Thursday, February 17, 2011

Comic Shop Rockers

I am an unapologetic fan of comic books. Not "sequential art" or "graphic novels" or any of those other terms that folks use to try and sidestep the seemingly geeky nature of the pastime, mind you, but regular old comic books.

Oddly enough, I actually got into comics approximately the same time I got into music – at around age ten. The mid-1980s were a strange and wonderful time to be a fanboy on both fronts. It was an era of Watchmen and the Mutant Registration Act. A time that saw the death of The Clash and Black Flag as well as the birth of Geto Boys and The Dead Milkmen.

Stranger still was the odd intersection of both my passions, which also occurred nigh simultaneously. Metallica thanked (alongside The Young Ones and Absolut Vodka) a then virtually unknown Mirage Studios title called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the liner notes for their landmark 1986 release Master of Puppets while Anthrax unapologetically repped UK comic icon Judge Dredd in the single "I am the Law" from 1987's Among the Living.

I provide this brief little history lesson so that when I arrive at the topic at hand you have a bit of context. For you see the music/comic book connection didn't die with American thrash metal. Today geeky musicians are still embracing comics not simply as inspiration, but as yet another vehicle for their creativity.

An obvious mainstream example comes to us compliments of prog rockers Coheed and Cambria. Each of the band's concept albums ties directly to frontman Claudio Sanchez's epic sci-fi tale The Amory Wars, which is simultaneously being published by Evil Ink as an ongoing if admittedly loose print series.

But if you're looking for something a bit less convoluted expansive, there are subtler options.

Geek rockers Americans UK regularly release their own free digital comics via the Literate Machine community in both PDF and CBZ formats. (Holler at some ComicZeal regarding the latter, iPhone users, and you'll be glad you did.) Part sci-fi murder mystery part illustrated lyric sheet, each issue packs in ample action and snark due to the efforts of frontman Jef UK, who is also the writer behind Oni Press's Odd Schnozz and the Odd Squad.

More recently the mad scientists behind FuMP act The Consortium of Genius launched a similar product tied to their most recent release Music for Supervillains. Though the album itself does a solid job or relating the story concept through skits interspersed between each song, Music for Supervillains: The Comic really brings the story to life amid visual interpretations of key plot points, illustrated song lyrics and comic strip-style non sequiturs.

Still, my favorite (vaguely) music-related comics project in recent memory comes from Halifax hip-hop superhero SJ the Wordburglar. Burg's love of comic books is well documented in verse, as is his predilection for the action-heavy pastiche of classic G.I. Joe, and the Snakor's Pizza project leverages the two nicely. Written by Burg and skillfully lettered and illustrated by Kody Peters and Dave Howlett, it has a surreal and distinctly urban feel to it that I immediately equate with the great Jim Mahfood. Following the life of the deposed leader of a snake-inspired terrorist organization turned restaurant manager, it refuses to take itself too seriously. The creators themselves, however, are obviously firmly committed to producing a high quality product despite its laughable premise. You can check out the story up to this point in full color online for the very low price of free, and a limited black and white print run of issue #1 was made available to Nova Scotian geeks through Strange Adventures Comix & Curiosities.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 105: C'est L'amour

I typically try and drop a holiday-specific episode a few good days before the event itself, but when I realized I could potentially release my regular Valentine's show on Valentine's Day I figured I'd go for it.

Unlike previous years, where the theme has been love in a larger sense, this time around each one of the song titles contains the actual word "love" or some apparent derivation.

Clever concept or lazy song selection? You be the judge!

Download Radio Free Hipster Ep. 105: C'est L'amour [hosting provided by Antisoc] Size: 42.4 MB Running Time: 46:19

Show Notes:

Intro: Baddd Spellah – "Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)"
I love 'em both! 

Track 1: DJ Moule – "Good Love, Good Rock"
Led Zeppelin vs. Joan Jett vs. Does It Offend You, Yeah? vs. Peaches

Z's 1st interlude: "Perhaps even more literally than in years past."
I'll give iTunes one thing – it does make searching for song titles containing a certain word a breeze!

Track 2: The Remus Lupins – "Lovely Lily"
Not my favorite vocal delivery from Alex, but easily one of the band's best instrumental performances.

Track 3: the1shanti – "I *heart* Olivia Munn (ElekTro4 Remix)"
From Tru Statement Entertainment's F?@K LOVE.

Track 4: Q-Unit – "Old Fashioned Outta Control Lover"
Q-Unit's Greatest Hits was the first proper mash-up album I ever downloaded in its entirety.

Track 5: Super Bad dialog / OxygenStar – "I Used to Love Her"
Rather than my typical romance movie sound clips, this time around I went for more of a bromance thing.

Track 6: Sprites – "I Love You, You Retard"
From their phenomenal Modern Gameplay album.

Track 7: I Love You, Man dialog / Hellostereo – "Digital Love"
"Digital Love" may be the ultimate nerd love song.

Z's 2nd interlude: "And now we are gonna head right back into the music."
A listener recently told me that I keep my between-set commentary short and to the point. I'm actually pretty proud of that fact.

Track 8: Illbotz – "Give a Little Love"
Perm's Charlie Sheen line still cracks me up!

Track 9: Ookla the Mok – "Guggenheim Love"
And I followed that up with yet another great comedy track.

Track 10: Maroon 5 vs. Marvin Gaye – "This Healing Love"
This particular mash-up was shared with me by my good friend Glenn Case.

Track 11: Warp 11 – "Replicate My Love"
Warp 11 remains the most delightfully filthy act in Trek Rock.

Z's final interlude: "And that is some bullshit."
For those not familiar with the game, all of the background music for this episode comes from Animal Crossing. K.K. Slider FTW!

Track 12: HDninja – "No Love Song"
Since I mentioned how I felt HDninja was under-appreciated last ep, I decided to include them in this show as well.

These lovey-dovey editions are always greeted a certain amount of ambiguity depending on how each individual listener views the subject of romance and it's place in this particular holiday. That's why this time I went more with love as a lyrical device than as an inspirational concept.

Maybe it worked – maybe it didn't. I'm pretty pleased with how it came out, and I hope you dug it too.

But either way, consider it my Valentine's gift to you. You know, 'cause of my undying love and whatnot.