Five Songwriters Who Deserve The Comic Book Treatment

Morrissey, from Unite and Take Over

This November, at the Tucson Comic-Con, a new comic will be launched, called Unite and Take Over: Comic Book Stories Inspired by The Smiths. It’s the 78-page brainchild of publisher Shawn Demumbrum, who brought in artists like Christian Vilaire, Henry Barajas, Jeff Pina, and Shelby Robertson, to help him illustrate a series of stories which take Morrissey’s lyrics as inspiration.

And this set us thinking. Who else from the British rock and pop firmament has the kind of material which would lend itself to a comic book setting? Which other singers or songwriters have created a body of work which would lend itself to a visual retelling?

Here’s our list. You can add yours underneath:

NB: Clearly there are already comics devoted to some of the artists in this list, Roch & Roll Comics does illustrated biographies, what we’re talking about is using their work to fuel the imagination of comic book artists, rather than their life history.

Elvis Costello

Well this guy already dresses like Clark Kent, and the lyric to his song “The Comedians” appears in Alan Moore’s mighty Watchmen, so he’s got form. But it’s his song lyrics which would best suit a little bit of illustration. Can you imagine a noir-ish comic, like Sin City, set to the lyrics of “Watching The Detectives”? That’d work. Or a dark, obsessive comic, detailing one man’s epic jealousy after losing the girl of his dreams to another man, set to the lyrics of “I Want You”?

Heck, he even did a song called “God’s Comic,” although that was about a comedian, and God himself. It would, however, still make a brilliant comic book.

Alex Turner

Again, Peter Parker on the outside, seething superbrain on the inside. The whole of the first Arctic Monkeys album was intended to describe a night out in Leeds, taken from various different perspectives, where everyone behaves badly, and all viewed by a gimlet-eyed watcher, for whom no detail is too small.

Now, Watchmen readers, isn’t that what Rorschach does? Granted, he’s a little more pro-active about changing things, and a little less keen to see the humour, but the job is essentially the same one. Not that we’re suggesting Rorschach would be a good songwriter.

Pulp

Two words: adult Archie. C’mon, if you used a song like “Babies” or “Disco 2000″ as the basis for an Archie-type comic, one in which the teen protaganists acted more like real teenagers, that would be rather great, wouldn’t it?

Imagine the whole gang sitting around discussing the first time they had sex. Imagine a furious Jughead giving some girl a verbal lashing over her desire to live like common people? Imagine the gang going out raving for the first time ever, and poor Archie (or, without wishing to get ourselves into legal trouble, a character along the lines of Archie but not Archie himself) getting left behind afterwards.

The Cure

You’ve all read The Crow, right? If ever there was a comic that shared a common aesthetic with the Cure’s singular body of work, it’s that. Imagine a monochrome comic reinterpretation of classic creepy Cure songs like “Lullaby” or “The Walk,” interspersed with day-glo psychedelic Yellow Submarine artwork, detailing the happy songs like “The Lovecats” or “Friday I’m In Love.”

Wouldn’t that kind of juxtaposition create the most bipolar comic on Earth? And what if the Crow side invaded the Yellow Submarine side? An invasion of the Black Meanies? OK, I’m getting carried away now.

Adele

The X Men have Banshee, an Irish mutant fella (based on the female mythical creature), who can perform a ‘sonic scream’, capable of destroying all in its path, and deafening anyone foolish enough to wave an ear in its direction. The real world has Adele, a Londoner who appears to be blessed with this very real power.

Why is she not using it to fight evil? Why is she not going out in the dead of night, dressed in skin-tight lycra, and shouting at muggers until their heads explode? And assuming she is not, why isn’t anyone making a comic out of her doing that exact thing? A couple of bars of “Rolling In The Deep” should be enough to scare the most fearsome gangster into going straight.

Who did we miss? Tell us here:

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 13 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Music.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

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