The Justin Bieber Comic Is Completely Ridiculous
Three years ago, Bluewater Productions switched to a business model that was almost entirely supported by slipshod unauthorized biographies of celebrities, so it should come as no surprise that they've hopped on the money train with a comic about Justin Bieber.
How could they not? I mean, at this point it was inevitable.
I've had to review a couple of these here at ComicsAlliance, so I figured going into this one that I was prepared for the worst Bluewater had to offer in their latest shameless attempt at bilking tweens out of four bucks a copy, but as it turns out, the bottom of that particular barrel goes even lower than I expected.In terms of format, Fame: Justin Bieber is pretty straightforward, and I've got to admit that I found this to be a little disappointing. After all, the only thing I've actually liked about Bluewater's bio-comics -- which are a lot like papercuts, in that they're shallow but incredibly painful to deal with -- is how bizarre the narrative structures get in order to pad them out to 22 pages. Hell, if they had to introduce an entire cast of characters dealing with obsession and psychological conflict just to tell the story of the 24-year-old Lady Gaga, then the 17-year-old Bieber should've required the creation of an entire universe.
Instead, it's just a straight recitation of facts culled from Wikipedia and set into caption boxes, and like I said: huge letdown. I mean, Stephenie Meyer had Dracula narrating her life story! Dracula! Surely Bieber deserves someone other than just a boring-ass omniscient narrator. This is just off the top of my head here, but maybe the lost first love from "Baby" could tell the story of how she totally regrets breaking up with him now that he's all big-time.
Or maybe they could go metatextual and have it be the story of a stalwart but put-upon critic forced by his evil editor to read through a stupid biography and learn all these facts against his will. Just a thought
If nothing else, you'd think that the fact that they are legally obligated to put the word "Unauthorized" on the cover would at least lead them to maybe throw a little speculation in there for good measure, but no. There is only one scene in the entire book that is elaborated beyond just being an illustrated bullet point, and it is this:
Oh man, what a thrill ride. For a second there I thought Justin Bieber wasn't going to get grounded, but then he did. And then his mother kissed him so hard that he developed Bell's Palsy.
But in a way, the fact that the script indulges in absolutely no creativity or skill in its delivery makes it completely bulletproof to criticism. The only thing I can say about it is that it's monumentally boring, and even then, there's the ready-made excuse that as someone who doesn't really care one way or the other about the Bieber, I'm not the market they're going for. And that's true: Despite the presence of a set of My Little Pony figures on my desk even as I write this, I'm not in the target audience.
Fortunately, the blandness of the script is more than made up for by the thoroughly awful art.
As we've already seen, the art in this comic is what I'd charitably refer to as not very good. From what I've seen, it's pretty typical of Bluewater's usual tactic of hiring relative unknowns and getting them to turn around a book as fast as possible with a heavy reliance on what I would also charitably refer to as "photo reference."
Seriously, if you'd like an idea of what the art in this comic is like, just type the words "Justin Bieber" into Google Image Search. It's like that, only poorly drawn:
Just for the record, that's page one of the search results. You know, just in case you were wondering how much research the creators over at Bluewater were doing before they called it a day.
But again, I was expecting the heavy reliance on
tracing photo reference. To be honest, they even have the upside of making some of the panels look sort of like the person they're supposed to be depicting. Otherwise, you get stuff like this:
That's supposed to be Tina Fey there on the left. I have to hand it 'em, though: that sour-lookin' kid in the blue hoodie there behind JB is a dead ringer for exactly what I looked like while I was reading this thing.
What I wasn't prepared for, however, were some of the stranger directions that the art went in. Like this panel, for instance:
That would appear to be Mrs. Justin Bieber's Mom, naked save for a bedsheet, cuddling her baby, who has a surprisingly full set of teeth. Also, there is a sailboat painting involved. Now, this comic is the most Bieberology I've been exposed to at one time so I have no idea if this is based on an actual photograph that fans would've seen in your Tiger Beat or your Cosmo Girl or what have you, but still. That's a pretty weird choice for page one of your comic book, right?
But that's just the start. Next -- and I am not kidding -- there's a picture of Bieber getting out of the shower. Now, that one I completely understand, as I imagine it's exactly what the target audience wants out of this nonsense, but then we get to the end of the book and holy crap is this thing even legal?!
With that panel, this book crossed the line from "pretty shady" to "I'm not sure I want to keep this in the house and regret not paying cash for it while wearing a disguise so that there isn't a paper trail."
There is one thing that almost completely redeems it, though: A dialogue-free double-page spread that I think is meant to represent Bieber's meteoric rise to fame, but ends up being completely insane.
I don't even know where to begin with this thing. The Easter Island Moai head statue? The recreation of Hokusai's Great Wave off Kanagawa, but with the addition of numbered imps in a rowboat and an off model Squirtle? The lensflares that appear to represent binary star systems? The flying saucer on the right edge?
Or maybe, just maybe we should talk about the swooning naked pixie.
I'm not even joking here: I would pay the cover price of this thing just to see what the script for this page looked like. Given the banality of the rest of the comic, I have trouble believing that the writer actually wrote a panel description listing floating '70s era televisions, exploding volcanoes and waves breaking over a giant heart with a rainbow of piano keys coming out of it, so I have to imagine that it was something along the lines of: "PAGES 8 AND 9: Take 3 grams of peyote, then stare at this Lisa Frank binder and see what happens."
That bit of engaging surreality aside, Fame: Justin Bieber is, as expected, one of the worst comic books I have ever read. But to Bluewater's credit, I did learn something about Justin Bieber from this comic. Specifically, I learned that sometimes, he thinks very hard about numbers.
And it's no wonder he's having to think so hard. Those things aren't even right-side up! There's no way to tell if that's a 3 or a W, let alone if that other one's a six or a nine!
Also, I learned that Bluewater has the amazing ability so smash through the basement and into a new low every time they put out a comic, but c'mon. We all knew that one already.