More and More Rock Stars Are Turning Into Comic-Book Creators

Categories: Get Lit

The idea of rock stars being featured in comics is nothing new. One of the many, many urban legends about KISS is that they used their blood in the red ink of a run featuring the band as part of the Marvel Comics Super Special series that had also done books starring The Beatles. That legend is true, though what most people will fail to mention is that the comics aren't just bloody, they're bloody awful.

There's a reason for that. For most of the last half century whenever comic books and rock and roll came together it was in order to create a marketing or merchandising ploy, not to enhance either medium in any particularly critical way. KISS comics, whether they be the work of Todd MacFarlane, appearances in Archie or the most recent weird noir series by Chris Ryall are all examples of musical icons who are willing to allow their image thrown on anything in the name of a buck.

Even Todd Loren's infamous Rock 'N' Roll Comics, which made its money doing unauthorized (and proud of it!) musical biographies were little better than tabloid fodder, though I proudly own the Cure comics. In short, little good came of getting rock and comics in bed together no matter how much the two media had in common.

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The Umbrella Academy
Two legends changed all that, Alice Cooper and Neil Gaiman. Cooper's 1994 album The Last Temptation was a gamble, his first concept album since DaDa. He wanted to explore the story more fully, and recruited the writer of Sandman to flesh out the tale of a boy who becomes fascinated by a demonic showman. Both the album and the three-part comic story are absolutely brilliant, and while the writing is all Gaiman's except for lyrics used in the book, it's clear that Cooper laid down the bones of the story to great effect.

It would be more than a decade before something that good would come along again.

I'm no fan of My Chemical Romance, though that's probably just gothic snottiness over what most goths refer to as "Hot Topic emo bullshit." The weird thing is, that band was never really supposed to happen. Gerard Way grew up idolizing and drawing comics. He was even a guest on Sally Jesse Raphael at age 16 discussing the controversy of featuring serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer in comic books.

Way was on track to enter the comic industry, and had just about chosen the worst time to do it. Comics had collapsed in the wake of oversaturation and poor quality in the '90s. Then he watched the September 11 tragedy unfold and decided that staring at a computer screen in the basement working on breaking into comics was both futile and really depressing. That's how My Chemical Romance was started, as a backup gig to a comic nerd's big dream.

Story continues on the next page.

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As the creator of the Cure comic book, I got a kick out of you mentioning "Rock 'N' Roll Comics, which made its money doing unauthorized (and proud of it!) musical biographies were little better than tabloid fodder, though I proudly own the Cure comics..." Uh, thanks? That WAS one of our better issues - there's a Spin magazine interview with Robert Smith where he talks about having our Cure comic pages hanging all over the studio while they recorded their next album. Beats being sued by our subjects any day ----

MadMac topcommenter

Really, really fun stuff, Mr. F.

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