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'Mercy On Me' is a Nick Cave Graphic Novel Biography

'Nick Cave: Mercy On Me' cover. Image credit: Reinhard Kleist / SelfMadeHero

Nick Cave is no stranger to works of art about his life. A 2014 documentary 20,000 Days on Earth directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, and co-scripted by Cave, depicted a fictitious 24 hours in the musician’s life, set before his recording of 2013 album Push the Sky Away. And now fact and fiction are blurred once more in a new graphic novel biography by German cartoonist and graphic designer Reinhard Kleist.

The comic, titled Nick Cave: Mercy On Me, will feature both various characters drawn from Cave’s music and writing, along with exploring Cave’s life. From his childhood spent in rural Australia, to his early career where he fronted the band the Birthday Party, a post-punk outfit that gained a cult following.

Nick Cave in his PR's office in Kilburn, London in July 1982. © David Corio

After they disbanded in 1984 Cave formed Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and the graphic novel charts their ups and downs and the various conflicts and battles Cave fought and endured in his quest for self expression. It also features Cave performing, recording, and his music videos, like a panel that shows Cave’s duet with Kylie Minogue, 1996’s “Where the Wild Roses Grow.” The video of which features Minogue underwater in a nod to the pre-Raphaelite work, Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais. Minogue’s homage Kleist calls, “the most gorgeous submerged corpse in the history of film.” 

In a statement about the graphic novel Cave said, "Reinhard Kleist, master graphic novelist and myth-maker has - yet again - blown apart the conventions of the graphic novel by concocting a terrifying conflation of Cave songs, biographical half-truths and complete fabulations and creating a complex, chilling and completely bizarre journey into Cave World. Closer to the truth than any biography, that's for sure! But for the record, I never killed Elisa Day."

Panels from Nick Cave: Mercy On Me' cover. Image credit: Reinhard Kleist / SelfMadeHero

Kleist has previously written graphic novels about Elvis and Johnny Cash, along with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. For this latest biography Kleist tracked the development of the Nick Cave project on a blog, with early sketches dating back to September 2014. So it looks like the project has been a few years in the works.

On the blog Kleist writes, “[Nick Cave] the musician is one of the greatest storytellers in rock music. Not only in his novels and scripts, which he wrote for films, but also in his lyrics and their performance. So follow me on the adventure to create a graphic novel about the work and life of Nick Cave.”

Nick Cave photographed at the Neo Hotel, Brighton in October 2005. © David Ellis

Speaking with German publication Deutschlandfunk Kleist also noted, “[Cave] loves to screw around [with] his legend. And that's really the fascinating thing about the fact that he actually creates his own characters...So I create my own Nick Cave.” While elsewhere in the interview Kleist notes, “In my story, it is not really so much about the man's life, but rather the relationship between the artist and the work.”

You can check out a trailer for the graphic novel below. And order it here.

Rockarchive is delighted to be able to offer various Nick Cave images as limited edition photographic prints which you can buy here.