Some artists are so talented that they get to excel not just in one field – but in two! Others get to excel in one field and be mediocre in another. Not these creative souls, though, as they’re brilliant musicians who have also penned cracking comic books. Some, such as Coldplay, use the medium to tie in with albums, while the likes of Claudio Sanchez, frontman of prog-rock band Coheed and Cambria, are aspiring comic book writers who’ve used their platform to live out their dreams.
Now that My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way’s comic series The Umbrella Academy is to become a Netflix show, we rounded up our favourite musician-turned-artists who have been creative the colourful world of comic books.
Former My Chemical Romance man Gerard Way published the first series of his comic book The Umbrella Academy in 2007. Illustrated by Gabriel Ba, it focuses on a dysfunctional team of superheroes who unite together to save the world. The saga is still going strong, with the 10-part Netflix adaptation coming to a laptop screen near you in 2018. Way has said: “Gabriel and I can’t wait to dive in and help make this a very memorable series with the team that is forming right now!”
Orchid, a 12-issue series for Dark Horse Comics written by Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morell, was published in 2011. It’s a dark affair, telling the story of a teenager battling for survival in a post-apocalyptic landscape.
Misfits frontman Glenn Danzig is not a man renowned for his restraint and his line of comic books, Verotik, is typically no-holds–barred. The title is a mash-up of the words “violent” and “erotic”, which should clue you in to the comic books’, erm, graphic content. One was even made into a porn movie – hands up who’s seen Grub Girl? Come on, hands where can see them.
Some would say that Gene Simmons has long looked like a cartoon character anyway. In 2008, though, he published his horror anthology House Of Horrors, a collection of stories drawing upon creepy sci-fi and fantasy. Authors included Leah Moore, the daughter of comic book legend Alan Moore, who wrote classic tomes Watchmen and V For Vendetta, among others.
Rob Zombie has tried his hand at music, filmmaking and lots more, so it’s little surprise he’s ventured into comic books, too. Whatever Happened To Baron Von Shock? is a critique of fame and its perils, tracking the tale of a TV host who becomes a celebrity before it all unravels into disaster and disarray.
6One Model Nation
One Model Nation, the comic book created by Dandy Warhols man Courtney Taylor-Taylor with some help from Jim Rugg, was released in 2009. It’s the story of a fictional Krautrock band trying to make it big in the 1970s. For maximum authenticity, Taylor-Taylor released a greatest hits album by One Model Nation in 2012.
7Perfect Pussy and Joanna Gruesome
A joint enterprise from alternative heroes Perfect Pussy and Joanna Gruesome, Astonishing Adventures was released to accompany a split 7″.
8Twelve Reasons To Die
Twelve Reasons To Die, the 10th album by Ghostface Killah, originally started life as a comic book. In the story, Tony Starks is killed, his remains are melted down into vinyl and then pressed into 12 records – but when they’re played, he’s resurrected as Ghostface Killah. That’s some premise, eh?
The Dresden Dolls singer teamed up with the artist and musician Jason Webley to create Evelyn Evelyn, a musical theatre performance piece that sees the duo dress up as cabaret-singing conjoined twins called Evelyn. They roped in the artist Cynthia von Buhler for to tell the backstory behind the character via an eponymously titled comic book. It’s the kind of untrammelled creativity fans have come to expect from Palmer.
Pixies frontman Black Francis turns his dark imagination to the graphic novel in The Good Inn. Co-created with Josh Frank and illustrated by Steven Appleby, it’s dark and surreal as a young former soldier embarks on a series of weird, warped adventures.
Jeffrey Lewis has been putting out comic books for yonks: the US singer-songwriter has his own ongoing series, Fuff, and also created the comic book press kit for the Mountain Goats’ 2008 album ‘Heretic Pride’.
He’s a filmmaker first and musician second, sure, and then probably a coffee connoisseur third. Anyway, David Lynch indulged his fourth passion, comics, with a strip that he penned from 1983 to 1992. The Angriest Dog In The World, it depicted a crazed canine tied to a post on a back garden and carried the caption: “The dog who is so angry he cannot move. He cannot eat. He cannot sleep. He can just barely growl. Bound so tightly with tension and anger, he approaches the state of rigor mortis.” Every strip was the same, with only one line of dialogue added each time. Someone let that fella stretch his legs and fetch him a can of Pedigree Chum.
Dynamite is the brainchild of Alice Cooper. Roping in X Files writer Joe Harris to help out with the story, Cooper himself is (ego-trip alert) turned into a guardian angel for humanity. “There is so much you can do in the form of a comic that we’d never been able to do onstage,” said Cooper.
Princess Ai charts the adventures of Ai, an amnesiac alien who wakes up in Tokyo and attempts to unravel her past. Courtney wrote the book with the artist Stuart Levy and, of course, it draws on the musician’s own life. To be fair, Courtney’s life has been wilder than anything that most writers could dream up.
Created by Coldplay to tie in with their album of the same title, Mylo Xyloto is the tale of a secret policeman turned rebel in the shady world of Silencia. Published by the splendidly named Bongo Comics, it was co-created by filmmaker Mark Osborne.
Los Campesinos have a quarterly fanzine, Heat Rash. Frontman Gareth is such a comic book fan, meanwhile, that he was asked to be a judge at last year’s British Comic Awards. “It’s a very surreal honour,” he said.
Big-haired prog-rocker Claudio Sanchez, frontman of Nyack, New York band Coheed and Cambria penned a series of comic books called Armory Wars. This complex sci-fi saga ran for 20 years, but Sanchez put the project on hiatus last year to focus his energies on music and his family – he and his wife, the writer Chondra Echert, now have a child. “My wife and I,” he told Rolling Stone, “we also write comic books together, we collaborate on art, but there we were, on the top of world, about to collaborate on life.”