When it comes to car guys, Steve McQueen was definitely a guy worth looking up to. Working his way out of a poverty-stricken and abusive childhood, McQueen became a top Hollywood star and an auto racing legend. By combining these vocations, he created some of the most iconic car-guy movies ever made. Most car enthusiasts know “Bullitt” and “Le Mans,” (and if you don’t, you should acquaint yourself immediately) but not as many are familiar with McQueen’s life, which was just as epic as his movies.

As a larger-than-life celebrity, it seems natural for Steve McQueen to share shelf space with superheroes. Motorbooks has released Steve McQueen: Full Throttle Cool, which renders McQueen’s life story in graphic novel format. Written by Dwight John Zimmerman and illustrated by Greg Scott, this graphic novel illustrates the actor and racer’s film and real-life exploits in unforgettable fashion. McQueen’s story unfolds like a hero’s origin story. Zimmerman and Scott start with his early life in Indiana and spin the whole chronicle up until McQueen’s death at age 50.

I am an avid reader, but I’m not usually one to pick up a biography. This one drew me in, however. The graphic novel format of Full Throttle Cool was a more inviting style that’s designed to appeal to a wide range of audiences, and I consumed all 96 pages in a single sitting. McQueen’s exploits have a, “Wait, this guy was for real?” quality that keeps the pages turning. The story is told through dialogue and background text, and rises above the occasionally stilted prose that’s often found in comics. Scott’s art is realistic, telling McQueen’s fantastic story while making sure that the cars and celebrities who feature in it are rendered instantly recognizable.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

Motorbooks is an imprint of Quarto Publishing best known for glossy historical tomes on automobiles and motorcycles. This graphic novel is a new direction, and it’s an entertaining way to learn about an often-overlooked automotive icon. If McQueen were alive today, he’d probably be elbow-deep in drifting, supercross and any other extreme motorsport he could find his way onto the track to try.

Zimmerman is the author of several graphic novel biographies, including The Hammer and the Anvil, which chronicles the lives of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. He is also the co-author of Lincoln’s Last Days, a New York Times bestseller. Scott is a film-influenced artist who’s worked for both Marvel and DC Comics on a number of projects.

Steve McQueen: Full Throttle Cool (ISBN 9780760347454) is available from Motorbooks with a cover price of $19.99 It can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and probably your local comic shop as well.

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