How do you write and illustrate a biographical cartoon about an artist whose identity is unknown?
You make the real person(s) the centerpiece of a fictional graphic novel, mixing the non-fictional information into the framework of the fiction.
Banksy is an internationally renowned street artist known for his works that juxtapose serious statements in the context of the absurd.
While Banksy’s name and art have appeared around the world, the artist’s identity is unknown. People assume that Banksy is a man – and the people suspected of being Banksy are mostly men – but Banksy could be a man, a woman or a group of artists.
The irony is a comic to deal with a character whose identity remains a mystery. In most comics, the creators and readers know the main character’s identity, while the world in the comic pages has no idea of the hero’s “secret identity”. “Banksy” is about a person with a real secret identity.
To get around this, the creative team of writer Francesco Matteuzzi and artist Marco Maraggi place Banksy’s familiar story in the context of a woman trying to find Banksy at work, instead of encountering a young street artist spray-painting graffiti on a wall. They are caught and sentenced to community service together, where they clean walls.
While working together, she draws him into a project she is creating about Banksy. and he comes around and gets her involved in creating Banksy-type art.
While “Banksy: A Graphic Novel” is engaging, educational and entertaining, it has the feel of a religious tract advocating Banksy’s gospel. It often seems to be preaching rather than telling a story.
The book is part of the publisher Prestel’s prestige, hard-cover series of graphic novels about contemporary artists.