Musical Comics

Comics creator Chris Ware has spoken over the years about approaching comics the way one might approach music.  I gave myself a more literal challenge: to make a comic out of a piece of music.  It was October, and I chose a song made famous by Johnny Cash called “Long Black Veil”.  As I listened to it over and over, two concepts came to mind: Edward Gorey’s work and those little books-on-record from my childhood.  A narrator reads the story aloud while you read along with a physical book filled with words and pictures.  At the end of every page the narrator interrupts herself and speaks to you directly, “Now turn the page”.  It was interactive and haunting.
I sent out the Long Black Veil comic with a black-themed CD compilation to some friends for Halloween.  I gave instructions: Listen to the song while reading the comic. The project was a hit.  In November I decided that color would be another thematic layer. The songs I selected are already stories. Songwriters are storytellers. The challenge is re-interpreting the stories using only image.The constraint of using a specific lyric and melody and color-theme is very freeing.  Comic Book Tattoo, an award-winning anthology of comics inspired by Tori Amos songs, is a perfect example of how artistic interpretation is infinite. To enjoy these musical comics, click on one: included are links to the songs that inspired each comic.
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