Shawn Demumbrum of SpazDog Comics likes comics. And he likes music. While the two are hardly exclusive, it's hard to think of someone more explicitly marrying the two. He's issued two graphic novel collections inspired by the music of Moz and The Smiths, and with Break the Walls, he's turning his attention, and the combined attention of creators like Brian Miller (whose Hi-Fi Colour Design has worked on Uncanny X-Men, Justice League of America, and more), Joshua Hale Fialkov, Ryan Cody, Michael Macropoulos, and more to the music of The Pixies.
Like he did with the Smiths projects, Demumbrum launched a Kickstarter to fund the book, and with a little help from the Pixies' manager, he reached his goal of $2,000 with five days to spare. With potential covers still up for grabs, we spoke with Demumbrum about the project and what rock 'n' roll acts just may wind up in SpazDog pages in the future.
Up on the Sun: Simply put, what is it about The Pixies that inspired this book? Shawn Demumbrum: I'm a big fan of what was called "alternative music," but was a little late to the game on some of the artists. I discovered a lot of bands through soundtracks, and The Pixies are no exception: I started listening to them after hearing "Wave of Mutilation" on the Pump Up the Volume soundtrack. The great thing about the Pixies is that their lyrics are so open to interpretation which makes it one of the best bands to make an "inspired by" comic. While I was in the middle of pitching the Smiths book to comic creators, I inevitably had people throwing bands ideas at me. "You should do a book on..." or "I don't like/hate the Smiths, but I would do a story for..." I would let them know that my focus was on the Smiths for now and that if the Smiths was successful, we would explore other bands.
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The Pixies came up a few times. Similar to the Smiths, I had a short list of people that I knew where fans who I would love to work with. I approached John Layman, creator of Chew, Daniel Davis of Steam Crow and Ryan Cody, contributor to the Eisner Award winning Pop Gun Anthology. Ultimately, John and Daniel had schedules that were too full at the time to contribute to the book, but we ended up with a tight list of talented creators who will do artistic justice to the Pixies songs.
How have submissions differed from the Smiths comic? The main difference is that while the first Smiths book was mostly working with a lot of local creators who I am fortunate enough to call peers and friends. When the word got out about the Smiths book, I started getting contacted by people from all over the world who wanted to contribute. I quickly developed some editorial standards for volume one of Unite and Take Over that have shaped all future books. I still try to include lots of local talent (and Arizona has lots of it), but now I have some options that include creators that are more widely known outside Arizona.
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What's your favorite Pixies song? The first Pixies album (do they call them albums anymore?) I bought was Doolittle. I'd say my favorite song is "Monkey Gone to Heaven." I think the album cover imagery, the seemingly randomness of the lyrics and the musical discord make it one of the best Pixies songs.
The obvious question is: do you plan to do more "inspired by the music of _______" books? Part of me says keep future plans close to the vest, because literally anyone could do this kind of book; part of me wants to get people excited for what I have in store. I'm horrible about keeping secrets, though. I awkwardly proposed to my wife six months earlier than anticipated while watching What's Eating Gilbert Grape? because I had bought the ring the weekend before and didn't want to keep it to myself. The main thing about these "inspired by" comics is getting the talent together to put together a 24-page comic at the minimum, but more preferably a graphic novel sized book. I have enough people together who want to do a book based upon Tom Waits. I really want to finish up the Smiths discography with two more volumes (a cover with each remaining former band member as a superhero). Beyond that I can only tell you my personal short list of contenders which are (in no particular order) Nine Inch Nails, REM, Nirvana, The Cure, Jimmy Eat World, The Gin Blossoms and The Refreshments.
Unite and Take Over: Stories Inspired by the Songs of the Smiths (volume one and two) are available through Amazon, your local comic book shops, Zia Records and Stinkweeds. Break the Walls: Tales Inspired by the Songs of the Pixies is available for "pre-order" through the official KickStarter campaign.