Charlie Parker Takes Flight In Upcoming Graphic Novel, ‘Chasin’ The Bird’


Z2 Comics plans to publish the graphic novel Chasin’ The Bird: Charlie Parker in California on Sept. 8.

(Photo: Z2 Comics)

​The all-too-brief life of saxophonist Charlie Parker redirected the world, musically. And to mark his centennial this year, Bird is being enshrined in the graphic novel Chasin’ The Bird: Charlie Parker in California—which counts as the first time the saxophonist has been rendered in such a fashion.

Set for release Sept. 8, the book details Parker’s time on the West Coast, beginning in December 1945. Drawn by Dave Chisholm and colored by DreamWorks Animation Director Peter Markowski, Chasin’ The Bird chronicles a formative moment for the saxophonist: He had already cut some sides, including work with pianist Jay McShann. Savoy had released the “Billie’s Bounce/Now’s The Time” 10-inch, which included trumpeter Miles Davis. But Parker’s stint in L.A. would yield definitive tunes like “Orinthology” and “Yardbird Suite,” issued separately in 1946 on the Dial label.

“Charlie Parker is one of the most well-known figures in jazz, and to publish a chapter of his tragically short life story in comics is an honor,” Z2 Comics Publisher Josh Frankel said in a press release. “Jazz has always been a perfect complement to comic books, and certainly an inspiration to some of our greats as well. Robert Crumb would be proud.”

Saxophonist Wayne Shorter included a graphic novel as an integral part of his 2018 Blue Note album, Emanon, and Fantagraphics Books published French cartoonist Blutch’s Total Jazz that same year.

Two versions of Chasin’ The Bird will be available: The standard hardcover edition will include a flexi-disc, and the deluxe edition will be packaged with a limited-edition 45-RPM single and three art prints. DB

  • 23_Village_Vanguard_Joey_Baron_by_Michael_Jackson_copy.jpg

    “Bill Stewart has nothing to prove,” Baron says. “I aspire to that ethic.”

  • 23_Charles_Lloyd_1_by_Dorothy_Darr.jpg

    “At this point in my life I’m still looking for the note,” Lloyd says. “But I’m a little nearer.”

  • McBride__Kahn_copy.jpg

    ​Christian McBride and writer Ashley Kahn meet for a DownBeat Blindfold Test hosted by New York University’s Jazz Studies program.

  • Samara_Joy_%C2%A92023_Mark_Sheldon-4639.jpg

    Samara Joy brought fans to their feet in the middle of her Newport set!

  • Christian_McBride_by_Ebru_Yildiz.jpeg

    ’You can’t simply book a festival with things that you like,” Christian McBride says of the Newport Jazz Festival. “You have a responsibility to present up-and-coming artists who people don’t know yet. And you have to get people in the seats.”