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May 8, 2013

Book Notes - Sean Murphy "Punk Rock Jesus"

Punk Rock Jesus

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Sean Murphy's graphic novel Punk Rock Jesus vividly explores themes of religion, politics and modern culture with a unique premise: the nationwide chaos caused by a reality television show that features the clone of Jesus Christ.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"Murphy has constructed a compelling, searching, and important tale that embraces some of the biggest questions of our day, and he does so using incredibly energetic art with dynamic, elastic compositional approaches."

Stream a Spotify playlist of these tunes. If you don't have Spotify yet, sign up for the free service.

In his own words, here is Sean Murphy's Book Notes music playlist for his graphic novel, Punk Rock Jesus:

Issue 1: "We're From America" by Marilyn Manson

Manson does a fantastic job of describing what America cynically thinks of itself: it's brash, unapologetic, and happy to trample anyone if the price is right. At least that's how I imagine her. America is like the woman who first discovered sex, and never mind all the herpes scars around her thighs. And the world watches in horror as she loses herself in the donkey show.

Issue 2: "Tired Of This Shit" by The Bloody Hollies

While I'm a fan of punk, I would never go toe-to-toe with a hardcore punk fan, because I understand how "into it" people can be. It might be against the rules of punk, but I tend to discover new bands through Pandora rather than on vinyl (is it more punk that I use the free version?). One of the bands to pop up was The Bloodie Hollies, and this song certainly fit the bill for issue 2 of PRJ. It's a good soundtrack for Gwen starting to go off the rails.

Issue 3: "Nightcall" by Kavinsky

There's certainly a love story happening between Thomas and Gwen, although I'm not sure what kind it is. The characters never act on it, but there's the sense that in another life with different circumstances surrounding, they might have paired up. Issue 3 illustrates this the most when Gwen goes against Thomas by escaping the island with her son, and for the scene in the rain I imagine "Nightcall" playing. It's a strange love song, robotic and hypnotic. It's unconventionality worked well to motivate the artwork for the scene--I had it playing on loop for hours, I think.

Issue 4: "Nothing" by Groovie Ghoulies

Another band to pop up on Pandora was the Groovie Ghoulies, and there song "Nothing" fits the Jesus clone's rampage very well: it sums up all the broken promised a teenager can discover while coming of age.

Issue 5: "Suspect Device" by Stiff Little Fingers

There's not much literal punk rock in the first half of the story (there's punk rock via the sentiment of anti-establishment at best), although I had a few scenes that describes Thomas (the bodyguard to the clone) as an ex punk rock fan. One of the biggest punk bands to come out of Northern Ireland during The Troubles was Stiff Little Fingers. I read a story once how N. Irish police blew up an SLF sample tape because they thought it was a bomb (the band stupidly labeled it "Tape Bomb" or something like that). It made sense that Thomas would be an SLF fan, so I threw it all into the plot. "Suspect Device" is my favorite song of theirs.

Issue 6: "Electric Head, pt. 1" by White Zombie

It's not punk rock, but it's one of my favorite industrial metal songs by one of my favorite bands on their best record. I can't understand the lyrics, but it always gets me pumped up. And for the amount of adrenaline flowing through issue 6, I think it makes a great companion.

Sean Murphy and Punk Rock Jesus links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry
excerpt from the book

The Advocate review
Boing Boing review
Comics Alliance review
The Spectrum review

Crave interview with the author
Newsarama interview with the author
The Outhouse interview with the author
Punknews interview with the author
USA Today profile of the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
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Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
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musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists

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