Ontario man turns Bowie song into children’s book
Published On Fri Sep 2
A Kitchener, Ont., man has hit legal red tape after illustrating a children’s book set to the lyrics of David Bowie’s classic song 'Space Oddity.’
A Kitchener man has hit legal red tape after illustrating a children’s book set to the lyrics of David Bowie’s classic song “Space Oddity.”
Andrew Kolb received an email from the song’s copyright owner suggesting he has infringed on its copyright by using it with his drawings.
The 25-year-old illustrator has since taken down a PDF of the full book from his website but left a few of the images he created in his portfolio, as he still hopes to smooth out the legalities and possibly publish his work and Bowie’s lyrics in an actual book, not just online.
“If I did have a hard copy, the legal gods would come up through the shadows, so I’m kind of hesitant about it,” he told the Star.
“I’ve been transparent that this is just for fun. I’d love it to not be an issue of legality but rather of collaboration. I’m not making any money off of this. I really just want to share it.”
“How cool is it to get a cease-and-desist letter from a music group?” he added, laughing.
The book’s 25 pages show Major Tom blasting off in a circular, yellow spaceship, while his wife and ground-control officials watch from below.
In an orange and yellow spacesuit, he floats through outer space with a jetpack until deadly asteroids appear headed straight for his rocket.
In the song, the flight is ultimately doomed.
Kolb said he tried to leave the ending open to interpretation because some people think Major Tom purposely decides not to return to Earth, while others believe there was just a problem with his ship that prevented him from doing so.
In his illustrations, Major Tom re-enters the rocket; it is not totally clear what happens to him as his ship starts to destruct.
Kolb said he tried contacting Bowie about collaborating on the project while he was creating it between February and July of this year, but he never heard back.
“I’ve always been taken by the story of Major Tom and the song. There’s always a musical element to my work,” he said, adding he often listens to music that suits whatever illustrations on which he is working.
“I find I gravitate toward older songs, songs before my time. (I get) nostalgic or romanticizing the era I never lived in.”
Kolb, who is also an illustration instructor at Conestoga College, said he would love to convert more songs into illustrations, whether for children or adults.
He declined to list which songs he had in mind to avoid any preemptive legality worries, but he said they are all from the late 1950s to late 1960s and have narrative lyrics.
“I’d love to do more, but based on what’s happened with this I want to use this as a guinea pig to make sure I do this right in the future. At the end of the day I want everyone to be happy.”