STEVE JOBS: INSANELY GREAT
Written and Drawn by Jessie Hartland
Published by Schwartz & Wade Books
Reviewed by Marc Mason
Advanced review; releases on July 21, 2015
My friends will tell you that I have a peculiar loathing for Apple products. That I regard the cult that has sprung up that salivates for each new product release is ridiculous. That I steadfastly believe the company to be the embodiment of corporate evil.
Those statements are all true.
So you can imagine how far a biography of Apple’s co-founder – the man who’s policies and personality are a huge reason why I hate the company – would have to go in order for me to get through it, let alone say nice things about it. Yet I must say those nice things, because writer/artist Jessie Hartland has done a tremendous job of putting together a fair, complex, and intriguing look at Steve Jobs. Who he was, where he came from, why Apple once kicked him out, and why Apple took him back… all the puzzle pieces are here in a brisk, strongly told narrative.
We open in Jobs’ youth, exploring his burgeoning love for science and technology, then move forward to his friendship and partnership with Steve Wozniak. It is from that pairing that Apple was born, and shrewd move after shrewd move sees the two gradually build a juggernaut that will eventually dominate an industry. Of course, there are bumps and bruises to be had along the way, including Woz’s exit and Jobs being shown the door for a while, but Hartland’s way of telling the story never leaves any doubt as to why events wind up happening the way they do. Jobs is a man with a vision of the grand design, and he found a way to put as much money and as many people as humanly possible into service of that vision until the moment he died.
Hartland has an alt-comix style to her art, which makes for an interesting visual clash with a story about technology, a subject that generally revolves around perfect angles and we4ll-rounded curves. Yet the artistic style is part of what makes the book so accessible. By focusing on telling the story in a visually inventive way, you get the flavor of Jobs himself – innovate something completely great and not worry about everything else on the shelves.
There is also a healthy bibliography included, as well as author notes on how she made certain storytelling choices.
I didn’t come away from STEVE JOBS: INSANELY GREAT with a new appreciation for the company or products that the man spawned, but I did come away with a great deal of respect for the strong art and informative narrative that Hartland delivers. Obviously, the devotees will be head over heels for this one, but for me to give it a recommendation?
Strange days, indeed.