It’s time for another entry in Humanoids’ Life Drawn imprint as Tommy Redolfi presents a surreal take on the transformation of Norma Jeane Baker into the legendary Marilyn Monroe.
Chasing fame and immortality, a downtrodden Norma Jean Baker runs away to the famously twisted Holy Wood, where dreams become reality. She gives in to the powers that be, and allows herself to be reinvented into Marilyn, a real movie star. Though Marilyn dances in the limelight, it’s not bright enough to purge the demons that crept through Norma’s past, and lurk in the shadows of her present.
There have been many attempts to document Marilyn Monroe’s tumultuous life and career, but few have been as ambitious as Marilyn’s Monsters. Hollywood is presented as a literal fairy tale setting where dreams are supposed to become reality and showbiz tycoons are even more carnier than real life. This is enhanced by the artwork, which for the most part accurately displays the showbiz styles and fashions prevalent during Monroe’s career. But at the same time, it often feels the style would be more at home in a Grimm fairy tale (It helps that Redolfi opens the story with a re-enactment of Little Red Riding Hood with Betty Boop in the title role). This style enhances the more disturbing aspects of the narrative with Norma’s almost complete reconstruction being particularly unsettling, which includes her induction to the world of showbiz and a disturbing surgery sequence.
Marilyn stands out with an almost ethereal princess like feel once she is reintroduced to the masses, especially when she is surrounded by the more unsavoury types of her industry. But Redolfi skilfully weaves in the cracks in her showbiz smile, with her identity slowly being stripped away as she becomes part of the system and the demons she thought she left behind slowly resurface, which helps drive her towards drugs and alcohol. Her tumultuous relationship with Joe DiMaggio is also examined which again is a perfect melding of the real life drama between the pair and the horror fairy tale approach Redolfi takes with the narrative and the art.
This is an examination of a pop culture icon that you don’t come across often. Anyone interested in a fresh take on the shadier side of Hollywood and strong psychological storytelling needs to give Marilyn’s Monsters a look.
9781594655357 – P/B – £22.99