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Gonzo: A Graphic Biography of Hunter S. Thompson

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Over the course of Hunter S. Thompson’s extraordi­nary life he was publicly branded a bum, a vandal, a thief, a liar, an addict, a freak, and a psychopath. Some of which were true. Yet even when compared to the most significant figures of the 20th century, his legacy retains a brilliantly vital force. The great American writer, the great American iconoclast, the great Amer Over the course of Hunter S. Thompson’s extraordi­nary life he was publicly branded a bum, a vandal, a thief, a liar, an addict, a freak, and a psychopath. Some of which were true. Yet even when compared to the most significant figures of the 20th century, his legacy retains a brilliantly vital force. The great American writer, the great American iconoclast, the great American hedonist—however you choose to view him, Thompson remains the high-water mark for all social commentators worldwide, and a truly fearless champion of individual liberties. This is his story, the story of a troubled kid from Louisville who went on to become an international icon. A story that plumbs the darkest depths of American society and charts the now legendary adventures that birthed Gonzo Journalism, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and a lifestyle beyond imagination. Praise for Gonzo: “I was attracted to its bright orange cover and the drawing of the long-legged Thompson clutching a satchel, running away from something. It was enough to entice me to crack open the book. I didn't stop reading until I was finished, past my bedtime, a couple of hours later.” —Boing Boing “This diamond-sharp graphic biography is a witty, thoughtful book . . . Bingley and Hope-Smith’s portrait is brave and badass, taking the kind of chances Thompson would have appreciated.” —Publishers Weekly "Exactly what it says on the tin . . . brilliant." —Brain Pickings


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Over the course of Hunter S. Thompson’s extraordi­nary life he was publicly branded a bum, a vandal, a thief, a liar, an addict, a freak, and a psychopath. Some of which were true. Yet even when compared to the most significant figures of the 20th century, his legacy retains a brilliantly vital force. The great American writer, the great American iconoclast, the great Amer Over the course of Hunter S. Thompson’s extraordi­nary life he was publicly branded a bum, a vandal, a thief, a liar, an addict, a freak, and a psychopath. Some of which were true. Yet even when compared to the most significant figures of the 20th century, his legacy retains a brilliantly vital force. The great American writer, the great American iconoclast, the great American hedonist—however you choose to view him, Thompson remains the high-water mark for all social commentators worldwide, and a truly fearless champion of individual liberties. This is his story, the story of a troubled kid from Louisville who went on to become an international icon. A story that plumbs the darkest depths of American society and charts the now legendary adventures that birthed Gonzo Journalism, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and a lifestyle beyond imagination. Praise for Gonzo: “I was attracted to its bright orange cover and the drawing of the long-legged Thompson clutching a satchel, running away from something. It was enough to entice me to crack open the book. I didn't stop reading until I was finished, past my bedtime, a couple of hours later.” —Boing Boing “This diamond-sharp graphic biography is a witty, thoughtful book . . . Bingley and Hope-Smith’s portrait is brave and badass, taking the kind of chances Thompson would have appreciated.” —Publishers Weekly "Exactly what it says on the tin . . . brilliant." —Brain Pickings

30 review for Gonzo: A Graphic Biography of Hunter S. Thompson

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    Having read both Fear and Loathing books (Las Vegas and On the Campaign Trail `72) and The Rum Diary, Hunter S. Thompson's legendary life already felt unreal and cartoonish to me just from the antics he gets up to in those books. And the hilarious, evocative, desperate and vivid syntax he used in describing what he did and saw lent his books a surrealist atmosphere amidst the chaos of the times. Which is why a graphic novel of his life, focusing mainly on his glory days in the 60s and 70s, was al Having read both Fear and Loathing books (Las Vegas and On the Campaign Trail `72) and The Rum Diary, Hunter S. Thompson's legendary life already felt unreal and cartoonish to me just from the antics he gets up to in those books. And the hilarious, evocative, desperate and vivid syntax he used in describing what he did and saw lent his books a surrealist atmosphere amidst the chaos of the times. Which is why a graphic novel of his life, focusing mainly on his glory days in the 60s and 70s, was always going to fall short of Thompson's rich description of his own life. That said, Gonzo isn't that bad. It shows Thompson as always the rebel, from nearly being arrested as a teen in the 40s, to being forever on the road after leaving job after job until he joined Rolling Stone (under his own terms of course). It shows his work in parallel with the turbulent times, the Vietnam War, the Kennedy Assassination, the Equal Rights movement which all provided backdrops to his books Hell's Angels, The Rum Diary and the Fear and Loathing books. His own life had plenty of drama from running on the Freak Party ticket as Sherriff of Aspen to run-ins with political giants like Richard Nixon. The rest of his life, the 80s, 90s, and 00s, is dealt with in a few short pages and shows the great writer's decline into the grip of drugs and drink, and his inability to once more regain the energy and excitement of his most famous books. Gonzo is a fine summary of one of the most interesting writers of the 20th century but by no means comprehensive nor does it give the reader an idea of the genius of Hunter Thompson's words. For that reason alone I heartily recommend anyone wondering what Thompson was like to pick up Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Rum Diary which do him more justice than this slim comic book could achieve.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Erin Britton

    “I want you to keep in mind that I’d just as soon not be dismissed as some drug-addled clown.” While this question of image and public perception isn’t one that troubles the majority of us, it was certainly an issue that plagued Hunter S. Thompson. By turns described as the great American iconoclast, the great American outlaw, the great American hedonist and, depressingly far less regularly, the great American writer, Thompson carried for years a justified fear that he had succeeded best in beco “I want you to keep in mind that I’d just as soon not be dismissed as some drug-addled clown.” While this question of image and public perception isn’t one that troubles the majority of us, it was certainly an issue that plagued Hunter S. Thompson. By turns described as the great American iconoclast, the great American outlaw, the great American hedonist and, depressingly far less regularly, the great American writer, Thompson carried for years a justified fear that he had succeeded best in becoming a caricature of himself. It’s true that the legend very nearly eclipsed the man. Despite his fairly prolific literary and journalistic output, Thompson is still, even after his relatively quiet final years and untimely death, best known for his excesses rather than for his creativity and innovation. With Gonzo: A Graphic Biography of Hunter S. Thompson Will Bingley and Anthony Hope-Smith aim to redress this fact by offering an account of Thompson’s life that highlights those achievements and events of which the man himself was most proud. After a brief introduction, Gonzo begins properly with the incident of the mailbox that will be familiar to readers of Thompson’s Kingdom of Fear. This act of childhood rebellion and the defiance of authority that followed it were considered by Thompson to be the defining moments of his life, the moments in which the chaotic and rebellious pattern of his adulthood was begun. What follows is a chronological whistle-stop tour through Thompson’s life that takes in all of his newsworthy moments, including the launching of his career as a journalist, his time in Puerto Rico, the fateful visit to the Kentucky Derby, his time riding with the Hell’s Angels and hanging out with the Beats, his war of words against Nixon, his political campaign to be elected Mayor of Aspen, and his ultimate arrival at literary success and celebrity status. Gonzo is generally well-written by Will Bingley although there are many points in the book where greater use of dialogue and text would have been appreciated. It is actually a very quick novel to read since it relies very heavy [more so than the majority of recent real-world graphic novels] on the illustrations rather than on the written word. The majority of the panels are accompanied by only a few words or a sentence. This often works well as the art is so good in Gonzo but the book would have been even better if Bingley had added more text to explain Thompson’s motivations and actions during many of the key episodes of his life. Gonzo aims to be an accurate account of the real Hunter S. Thompson rather than a rehash of the myth and so it is a real risk to just let big events play out without discussing what was really inspiring Thompson at the time. Bingley has produced a good chronological account of Thompson’s life that helps to clarify all of his toing and froing and to illustrate how he developed as both a writer and as a person. It is a generally thorough account although there are a couple of noticeable omissions. First, the 80s and 90s are only given a page each and, although Thompson was certainly not producing his greatest work during his period, this is woefully inadequate. It would have been better to have a longer book that detailed Thompson’s despair during those two decades about being trapped in his own image, his recycling of old material and also his politics and the highpoints that did occur [for example, the filming of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas]. By concentrating on the most productive and ‘entertaining’ period of Thompson’s life, Bingley is once again risking writing a biography of Thompson the myth rather than Thompson the man. Secondly, there are a few important characters from Thompson’s personal life that are either underrepresented in the book or not featured at all, most notably Thompson’s second wife Anita and his son Juan. Despite, or perhaps because of, Thompson’s colourful life, Anthony Hope-Smith has chosen to illustrate Gonzo entirely in black and white, and shades of grey. Hope-Smith has produced an excellent ‘version’ of Thompson that is noticeably different from the Doonesbury persona and the illustrations of Ralph Steadman. His Thompson is vital and explosive and even on the quieter panels seems to capture the frantic way in which Thompson lived his life. His supporting characters are realistic in the main and their appearance is in-keeping with the text, although when famous faces [for example Bob Dylan] appear there is a tendency for them to be in their clichéd [or perhaps iconic?] outfits and poses which are not always appropriate to their position in Thompson’s life story. The Foreword by Alan Rinzler is an interesting addition to the book. Rinzler was Thompson’s editor for all of his earlier [and best] books and is at pains to point out that he and Thompson had a professional relationship rather than their being firm friends. However, Rinzler knew Thompson well, which is not to say that he particularly liked him as a person, and so can write authoritatively about his work. The legacy left by Thompson is a puzzle to Rinzler too: “Why isn’t Hunter S. Thompson taken more seriously? As his editor and literary goad for 35 years over four of his best books, I’m sorry to see that the public spectacle of Hunter as the King of Gonzo – a brain-addled, angry, deeply depressed, self-destructive lout – has prevailed in the popular consciousness while the real story of this ground-breaking prose artist and investigative journalist has all but disappeared.” This really is a puzzle since, when he was on form, Thompson really was exceptionally good at what he did. Rinzler has justifiably harsh things to say about the originally and worth of Thompson’s later works and it is clear that, despite their personality clashes, he had great respect for Thompson’s literary talent and so feels disappointed and almost let down by what Thompson allowed himself to become. The insight that Rinzler is able to provide into the life and character of Thompson is informative in itself and also serves to illuminatie Thompson’s motivations and self-view. Gonzo is a great, innovative biography of a great, innovative man. Hunter S. Thompson lived a truly extraordinary life and despite the complications that surround his image – whether he is seen as author, liar, freak, bum, addict, psychopath or visionary – he was one of the most significant figures of 20th century American letters and so, in his books and articles, has left an immense and important legacy. Always remember: “No sympathy for the Devil, keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

  3. 4 out of 5

    P.

    From the introduction, I got the idea that this biography was supposed to redeem Thompson's image a little, making him more of a respected writer and less of a person known for being out of his gourd on drugs, but after reading it I think the writer of the introduction was just expressing his inner wishes. It's a little rambling.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Friz Allen

    a concise explanation of HST told in mild first person. love black and white graphics, love HST, and love how tact the whole project is. not too over the top and focuses on him as a person, a professional writer and as a legend. a fun read for HST fans and would also serve as a decent introduction for those unfamiliar.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Doctor Moss

    This is more than just a graphic biography — the authors have a point to make about Thompson’s life and work. It’s often said that his greatest work came early, in Hell’s Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and in his articles on political/cultural topics, especially on the 1972 election campaign. This book takes a similar view and adds some color on his inability to recreate some of those early great works. The graphics themselves are clean and well-designed to set the mood of Thompson’s hec This is more than just a graphic biography — the authors have a point to make about Thompson’s life and work. It’s often said that his greatest work came early, in Hell’s Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and in his articles on political/cultural topics, especially on the 1972 election campaign. This book takes a similar view and adds some color on his inability to recreate some of those early great works. The graphics themselves are clean and well-designed to set the mood of Thompson’s hectic, scattered, and often depressed life. The two images that stand out are, as on the cover, Thompson in full flight to or from somewhere, and then in a kind of deflated contemplation, reflecting on things around him going in ugly directions. The text varies between a first person narrative, as if Thompson were speaking from the grave in reflection on his life, and a present-tense presentation of events in their time. All of Thompson’s life here has a kind of accidental haphazard quality to it. The constant is his commitment to journalism. His commitment was real and deep, but the forms it took went it some odd directions, sometimes spectacularly successful but with a cost. Thompson was writing a serious article on the death of journalist Ruben Salazar in a Chicano organized march against the VietNam War at the same time that he was writing the piece on Las Vegas and “the American Dream.” He calls the Las Vegas story “a fun thing”, “not a factual story . . . but maybe a true one.” It seems to have taken precedence over a more traditional journalistic focus on events and facts, a way to express and show something that couldn’t be shown in specific facts — fiction was a better way to show the truth. He had hit on something, and it was a huge success. What followed was different and deflating — the election of 1972. Thompson was deeply invested in the McGovern campaign. The only way McGovern could win against the monster Nixon was to draw on a new source of votes, the young vote, impassioned by opposition to the war. And Thompson committed himself to helping to make it happen. It didn’t happen. And now there was Nixon. It was a moral defeat. A defeat for the idealism that had survived through the war and the emptiness of the American Dream in Vegas. It all seemed to end then. Thompson’s wife Sandy left him in 1980. Here, in the book, the 80s are a blank. And in the 90s, Thompson’s life has deteriorated — he’s angry, frustrated, and unproductive. He can’t recreate the time or the greatness of Fear and Loathing, and, for that matter, he’s no longer living the life of Hunter Thompson, committed political journalist, but the life his success almost curely created, the anti-hero life of Raoul Duke. Alan Rinzler, Thompson’s editor for some of his best work, says in the Foreword to the book, “I’m sorry to see the spectacle of Hunter as the King of Gonzo — a brain-addled, angry, deeply depressed, self-destructive lout — has prevailed in the popular consciousness while the real story of this ground-breaking prose artist and investigative journalist has all but disappeared.” Rinzler is right, and I can’t help but think that some of the blame at least falls on us as Thompson’s readers, reveling in the Raoul Duke character and demanding that Thompson be Duke and give us another Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, instead of the guy that wrote uniquely insightful political and cultural commentary. We should keep reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas -- it's truly a great and innovative work -- but I really wish we had the author of things like his article on "Hashbury" or his 1972 campaign articles around to help today.

  6. 4 out of 5

    A.

    When I got this book, I was rather skeptical about it – partly because there are plenty of not-so-good attempts to capture Hunter S. Thompson's biography, partly because I just couldn't imagine a biography, presented as a graphic novel – especially a biography of such complex, contradicting and rich personality that Thompson was. But that is a beautiful biography. It is sincere, does not try to idealize him, at the same time, not demonizing him either, gently pointing towards the likely reasons fo When I got this book, I was rather skeptical about it – partly because there are plenty of not-so-good attempts to capture Hunter S. Thompson's biography, partly because I just couldn't imagine a biography, presented as a graphic novel – especially a biography of such complex, contradicting and rich personality that Thompson was. But that is a beautiful biography. It is sincere, does not try to idealize him, at the same time, not demonizing him either, gently pointing towards the likely reasons for his life choices, yet letting you figure it out for yourself. The simple yet powerful graphics add to the strength of the story which is told nicely, simply, yet capturing various nuances, tragic, sad, and funny – just like Thompson's own writing. By now I can't imagine a better way to tell his life story. The foreword deserves a separate mention. I think it is the best piece I've read about him so far, it feels accurate and right, precisely because it does not try to idolize him and his writing, as well as his addictions, describing it as it was, the complex person and his tragic fate. This graphic biography is definitely a must-read to anyone who wants to get to know the man behind the insane, yet beautifully-written texts, a very strange kind of a genius that Thompson was, in my opinion.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mc510

    Can't complain about the skill brought to bear on this graphic biography, but what I mainly got out of it is that HST was an unpleasant individual with serious personality issues from the get-go. I was hoping to come away with an appreciation and understanding of him as a skilled writer and insightful cultural observer, separate from they gonzo myth, but that didn't really come through. Perhaps it wasn't really there. Two lapses in the storytelling that jumped out at me. First, no explanation of Can't complain about the skill brought to bear on this graphic biography, but what I mainly got out of it is that HST was an unpleasant individual with serious personality issues from the get-go. I was hoping to come away with an appreciation and understanding of him as a skilled writer and insightful cultural observer, separate from they gonzo myth, but that didn't really come through. Perhaps it wasn't really there. Two lapses in the storytelling that jumped out at me. First, no explanation of why he decided to run for Sheriff. Second, very little shown or explained of his time traveling with the '72 campaign, as reported in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Combining the introduction written by Thompson's former editor, Gonzo contrasts a deceptively non-Gonzo portrayal of the mythical persona and real life writer Hunter S. Thompson. I wouldn't call myself a "fan" of Thompson's, but do respect his skills as a writer. This graphic novel admirably attempts to show the man and not the legend.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    It is a wonder I ended up even a smidge normal considering my teenage heroes are Hunter S. Thompson, Anthony Burgess, Anton LaVey, and Tank Girl. This is a great collection of the real history of Thompson’s life which was often not so glamorous. Beautifully illustrated and well-written.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Patrick McG

    If Hunter S. Thompson were alive today, he'd write a good profile making fun of Jordan Petersen, but he'd also be friends with Richard Spencer or something. So it's probably good that he's dead. The pictures were good. Three stars out of five.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Grant Catton

    A great overview of HST's life but a true fan of his work probably won't find much new here to chew on. It's always interesting to see someone else's interpretation of his life, mythology, and legacy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Adam Smith

    Solid graphic novel, but it really jumps around at times. I know that is kind of Hunter's style, but it works better in prose than in graphic form. It was still enjoyable, but there were definitely times where I was confused by the progression of the story.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Josh Clark

    I enjoyed a view of Hunter S. Thompson that gave more than detailed the drugs and alcohols. That being said, the illustrations were just alright.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rowan Bradley

    Honestly....... it was boring. I was interested for about 5 pages out of the whole book. It's not bad writing or bad art its just that Hunter S. Thompsons life was kind of boring.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bryanzk

    totally get me interested to read more about him

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dean Simons

    It's good in offering a glimpse of a man but it isn't wholly satisfying.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ishmael

    Makes me want to read more of H.S.T's stuff.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    If you like Hunter S. Thompson-you’ll dig this.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gareth

    Awful. Reads like a synopsis for a book yet to be written. Manages to both avoid Thompson's voice while focusing so completely on him that no other characters have a chance to breathe.

  20. 4 out of 5

    J.C.

    Good art. I like that this one is in black and white, suits the story. This graphic novel is basically playing the hits, but from a slightly different angle, the disappointing ending is included.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brendan

    A bit disappointing. Glimpses of his career / life at various stages. But there could have been more depth. As is, I don't think it properly explained Thompson's importance or what really made him tick.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Booth

    This was kind of a frustrating read. I can't say I was expecting a masterpiece or anything but I am a pretty big HST fan and I found it an odd choice to tell the story in the first person of HST, given this book was released posthumously. It's like the author was basically trying to do an impression of HST throughout the book. The content of the book itself hits the big highlights of HST's life and career. You have the Hell's Angels section, the Fear and Loathing section (both Las Vegas and '72 This was kind of a frustrating read. I can't say I was expecting a masterpiece or anything but I am a pretty big HST fan and I found it an odd choice to tell the story in the first person of HST, given this book was released posthumously. It's like the author was basically trying to do an impression of HST throughout the book. The content of the book itself hits the big highlights of HST's life and career. You have the Hell's Angels section, the Fear and Loathing section (both Las Vegas and '72 Campaign Trail), but so much of his life is just skimmed over. Literally the 80's, 90's and early 00's are covered in just a few pages with drawings of him sitting at a typewriter until the last frame (SPOILER ALERT) where he puts a gun in his mouth. Add all that to the bitter introduction by his editor Alan Rinzler, I would not highly recommend this at all. Go read an actual Hunter S. Thompson book instead.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hugo Schoen

    “Throughout history, art and politics have always shared a very close relationship. This is because art describes a nation in a way that pure politics cannot. Artworks, folk tales, songs, whatever…creates a common language, the neighborhood if you like – the cultural framework of a nation. Inside which everything, all national events and all politics, occur.” Hunter S. Thompson Hunter S. Thompson in recent years, with the emergence of new generations, has become a cartoon, a figure of fi “Throughout history, art and politics have always shared a very close relationship. This is because art describes a nation in a way that pure politics cannot. Artworks, folk tales, songs, whatever…creates a common language, the neighborhood if you like – the cultural framework of a nation. Inside which everything, all national events and all politics, occur.” Hunter S. Thompson Hunter S. Thompson in recent years, with the emergence of new generations, has become a cartoon, a figure of fictional fantasy, drug addled and almost inorganic in form due to his showcased excesses. His true nature and the point of his own referred existence have been tainted. That is why a biography in the graphic format, superbly done by Bingley and Hope-Smith, is the perfect way to display to these new generations, these inquisitive onlookers and late blooming fascinated children, and those who may have forgotten that Thompson was much more than a psychedelic reporter jumping from pills, to women, to the bottle and back again. He was a writer whose strength of wit and structure was built over time, of which this span of time was an extremely tumultuous era between peace and war, hippies and hawks. Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsburg, the Hell’s Angels, Richard Nixon, the ’68 Democratic Convention in Chicago, he was there for all of it. These people and events are meant to be recalled when present and future decision making is on the line, and Thompson lent his pitch perfect voice to those past events that were just as hysterical. ‘Gonzo’ alludes to this fact in a way that I don’t believe set prose could do as properly. This biography can be read for the historical context, a curiosity of Thompson, the graphic quality, or just for a good story. A reader that opts to engage in this graphic novel receives all four, with their money and time much better spent than watching, ‘Rum Diary’ or ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’. I understand that ‘Gonzo’ is Bingley and Hope-Smith’s first full length project. Keep an eye out.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    Having read "Fear and Loathing" both "Las Vegas" and "On the Campaign Trail `72" and "The Rum Diary", Hunter S. Thompson's legendary life already felt unreal and cartoonish just from the antics he gets up to in those books and the hilarious, evocative, desperate and vivid syntax he used in describing what he saw lent his books the feel of surrealism amidst the chaos of the time. Which is why a graphic novel of his life, focusing mainly on his glory days in the 60s and 70s, was always going to fal Having read "Fear and Loathing" both "Las Vegas" and "On the Campaign Trail `72" and "The Rum Diary", Hunter S. Thompson's legendary life already felt unreal and cartoonish just from the antics he gets up to in those books and the hilarious, evocative, desperate and vivid syntax he used in describing what he saw lent his books the feel of surrealism amidst the chaos of the time. Which is why a graphic novel of his life, focusing mainly on his glory days in the 60s and 70s, was always going to fall short of Thompson's rich description of his own life. That said, the book isn't that bad. It shows Thompson as always the rebel, from nearly being arrested at a teen in the 40s, to being forever on the road after leaving job after job until he joined Rolling Stone (under his own terms of course). It shows his work in parallel with the turbulent times, the Vietnam War, the Kennedy Assassination, the Equal Rights movement all providing backdrops to his books "Hell's Angels", "The Rum Diary" and "Fear and Loathing". His own life had plenty of drama from running on the Freak Party ticket as Sherriff of Aspen to run-ins with political giants like Richard Nixon. The rest of his life, the 80s, 90s, and 00s, is dealt with in a few short pages and shows the great writer's decline into drugs and drink, and the inability to once more regain the energy and excitement of his most famous books. This is an interesting summary of one of the most interesting writers of the 20th century but by no means comprehensive nor does it give the reader an idea of the genius of Hunter Thompson's words. For that reason alone I heartily recommend anyone wondering what Thompson was like to pick up "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and "The Rum Diary" which do him more justice than this slim comic book could achieve.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Gonzo, from its rock-solid mood-setting forward to its tear-jerking conclusion, tries to set the record straight on Hunter S., by emphasizing the man's journalistic struggles over a backdrop of life events, joys and losses. Beautifully written in a voice which had me convinced it was actually an autobiography, and well-quoted and paced, the text comes as visually-supported chunks which pull the reader through a short, but poetic tour of Hunter's life. The brisk format, despite its brevity, reall Gonzo, from its rock-solid mood-setting forward to its tear-jerking conclusion, tries to set the record straight on Hunter S., by emphasizing the man's journalistic struggles over a backdrop of life events, joys and losses. Beautifully written in a voice which had me convinced it was actually an autobiography, and well-quoted and paced, the text comes as visually-supported chunks which pull the reader through a short, but poetic tour of Hunter's life. The brisk format, despite its brevity, really manages to bind the pieces of Hunter's story for me; I now 'get him' to a satisfying degree. For me, this is a work of art which really does Mr. Thompson justice. I feel that, in order to get the most out of this book and to understand the contrast between this version of Hunter and the more popularly-known one, you should have already read some of his best-known works, such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Hell's Angels. It also helps to have some historical knowledge of the era he lived in, as many references are explained with subtlety, clearly with the assumption that you do have this prior knowledge. I wish it was a bit longer, in part because you can never get enough Hunter S., and I would have liked an explanation as to how the writer integrated the text and how/why he chose to 'speak with Hunter's voice' in the style of an autobiography (I mean, he's basically just copying and pasting Hunter's own words, albeit in a brilliant fashion, right?), particularly given confusion around credit where credit is due. This was a surprise hit for me, I would have to say this is a must-read for any Hunter S. Thompson fan, and there are some important lessons to be learned within these pages. I plan to buy a copy to keep in my 'library' posthaste. True Rating: 4.7 Stars

  26. 5 out of 5

    Charles Hatfield

    Gonzo is not an exhaustive biography of Hunter Thompson. It's a poetic one: a flickering, allusive evocation of his life and times; a drive-by tour of his landmark works, projects, stunts, and provocations; above all, an attempt to inhabit the style and sensibility of Thompson as a writer—not merely the wild, cartoonish figure he cut in American pop culture, but a writer, with soul and drive and a terrible, bottomless heartache. Much is evoked here but not thoroughly explained; good luck to read Gonzo is not an exhaustive biography of Hunter Thompson. It's a poetic one: a flickering, allusive evocation of his life and times; a drive-by tour of his landmark works, projects, stunts, and provocations; above all, an attempt to inhabit the style and sensibility of Thompson as a writer—not merely the wild, cartoonish figure he cut in American pop culture, but a writer, with soul and drive and a terrible, bottomless heartache. Much is evoked here but not thoroughly explained; good luck to readers unversed in the history it alludes to (for example, the violence on the streets of Chicago in 1968; the fall of Nixon, post Watergate). The book will mean more to readers who grew up with some of this stuff or have made a point of studying it. What sets Gonzo apart is its troubling, insinuating way of combining text and image. The relationship between the words (a first-person account in something likeThompson's voice) and pictures is seldom straightforward or transparent; for instance, the opening juxtaposes the news of JFK's assassination with images of Thompson hunting, killing a deer, and gutting it. By colliding captions with images in such provocative fashion, Gonzo succeeds in evoking Thompson's personality, his animating rage, his passion, and his sadness. The book goes by too quickly to make everything understood, but its conjuring of Thompson is no mean feat. Thank goodness the authors did not try to summon up the giddy, druggy excess of Thompson's most popular books, or to imitate Ralph Steadman's indelible illustrations of Thompson; what they've opted for instead is a quiet darkness.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Angel

    A good graphic novel, but it is so short and quick. It really only glimpses at the life of Hunter S. Thompson, focusing mostly on his "glory" years in the 60s and 70s. It is a very good, but very superficial introduction to the man. If nothing else, this graphic novel will make the reader want to seek out more by and about Thompson. For that, the book does include a small bibliography at the end. The book also features a good foreword by Alan Rinzler that puts the graphic novel and Thompson in s A good graphic novel, but it is so short and quick. It really only glimpses at the life of Hunter S. Thompson, focusing mostly on his "glory" years in the 60s and 70s. It is a very good, but very superficial introduction to the man. If nothing else, this graphic novel will make the reader want to seek out more by and about Thompson. For that, the book does include a small bibliography at the end. The book also features a good foreword by Alan Rinzler that puts the graphic novel and Thompson in some context. Most people know Thompson as "that gonzo journalist," more myth than reality. This book tries to humanize him, but there is still a bit more myth than reality it seems. The book does have good black and white art that goes well with the story. Fans of Thompson will probably feel the book is not enough. Casual or new readers to Thompson's work will probably enjoy it, but they will also want to seek out more. The graphic novel does have a pretty fast pace. I would say it is somewhat impressionistic for it moves in and out of various events in fairly quick succession, not giving much room to go in depth. Then again, it is a short book, and thus cannot do justice to the man, his work, and times. But it is a very good read. Overall, it is a good book, and one I think is worth reading. But it is also an invitation to learn more about the man and his times, and boy did he live in some tumultuous times.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Edward Cheer

    As far as my knowledge on Hunter Thompson goes, all I can show is "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". That's it. I didn't really know (or care to know) the story behind the man who got incredibly drunk and high in Las Vegas, and did all kinds of crazy stuff that may- or may not- have actually happened. And... well, this was a lot more dull that I was expecting. Sure, it paints Thompson in a much different light than "Fear and Loathing" did, but... I don't really see a suffering protagonist. Which, As far as my knowledge on Hunter Thompson goes, all I can show is "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". That's it. I didn't really know (or care to know) the story behind the man who got incredibly drunk and high in Las Vegas, and did all kinds of crazy stuff that may- or may not- have actually happened. And... well, this was a lot more dull that I was expecting. Sure, it paints Thompson in a much different light than "Fear and Loathing" did, but... I don't really see a suffering protagonist. Which, I know Bingley was aiming for. And I don't see a truly complex or interesting character. The other characters didn't get as much focus as Thompson, so oftentimes that means that the writer has to make the character in the spotlight as colorful, unique, and memorable as they can. The writer of "Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness" certainly did. But "Gonzo"... I didn't really remember anything from it. Events just pass by one-by-one, with little feeling of weight or consequence, and that could really help show the sort of detached life Thompson lived, but I want to see how much his alcohol and drug habits took a toll on his life. Not just a couple random spots where he takes a swig and snorts a line. I want to see a protagonist at his/her worst. And "Gonzo" didn't really do anything for me. I won't be reading this comic again any time soon.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    This was a captivating sort-of-biography. It was by no means all-inclusive. It was a quick, overall view of the career of Hunter S. Thompson, with a bit about his early childhood and state of mind towards the end. The art was FANTASTIC, incidentally. It worked very well with the writing style, which tended to be short, self-analytical and philosophical sentences. It was not written by HST, but they captured his attitude and style quite well. One thing I really, really enjoyed about this was the w This was a captivating sort-of-biography. It was by no means all-inclusive. It was a quick, overall view of the career of Hunter S. Thompson, with a bit about his early childhood and state of mind towards the end. The art was FANTASTIC, incidentally. It worked very well with the writing style, which tended to be short, self-analytical and philosophical sentences. It was not written by HST, but they captured his attitude and style quite well. One thing I really, really enjoyed about this was the way that they didn’t dwell on the drugs. They were there, both pictured and mentioned, and are given as a reason for his wife/girlfriend (wasn’t clear which) to leave him. But more than anything else, it focused on HST as a social activist and critic of the political machine. This side of him, though incredibly important to his work, is often overlooked in the rush to make lurid depictions of drunk-and-disorderly HST. His image as a grumpy and irascible drug user is of course a permanent fixture in culture. But we must be careful not to disregard his brilliance and dedication in the process.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Because that's where the beats were quickening. Defining a rhythm that was building towards a profound dissonance. And god knows I wanted to hear it for myself. Hunter S. Thompson was branded many things in his life: a psychopath, a bum, an addict. He was also alright at writing, he as. Gonzo: A Graphic Biography of Hunter S. Thompson takes away some of those fantastical myths and just tell it as it was about the man (although, some of it's still pretty mental). I mean, I enjoyed it because I Because that's where the beats were quickening. Defining a rhythm that was building towards a profound dissonance. And god knows I wanted to hear it for myself. Hunter S. Thompson was branded many things in his life: a psychopath, a bum, an addict. He was also alright at writing, he as. Gonzo: A Graphic Biography of Hunter S. Thompson takes away some of those fantastical myths and just tell it as it was about the man (although, some of it's still pretty mental). I mean, I enjoyed it because I enjoy Thompson and I found it interesting to read about him, rather than something explicitly by him. Having said that, much of it was lacking in comparison to Alan Rinzler's foreward, which just kind of blew most of the book out the water. He told it like it was, cutting to the chase - which, is generally the point of the biography - but in a far more interesting way. You know how the story ends, but it's still a dark ending to read. As an avid reader, Thompson fan, and writer of sorts, it was interesting to see the timeline of his career laid out like this. For those who aren't quite so into the writing side of it, it could be lacking.

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