Nobrow Press recently released Moonhead And The Music Machine by Andrew Rae in paperback form with a brand new cover. The original hardback version of the book actually featured in my first ever blog post (a round-up of Nobrow books for the Ohh Deer blog a few years ago) and it has remained one of my favourite graphic novels ever since.
The story follows Joey Moonhead, a completely normal boy in all ways but one - he has a moon for a head! You might imagine life to be pretty peachy with a moon for a head and in some ways it is for Joey. He can wander out of the atmosphere into galactic reveries and drift blissfully across star speckled plains whenever he pleases but these otherworldly adventures are juxtaposed with the harsher realities of life as a teenage boy. As his school's annual talent show approaches, Joey begins to build a music machine to end all music machines, aiming to prove all his bullies wrong and ultimately kickstart his course on the path to musical super stardom.
This juxtaposition of teenage drama and moonhead magic is the book's greatest strength. The classic high school drama elements of inattentive parents, a crush on the girl in the year above, bad grades and an under appreciated best friend are offset by intergalactic daydreams and rainbow-coloured jam sessions to create a coming of age story with a unique and slightly psychedelic feel to it.
Each panel of Joey's adventure is brimming with colour and vibrant, quirky design details which have become a key part of Andrew Rae's visual style. In particular, the way music is brought to life is inspired. Clouds of bright blue, vibrant yellow and hot pink burst out of Joey's guitar each time he starts to play, filling the page and perfectly capturing the electric feel of live music. The graphic novel is a very flexible format (something Nobrow have proven time and time again) but even their dream team can't make comic books play music so the fact that Moonhead's instumentals are a highlight is particularly impressive. Andrew's visuals are so catchy I wouldn't blame you if you started singing along as you read (if you are in public while reading then those around you might but I wont!).
As I said at the start, I first read Moonhead when it was originally released a few years ago and it doesn't surprise me even a little that it has been well received enough to deserve a second print run. As the publisher is less than a decade old, this seems like a slightly silly thing to say but Moonhead And The Music Machine is a Nobrow classic. With a mix of the ordinary and intergalactic, flawless illustrations and a good dose of music-based-karma, Moonhead and the Music Machine is quite simply (brace yourself for a moon-pun) out of this world!
You can order a copy of Moonhead And The Music Machine here.