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Friday, November 12, 2010

Anthology Update: Tunes

Comics and music are both storytelling devices, and the rebellious bent of rock and roll appeals to many of the same people who enjoy the left-of-mainstream stylings of the sequential arts.  Music figures prominently in many comics, especially live music; you can find characters rocking out in the pages of favorites like Love and Rockets, Young Liars, Strangers In Paradise, and Scott Pilgrim.  The real challenge, though, lies in getting that energy across- how can you convey a sound with ink and paper?  How can you make a reader "hear" loud, beautiful music in a strictly visual medium?

In Tunes: A Comic Book History of Rock and Roll, a number of French cartoonists each tackle that challenge with a distinct vision, with a variety of fascinating results (don't worry, with the exception of the Led Zeppelin installment it's all in English).  Obion throws the Beatles a text-free inkwash parade; Morvandiau uses single wavering lines to describe each instrument's path in the Rolling Stones' "Love In Vain".  Mathieu Sapin gives a personal account of missing a historic White Stripes concert while Tanquerelle gives Iggy Pop the Alice in Wonderland treatment.  Some approaches are cute (Blondie), some are creepy (Radiohead), some are abstract (the Pixies), some are poignant (Elvis).  This anthology is worth a look for these wildly different solutions to the sound problem alone, but readers with limited Euro-comics experience will like the primer on the range of artistic and storytelling styles as well.  Edited by French journalist Vincent Brunner, it's out now in paperback from Universe Publishing!

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