tape back then) and from there I slowly started listening to the Rush back catalog of albums. So for me, A Farewell to Kings, was an album I didn’t know a lot about going into the graphic novel. But this made the read even that much more enjoyable. I read the entire graphic novel in one sitting one evening and have since been going back to re-read it again. You can tell there was a lot of effort put into this product with the aim of truly capturing the essence of the band and capture it they did.

The final product is a 12” x 12” 144 page hardcover book that you can pre-order now from Amazon ahead of the September 10, 2019 release date. If you are interested in this content, you should also check out my GeekDad review of the Clockwork Lives graphic novel. Oh, and it appears that The Making of a Farewell to Kings may be just the first of many graphics novels looking at Rush behind the scenes. Let’s hope that is the case…

The Making of A Farewell to Kings Graphic Novel
A little teaser that there may be more yet to come (Image from Fantoons)

Disclaimer: A digital version of the graphic novel was provided for the purpose of this review, but Fantoons had no input into the review content.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links.

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