The Zen of Steve Jobs
written by Caleb Melby
illustrated by Jess3
Forbes writer Caleb Melby and artist Jess3 began working on this semi-biographical book before Steve Jobs’ unfortunate and untimely death in 2011. Since then, Walter Isaacson’s prose book Steve Jobs has become an international bestseller. This comic doesn’t concentrate on the larger scope of Jobs’ life and its huge impact on people around the globe. Instead, it focuses on a friendship between Jobs and a Zen Buddhist priest named Kobun.
The art is pretty incredible. I loved its stripped-down, bare-bones approach coupled with soft, muted dual tones. The art is simple and approachable in the way Apple products are, and the simplicity fits well with the arc of the narrative.
The story is an imagining of what occurred between Jobs and Kobun, who were friends on and off for two decades. As such, it feels somewhat “off” to pretend we can truly know what their conversations were like through the years. Yet Melby spent a lot of time interviewing former students of Kobun and others to build a reliable framework. Moreover, he keeps his text simple and straightforward. What results is an interesting, intriguing look into the spiritual life of a remarkable creative genius.