Some of music’s larger-than-life ideas, concepts, and characters can’t be contained in just one medium; they demand a visual form as well. Where better than on the pages of comics?
Some music genres seem to be more predisposed to the comic crossover than others. Heavy metal and comics share plenty in common – from over-the-top characters in extreme make-up, hairdos and costumes, subject matter that’s often dark and supernatural, to at times cartoonish violence. According to Jeff Treppel writing for Noisey, metal and comics have been intertwined since metal first came onto the music scene in the 70s. A glance over the artwork of many iconic heavy metal albums will almost immediately betray a comic book influence. Several metal bands have songs and albums that have borrowed storylines, characters and themes from comics, such as Anthrax’s “I Am The Law”, based on 2000 A.D.’s Judge Dredd, and Megadeth’s “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due“- partially based on The Punisher. Emo-pop bands of the early ’00s seemed follow suit, with bands like My Chemical Romance and Panic! At The Disco employing exaggerated, cartoonish image, exploring darker themes and lyrical content, with the former even releasing a concept album/comic book crossover.
Here we’ve rounded up some classic examples of the music and comic worlds colliding with bands in comics. Let us know what we’ve missed!
8 Bands Who Have Their Own Comic Books:
Marketing machine, Kiss made their comic book debut in Marvel’s Howard The Duck #12. Following their Howard The Duck debut in 1977, Marvel Comics published a magazine format full color comic book, ‘A Marvel Comics Super Special!: Kiss’, with the band presented as superheroes. Blood from each band member was drawn by a registered nurse, witness notary public, and poured into the vats of red ink used for printing the comic at Marvel’s Borden Ink plant in Depew, New York. Besides Marvel Comics, they’ve also appeared in licensed comics published by Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Platinum Studios, Archie Comics and IDW Publishing. Strangely, they’re not a huge fan of the format themselves, with Gene Simmons stating that all bands members “hate comic books” except for himself.
2. Alice Cooper
While Cooper made his first comic book appearance in 1979, he returned to the format with a mini-series to promote his 1994 album, ‘The Last Temptation’. The 3-part comic series was penned by none other than Neil Gaiman, with Michael Zulli on illustrating duties. The plot follows Steven – a character of Cooper’s creation who appears on several of his albums – a seven-year old boy who’s afraid of pretty much everything. Steven meets the Showman, who persuades him to join his travelling show where he learns what it really means to be afraid.
3. Iron Maiden
The band’s mascot, Eddie became the star of a five-part comic series, Legacy of the Beast, published by Heavy Metal Magazine released over several months between October 2017 and February 2018. The comic book series expands on the video game narrative. A weakened Eddie’s whose soul has been shattered and strewn across the cosmos by disruptive dark forces, must take on the twisted legions of The Beast, while trying to recover lost fragments of his dismembered soul. With each victory, he recovers his powers in time to face the Unholy foe and dismantle his plot to destroy all of Creation.
Dark Horse Comics released a three-part comic series based on the band’s music videos for their track ‘Repentless‘ at the start of 2017. The storyline of the music video is expanded in the comic to delve deep into the darkest heart of America to tell a tale of the doomed, damned and repentless. As Slayer vocalist and bassist, Tom Araya describes the comic, “We’re telling the story that we’ve always told about society and how humans treat each other.”
5. Stone Sour
That tireless Slipknot dude’s other band put out a comic book series through Dark Horse Comics to accompany their double concept album ‘House of Gold & Bones‘. The four issue mini series is created by Corey Taylor and is just one part of the ‘transmedia narrative’ which collectively unravels the original concept.
GWAR made their comic book debut with ‘Orgasmageddon’, which is probably pretty close to whatever you’re thinking it is. Co-written by the members of GWAR along with Matt Miner as a love letter to comics, grindhouse movies and heavy metal, they describe the plot as the band trampling through time like a deranged Bill and Ted on bath salts.
Glenn Danzig‘s company, Verotik comics (a portmanteau of ‘violence’ and ‘erotic’) publishes adult-themed horror comics was founded in 1994. Glenn Danzig has been an avid comic book collector since childhood and harboured ambitions of himself becoming a comic book artist and writer. To date, Verotik boasts just under 20 titles.
Set in a corrupt future, the album tells the story of a world run by evil corporation, Better Living Industries, and the actions of group of rebel heroes, the Killjoys, hellbent against the tyranny of their society. The epic tale turned out to be more than an album and comic could handle, and in 2013 the story was turned into a six issue mini-series, ‘The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys‘ by singer Gerard Way and collaborators, Shaun Simon and Becky Cloonan.