Graphic Novel: Story of iconic Canadian band captures what was best about album covers

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It was a year ago this month that Neil Peart, the drummer for Rush, died. The songs Peart made with his bandmates and the lyrics he crafted endure, even if he is no longer in this world to bash on his kit.

If you’re looking for another way to experience Peart’s personality, and learn more about Rush, you should check out the 2019 graphic novel The Making of A Farewell to Kings. It documents a crucial stage in the band’s career.

The first thing you’ll notice about the glossy tome, published by Fantoons, is it’s the same dimension as an old-school LP. An album-sized book seems fitting for a band that prided itself on making thematically consistent albums with thoughtful lyrics, not just silly singles.

It was the first album Rush recorded outside of Toronto, and the book follows Peart, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson as they travel to the Welsh countryside to record A Farewell to Kings. If you’re not up on your Rush lore, A Farewell to Kings is the album that spawned the classic hit Closer to the Heart while broadening the band’s fanbase.


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I belong to the generation born in the 1960s that grew up with vinyl. Back in the day, we would put on our headphones, mellow out and stare at album covers. Album covers were music videos before there were music videos, and the highest compliment I can pay the creators of this graphic novel is by pointing out how every page looks and feels like a killer album cover.

On one page, Geddy Lee’s face is etched into the side of a mountain. On another, the power trio rocks out as a giant dragon snakes its way among the three of them on stage. And on yet another, the long-haired players pose confidently with their gear as they stand suspended in outer space.

It’s a trip, man.

Oh yeah, and consistent with the band’s mythology, studio executives are portrayed as cigar-smoking figures that are half-shadow and half-demon.

The centrepiece of The Making of A Farewell to Kings is an interview with the group about their shared history. It made my heart ache to see Peart alongside his mates, so alive, a poignant reminder of how unfair it was when the gifted musician was taken so abruptly from his loved ones by glioblastoma in January 2020 at the age of 67.

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