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December 20, 2013

Book Notes - Jamie S. Rich and Natalie Nourigat "A Boy and a Girl"

A Boy and a Girl

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.

A Boy and a Girl is a thought provoking madcap romp through the future, a graphic novel for all ages.

Comic Book Resources wrote of the book:

"Rich and Nourigat's 'A Boy and a Girl' proves, in the end, to be more than the sum of its parts. Not content to be just another love story, it offers up thought provoking ideas on the human (and inhuman) condition with a lightness that makes it easy to digest."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In their own words, here is Jamie S. Rich and Natalie Nourigat's Book Notes music playlist for their graphic novel, A Boy and a Girl:

Jamie S. Rich: A Boy and a Girl began as a true collaboration, with Natalie Nourigat and I trading ideas back and forth and building on each element of the comic until I had enough to write a full script. What emerged was something we’ve been calling a "futuristic romance." In the near future, two people meet and only have one night to connect. What kind of trouble can they get up to in a world where robots and flying cars and nightclubs on top of skyscrapers are the norm?

Thus, it seems fitting that we should also trade songs back and forth for this playlist.

"A Boy and a Girl" - The Trash Can Sinatras

JSR: This actually got the ball rolling for me, though in the wrong direction for a while. Its "spooktime" refrain had me thinking about ghost stories and trying to make something about love in the afterlife. Eventually, that stuff faded away, but the song stuck. I actually opened our pitch to Oni Press with lines from the song: "let’s make a pair / a boy and a girl / born in a fog / born under a cloud." It was basically the mission statement.

"Oh, Maker" - Janelle Monáe

Natalie Nourigat: When the world and story gelled it was time for me to produce concept sketches and character designs. I wanted my work soundtrack to fit the aesthetic we were going for. Listening to Janelle Monáe got me right into the groove and made it easy for me to picture Charley, Travis, and the exciting world they inhabit in A Boy and a Girl. At that time I only had The ArchAndroid, so that’s the majority of what I was listening to for the year I was drawing this book! I find the track "Oh, Maker" very romantic, and it touches on many of the themes in the story.

JSR: Lots of Janelle got spun around my house, too, when putting this together. Her first EP, Metropolis, was probably my only ever iTunes impulse buy. I didn’t know who she was, but the cover intrigued me. "Violent Stars Happy Hunting" was definitely a favorite that would fit A Boy and a Girl in a weird way, too.

"Bobblehead" - Christina Aguilera
"I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" - Sugababes

JSR: The Bionic album by Christina Aguilera was in heavy rotation for me when I was writing. Like The ArchAndroid, the idea behind the record and the aesthetics of the album design actually fit the futuristic setting in the book, and the lyrical content in a lot of the songs played into Charley’s self-discovery as a young woman. When it came to naming the dance club in the comic, I called it Bobble after Christina’s "Bobblehead," partially because fit the bubble-like building structure I was asking Natalie to design.

But I also picked it because I thought it made sense as the kind of music the patrons might be listening to. Same with Sugababes covering the Arctic Monkeys. I borrowed the title and slightly altered it to "I Bet She Looks Good on the Dancefloor" for the name of the main chapter where they are in Bobble and Travis is looking for Charley there.

NN: Jamie actually recommended I listen to the track "Bobblehead" while I was having trouble designing the club, and it worked like a charm. Sometimes the right soundtrack can unlock you artistically like that. Sharing songs with my writer as we each created helped the script and artwork sync up. We could each come at it from the same place.

"I’m Not Your Toy" – La Roux

NN: This is absolutely the single track I listened to (and music video I watched!) the most while drawing A Boy and a Girl. I love it as a pairing for Charley’s thoughts in the first half of the book. Why would this Travis guy track her down the day after a little make-out sess’? What’s his game? She’s not about to be some college boy’s plaything and she seriously doubts he understands her well enough to be pursuing her for any reason deeper than that. But like the book, the song has an irresistibly fun and upbeat tone, and warms up to a "what the hell" dance number that has everyone grinning and shaking it.

"Closer" - Travis

JSR: A bit more of a mellow mood, but chosen for when things calm down later in the book and the characters get closer both literally and metaphorically. As their connections deepen, philosophically they are also getting nearer to some kind of understanding. The ideas they are discussing, the greater issues they are grappling with come more into focus. I also just love this song for how gentle Fran Healy’s vocal delivery is. He’s offering a shoulder to cry on, but he just sounds so fragile and vulnerable himself.

The fact that the band shares a name with our boy is just coincidence.

"Rainy Day Thoughts" – Bobby Sherman

NN: This song is a great reminder to seize the day and not forget what you’re living for. Life is short! If something is important to you, you have to give it all you’ve got (now!). Charley and Travis are young -- they have a lot of passion and potential – but being so focused has actually made them a little blind to the bigger picture. Meeting one another is a fortuitous shock that brings them both into the present and begins an unforgettable adventure.
JSR: I hadn’t heard that before. I like it! I’m a sucker for that kind of schmaltzy crooner. As if you didn’t know, Natalie, from hearing my karaoke choices.

"Two Hearts in 3/4 Time" - The Avalanches
"Crying at Airports" - Whale

JSR: A double choice for the end of the book. The Avalanches track was actually on rotation while writing. It has such an odd tone to it. There’s a feeling of unfettered bliss, but also a transitional lilt to the music, a back-and-forth befitting the confusion our lovers feel as their story draws to a close.

I can’t say I’d heard the Whale track in years until recently, so it’s a bit of a cheat in that I didn’t listen to it during production. But in September when we were putting A Boy and a Girl to bed, I still had two unnamed chapters set in a Russian dance club and I needed to come up with something. The title of the second Whale album, All Disco Dance Must End in Broken Bones, popped into my head and just fit perfectly. As a result, I revisited that record, and realized "Crying at Airports" would have been a good tune for them to dance to while amongst the Russkies, and it would also have been a bit of foreshadowing to where they were headed.


Jamie S. Rich, Natalie Nourigat, and A Boy and a Girl links:

the author's website
the illustrator's website
excerpt from the book

Comic Book Resources review
Panel Patter review
Portland Mercury review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Have You Seen the Horizon Lately?
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for The Everlasting
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

Online "Best of 2013" Book Lists
2013 Year-End Online Music Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
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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