Under Bieber Achiever: Bio's Biggest Crime Isn't That It's Bad But That It's So Damn Boring

Justin Bieber cover.jpg
Bluewater Comics/Michal Szyksznian
To preview ​
tonight's concert at Honda Center, Heard Mentality reviews the bio comic Fame: Justin Bieber Unauthorized so you don't have to read it.

It's a common and universally agreed-upon idea among critics that there's nothing easier--and in most cases, more fun--than writing a negative review. Your fingertips become razor talons dipped in vitriol as each keystroke becomes a savage cut into whatever it is that has offended your artistic sensibilities. 

But sometimes when a critic encounters the proverbial steaming turd, he can't help but just feel sad for everyone involved. He can't imagine that any creative individual would intentionally set out to make something so inferior and so banal.

This is how I felt after reading Bluewater Comics unauthorized bio comic Fame: Justin Bieber Unauthorized

I take that back; my first reaction was, "What did I expect?" There's no fun in criticizing a work for not being the print equivalent of Raging Bull when all the creators intended to do was please the lowest common denominator--Bieber fans--and do so in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible. It's like blaming a bed bug for sucking your blood while you sleep. That's just what bed bugs do.

Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that sometimes you shouldn't crush that bed bug when you have the chance. And let me tell you, Fame: Justin Bieber definitely deserves some heel grinding.

For those of you scoring at home, Bluewater Comics has been making a name for itself as a publisher of hastily thrown together unauthorized biographies of celebrities such as Kristen Stewart, Betty White, Sarah Palin, David Beckham, Taylor Lautner and teen idol Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. 

Over the summer, I actually reviewed Bluewater's Lady Gaga bio, and while it was by no means any good, the writer and artist at least had the good sense to compensate for their lack of craft by creating a batshit insane story about some data entry shlub who wants to fuck and be Gaga at the same time. 

It's a technique that I wish the creators of the Bieber bio would've used. Instead, they tell a bland story with minimal dialogue that lays bare the equally minimal talent involved. As a general rule, it's a bad sign when a comic's colorist can't get President Obama's skin pigment right.

Bad Obama.jpg
Bluewater Comics/Claudio Avella
I'm pretty sure that's the president and first lady. It's hard to tell, partly because it's not a good likeness and partly because, like Stephen Colbert and the book's colorist, I don't see color.
Justin dream.jpg
Bluewater Comics/Claudio Avella
​The comic does have its moments when it tries to portray Justin's life as being as crazy as a pair of 10-pound balls on a 2-pound lady titmouse. Psychedelic music notes trail from airplanes as he tours the world, and Justin exhibits some form of Canadian celebrity synesthesia  when he studies math. The best example, though, comes from a dream sequence, which the writer implies is typical for a teenager. As a former teen, however, I have to admit I never dreamed about the disembodied Twizzler mouth or old-fashioned pocket watches. And I grew up in the 1980s. 

And then there's ... this. I'm not sure what ... this ... is. But well, it's ... this. And it's a double-page spread. And it frightens me.
Double Dream.jpg
Bluewater Comics/Claudio Avella
​Sadly, these are the exceptions. The majority of the comic trudges along blandly. Meeting Usher for the first time is portrayed as thrillingly as watching your Aunt Lucille argue with the deli lady about how she's deliberately trying to screw her out of 15 cents by fudging with the scale when she weighs her corned beef. Wait, did I say "as thrillingly"? Scratch that. It's portrayed "less thrillingly." It's so bad that I decided to "spice up" some of these scenes myself. If it's good enough for Aaron Sorkin ... well, I can at least shamelessly steal it from him.

Meeting Usher: Official version
Usher and Justin.jpg
Bluewater Comics/Claudio Avella
Meeting Usher: My version
Usher and Justin FAKE.jpg
Bluewater Comics/Claudio Avella
Getting grounded: Official version
Justin and Mom.jpg
Bluewater Comics/Claudio Avella
Getting grounded: My version
Justin and Mom FAKE.jpg
Bluewater Comics/Claudio Avella
Did I say something about how I felt sad ripping this comic? I take it back. This has been quite exhilarating. Makes me want to go after another waste of paper. Anyone want to send me copies of the Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal miniseries?

Other comics to check out this week
  • Beasts of Burden/Hellboy It's this week's equivalent of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup: two great thing that go great together. Writers Mike Mignola and Evan Dorkin team up with Jill Thompson for this quirky mashup of properties.
  • Captain America #611 Ed Brubaker begins "The Trial of Captain America," as the award-winning writer makes Bucky Barnes confront the evil he did as the brainwashed Winter Soldier.
  • Duncan the Wonder Dog The title sounds a bit dopey, but cartoonist Adam Hine's debut graphic novel has been receiving positive buzz online.
  • H Day Renee French creates some of the most lush and beautiful comics you'll ever see, and if you've missed The Ticking or Micrographica, you should definitely pick up this graphic novel about her metaphorical struggles with migrane headaches.
  • Incognito: Bad Influences #1 Of course, the Ed Brubaker comic I'm really looking forward to is the next installment of his supervillain-in-the-witness-protection-program series. If you like pulp stories and the art of Sean Phillips, you should be picking this up.
  • Superman: Earth One This reimagining of the Man of Steel by J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis has already been getting web buzz for two reasons: 1) Fans are frustrated with yet another reinterpretation of Superman, this one aimed a younger, casual readers; and 2) it's spawned the memes "Hoodie Superman" and "Emo Superman." 
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