Kareem-Abdul Jabbar to Pen the Introduction to Upcoming Charlie “Bird” Parker Graphic Novel
Jul 31, 2020
In honor of the 100th anniversary of Charlie “Bird” Parker’s birth, the life of the jazz icon will be told in the pages of an upcoming graphic novel to be released by Z2 Comics in late September, now with an introduction by basketball and cultural icon Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
During his short life, Bird changed the course of music. He was a pioneering composer and improviser who ushered in a new era of jazz and influenced subsequent generations of musicians, writers and artists. Music industry legend Quincy Jones once said, “I believe that a hundred years from now, when people look back at the 20th century, they will view Bird, Miles and Dizzy as our Mozart, Bach, Chopin and Tchaikovsky.”
Similarly, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s time in the NBA will remain one of the most celebrated eras in the history of the sport itself. Jabbar, a 6x world champion, holds the record as the NBA’s All-Time Leading Scorer, boasting 38,387 points in his twenty-year career. Since retiring in 1989, he has gone on to become a celebrated New York Times-best-selling author, filmmaker, ambassador of education, columnist and cultural commentator. As a social justice activist, Kareem was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian honor by former President Barack Obama. As a student and Jazz historian, Kareem’s voice is the perfect introduction to the world of Charlie Parker in California.
“Chasin’ the Bird, a phenomenal graphic novel…becomes an archeological dig into the legend that was Bird—and the man that was Charlie Parker” says Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. “What is especially impressive is how Dave Chisholm and Peter Markowski capture in words and art, the spirit of Bird’s music, rooted in the traditions of classic music but reshaped into his own—and their own—personal expression. It is the universal quest each person embarks on to find their unique voice.”
This groundbreaking graphic novel tells the story of Bird’s time in L.A. starting in December 1945, where Bird and Dizzy Gillespie brought frenetic sounds of bebop from the East Coast jazz underground to the West Coast for a two-month residency at Billy Berg’s Hollywood jazz club. This marked the beginning of a tumultuous two year-stint for Bird bumming around L.A., showing up at jam sessions, crashing on people’s couches, causing havoc in public places, and recording some of his most groundbreaking tracks, “A Night in Tunisia” and “Ornithology,” as well as “Relaxin’ At Camarillo,” inspired by the end of his time in SoCal at the Camarillo State Hospital. The novel explores Bird’s relationship with the characters and events he encountered during his time in L.A. including recording some of his signature songs with Dial Record founder Ross Russell, a brief but influential stay at the home of famed jazz photographer William Claxton, a party for the ages at the ranch home of artist Jirayr Zorthian, and others who found themselves in the orbit of the jazz genius.
“This is one of the greatest projects we have ever had the privilege to be a part of” says publisher Josh Frankel. “The passion that Dave and Peter put into this work is unparalleled, and to add the words of one of the most prolific cultural critics, let alone one of the greatest athletes in history is truly humbling for all of us. We are certain that this is destined to be one of the graphic novels of the year, if not a high watermark for the decade ahead.”
Chasin’ The Bird (JUL201558) is being released during the centennial of Bird, dubbed Bird 100, as one of the many initiatives celebrating the extraordinary career of the trailblazing jazz icon. This special graphic novel, named for Charlie Parker’s 1947 standard, and adapts one of the sunnier, but darker chapters in the life of Bird, and is available for preorder now at your local comic shop.