Among the titles available from IDW Publishing at the recent New York Comic Con was Who Killed Kurt Cobain? by Nicolas Otero, which is scheduled for release at comic shops on November 9. Based on Le Roman de Boddah by Heloise Guay de Bellissen, Otero’s graphic novel covers the highs and lows of the lead singer of Nirvana through the eyes of Boddah, Cobain’s imaginary friend from childhood. Otero had time for an interview during NYCC. I wound up having to stand at the IDW booth, which meant I couldn’t record and take notes at the same time. While English was not his first language, I got most of what he was talking about…
Bleeding Cool: How did you get interested in Kurt Cobain and Nirvana?
Nicolas Otero: During the grunge period, I was 16-17 [years old], and I was a big fan of this music. I saw them live in Paris in 1992. I saw many bands along this movement. It was natural of me to tell this kind of story. It was like I came back in my teenage years.
BC: What was the appeal of Nirvana for you?
NO: I liked the energy. I liked the non-conformist. It’s like they sent a message that you can do what you want to do.
BC: How did you get to adapt the book into a graphic novel?
NO: It was a strange experience. It all started with a strange dream when I was in the closet. I opened this closet and I saw blonde hair, and there was a lot of blood. In my personal life, I got a cousin and a friend who commit suicide just before, and it was really hard for me to understand that. My friend Heloise was writing this novel. I called her and I said, “I dreamed about your book, and I’ve got to make an adaptation. It’s really important for me.” She finds this very strange, I can agree, but she accepts and I did the book.
BC: How long did it take to do the graphic novel?
NO: It was not too long, but it was hard work. I worked really hard on this, but it takes eight months to do this. Everything is in direct colors and everything [was] manual. No computer in this book. I’ve read this book inside of me for so long, so many times, it has to go out and it was easy to do.
BC: Was it difficult to adapt the book with the perspective of Boddah?
NO: No, it was really easy. I take some distance with the book. I liked the narrative to make Boddah talk, but I wanted to do my own thing. I break a lot of things [and] I rewrite some dialogue. The adaptation is really different from the initial novel, so I wanted to do my own thing . . . a thing really personal and emotional.
BC: What would you want readers to take from your book?
NO: I hope they will have some different feelings. There is violence, there is a lot of blood, there is passion, there is drugs. Some parts are really difficult, really hard. The life of Kurt Cobain was extraordinary, sad but powerful and intense. I hope I put all these things in the book. People are going to read it [and] I hope they feel that.
BC: What else have you been working on?
NO: My next book was released in France two months ago. It’s called Confessions Of A Rabid, and it’s partially autobiographic because I was attacked by a rabid cat when I was four years old. I was nearly dead. I had horrible nightmares about that. I got strong treatment to save me, and it was the start of my story. You can find it in the U.S. next year. I’m [also working] on an adaptation of Stefan Zweig’s 24 Hours In The Life Of a Woman.