April 21, 2010
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Peter Bagge is one of my favorite cartoonists, I have admired his Hate comics for years and adored his wonderfully dark Apocalypse Nerd. His new graphic novel, Other Lives, explores the theme of identity through the book's four characters. Bagge's dysfunctional characters are the perfect foil for the cutting humor and social commentary in the often bizarre Other Lives.
Comic Book Bin wrote of the book:
"Readers familiar with Bagge's work will recognize both the tone and plot of Other Lives as being familiar, which is not a bad thing. What Bagge does, he does quite well. His ability to cast the imperfections, the trials and tribulations, as well as the joys of a human life into a comic book drama is inimitable. Bagge doesn't mock these hapless players; instead of depicting them as losers – the easy thing to do – he finds the beauty in the awkward lives, while still managing to satire modern life."
Coming up with soundtrack ideas for Other Lives is a tough one, since only one of the characters comes close to reflecting me and my tastes and world view in any way shape or form. That character goes by the name of Vader Ryderbeck, only unlike me he's got this retro-rockabilly hipster look and attitude going on. You know the type. So the music he listens to to match his pose (and it IS good music) would be the likes of the Louvin Brothers, Johnny Cash (of course), The Collins Kids, etc. His girlfriend Ivy is also along for this retro-hay wagon joy ride, and she'd probably insist on some Patsy Cline as well, since she's a girl and all.
As for the other main characters: well, there's Woodrow Wooley, a rather square goofball who slowly loses his mind. He seems like the type who never outgrows the music the loved during his high school years, which in his case would most likely be along the lines of Hootie and the Blowfish, or Huey Lewis and the News. It also would be fitting of him to STILL listen to these bands even AFTER he loses his mind (maybe they're WHY he lost his mind?). Oh, and since he has a gambling problem, Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler" might be apropos -- as well as ironic, since he obviously never takes that song's advice.
Finally there's a character named Javy Ortiz, who's out if his mind from the get-go (am I giving too much away here?). His fantasist tendencies and flare for the dramatic would make him drawn to movie and TV theme music (both of which he surely watched way too much of growing up): James Bond, Ennio Marricone, John Freakin' Williams even. Maybe some bogus Bernard Herrmann Psycho-type music to drive home the Crazy, assuming it wouldn't be obvious enough already.
Other than that, you'd have the usual time-touchstone music you usually hear during Flashbacks: some Blondie here, some Spice Girls there, etc etc. And that's it! A surefire formula for a top selling soundtrack CD!
Peter Bagge and Other Lives links:
Comic Book Bin review
Comics Alliance review
The Comics Journal review
Joshua Malbin review
Laughing Ogre Comics review
Living Between Wednesdays review
Newcity Lit review
Portland Mercury review
Publishers Weekly review
The Shelf Life review
also at Largehearted Boy:
other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly highlights of comics & graphic novels)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly highlights of new books)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from this week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists