In keeping with this subject, how about turning music to comics or webcomics? In sticking with our maxim that “five is fantastic” (ok, I may have just made that up right now) here are my five picks for artists whose work should be considered a plethora of inspiration for comic or webcomic artists to borrow from, perhaps even a great first step for a collaborative project where the visual and auditory meld into something truly fantastic. Granted, there are issues regarding whether artists would even want their works to be seen in such a format, and there is a great potential that such endeavors could go terribly awry in the wrong hands, but it seems that the possibility for some great entertainment should trump such concerns. I know there are many, many more artists than these five who have works with amazing adaptation potential, so if you have an opinion please answer this in the comments: which musicians do you think have songs that are ripe for the picking for visual adaptations?
Oh, and musical superstars who happen to read this, if anything awesome comes out of this, I demand attribution. And maybe money. (EDITORS, feel free to delete this.) [Meh,we'll let it stand for the traditional 10% cut- The Editors]
Artist: Jonathan Coulton
Genre: For starters, the struggles of nerd kind, the undead, robots, gigantic squids.
Comic possibilities: It is almost cheating to mention Jonathan Coulton as an inspiration for derivative comic works. One reason is that his works have indeed inspired the very talented artist Len Peralta’s Visual Thing a Week which is already a pretty fair visual representation of his Thing a Week project. The second reason is that the subject matter of a very large chunk of his song selection seems tailor made for comic adaption; the title of the album Our Bodies, Ourselves, Our Cybernetic Arms alone evokes futuristic imagery that would be just amazing. A brief description of some of the songs that would in and of themselves make for great feature comics: Code Monkey, the struggles of an office worker that simultaneously bemoans the soul crushing nature of work and a unrequited love; De-Evolving, the pressures upon marriage caused by the husbands “de-evolving” into a monkey; I Crush Everything, a misunderstood giant squid seen as a destructive monster who really just wants companionship.
Artist: Paul and Storm
Genre: In your face humor.
Comic possibilities: The duo of Paul and Storm’s has produced a library of often adult leaning and belly laugh inducing songs that has been pleasing listeners since 2004. Their effortless guffaw producing pieces about pirates, negligent parents, and sex has great potential for comedic images that would practically splatter themselves across the pages of any artist daring enough to wrestle the walrus of their discography into a graphic body of work. Though perhaps The Captain’s Wife’s Lament would require much censorship.
Artist: Ingrid Michaelson
Genre: Slice of life, quirky romances, heartbreak.
Comic possibilities: Ingrid Michaelson’s music is decidedly feminine, many times courageous, often hopeful and at many times wonderfully quirky. Such a combination of these appealing factors could marry themselves into an intensely personal, humorous, and inspiring graphic novel telling the story of the lives of women (or heck, just people) making their way through the world in a journey of discovery, romance, while never settling to accept the ordinary.
Genre: Geek struggles, the bizarre, emo.
Comic possibilities: Weezer’s music over time has covered much that appeals to the nerdy, geeky, lovelorn and laugh seeking listening audience. In an admittedly arbitrary exercise, one song from their first five albums will now be presented as a comic strip pitch. Undone-The Sweater Song, a young man in ragged attire seeks to protect his heart and clothing from the forces of an unkind world that he struggles to turn from. El Scorcho – A pair of star crossed lovers try to seek common ground, with elements of ethnic misunderstandings, violated privacy, delusions, all set against a background of multiracial dating. Hash Pipe – Downtrodden stoners fight against a world always stomping them down. Keep Fishin’ – An unemployed and over-educated alcoholic fights to break out of a cycle of drink and moping over a failed relationship (perhaps with Muppets). Perfect Situation – An absurdist work with a decidedly Groundhog Day kind of vibe presents a male protagonist finding himself perfectly set up to obtain the heart of a young woman, yet always delivers a non sequitur that ruins everything.
Artist: Weird Al Yankovic
Genre: Parodies galore.
Comic possibilities: I don’t think any list of an admittedly geeky leaning line up of artists would be complete without Weird Al Yankovic, whose musical repertoire practically screams that a sanctioned visual interpretation would sell like pancakes. With his riffs on the works of Michael Jackson, Queen, and Lady Gaga to name only a few, his songs are multi-generational, broad and always able to speak to the times. Parody work is already a great technique employed by many comic artists to generate material, so wouldn’t the parody king of music himself be an amazing source for visual work?