While we wait to see if a new biopic about outsider singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston will ever come to light, the eccentric artist has tapped into his love of comics to give us something to devour in the meantime. The Beat recently shared that Johnston’s first graphic novel, Space Ducks: An Infinite Comic Book of Musical Greatness , will be launching at Austin’s South by Southwest festival next month — featuring a companion soundtrack and drawings by Daniel. There’s also an app that takes readers inside his world of ducks and devils, features games, surprise voice appearances, animations from the comic book, links to buy merch, Easter eggs, and contributions from Johnston’s critically-acclaimed musician pals. “The app will also debut Daniel Johnston’s first new album since 2009.”
Before you get too antsy for Space Ducks — which ships this summer — check out other musicians who dabble in the graphic novel universe. Many, like Johnston, have released albums to coincide with their 2D works, and others are content to simply play author. Let us know if there’s anyone you enjoy that we didn’t include.
Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s One Model Nation
We recently shared a few of Dandy Warhols’ frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s favorite graphic novels in celebration of the musician’s release of his own book, One Model Nation. The historical fiction tale about a Kraftwerk-inspired band in Berlin during the 1970s involves a mysterious Baader-Meinhof Group-type plot that finds the group accused of the guerrilla attacks happening around the city. Taylor-Taylor also released the album Totalwerks , which will make you want to drag out your Man-Machine LP for the full El Lissitzky effect.
Amanda Palmer, Jason Webley, and Cynthia von Buhler’s Evelyn Evelyn: A Terrible Tale In Two Tomes
Evelyn Evelyn finds its name from Dresden Dolls singer Amanda Palmer and experimental folk artist Jason Webley’s side project of the same name. For their performances, the duo dress as conjoined twins (in shared outfits, even). The graphic novel provides insight into the girls’ calamitous lives — including ” … the bizarre and bloody night of their birth and subsequent orphaning; their early years on a chicken farm; shocking encounters with depraved gentlemen; life in the circus; the terrible fates of their dearest friends; and concluding with the sisters” rise to international fame via the Internet.” Artist and performer Cynthia von Buhler illustrated the cabaret-style tale and contributed her designs to the accompanying music release.
Zak Sally’s Recidivist
Former bassist for Low and Enemymine Zak Sally has been creating comics most of his life. His press La Mano 21 releases some incredibly inspired works (John Porcellino, Nate Denver, and more) that indie comic fans will appreciate. Sally’s own works include the Recidivist series (big shout out for Sammy the Mouse, though), which focuses on ” … six intersecting stories about loss, secrets, eating things that should not be eaten, car keys, sadness, pills, love, and people whose heads turn into monkeys.” The double Eisner Comic Award nominee also teaches comic art at Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
Tom Morello’s Orchid
Tom Morello’s (Audioslave, The Nightwatchman, Rage Against the Machine) heroine Orchid is a teenage prostitute trying to come to grips with her new role in a post-apocalyptic society. Morello’s stories find her confronting slave traders and other mysterious forces, while coping with her own emotional turmoil — kind of like the fight-the-powers-that-be stuff that Morello’s music has focused on. Orchid gets a volume one release this July.
David Lynch’s The Angriest Dog in the World
Before his days as a transcendental meditation guru, filmmaker and Crazy Clown Time musician David Lynch started a comic strip in the ’70s when he was having problems coping with his emotions. His creative therapy eventually became The Angriest Dog in the World and ran as a strip in the L.A. Reader until the early ’90s. The comic always began: “The dog who is so angry he cannot move. He cannot eat. He cannot sleep. He can just barely growl. Bound so tightly with tension and anger, he approaches the state of rigor mortis.” What followed were the same four pictures, but Lynch would change the conversation balloons each time. You can take a peek at several of the strips over here.
Gene Simmons’ House of Horrors
The glam metal gods of KISS have found themselves the subject of comic books since their inception in the ’70s. Marvel was behind the superhero-inspired story of the band, which was even printed using the band members’ blood. Clearly Gene Simmons takes his comics seriously. He recently partnered with IDW Publishing to create his own comics outfit, the Simmons Comic Group. The first issue from the new press even featured a cover from Spawn creator Todd McFarlane.
Archer Prewitt’s Sof’Boy
The Sea and Cake’s Archer Prewitt has been balancing his music and comic book work for ages. His Pillsbury Doughboy-like comic creation, Sof’Boy, truly has his heart. “I guess I’m like Sof’Boy. I think that’s half the reason I have to create Sof’Boy, to process brutal actions,” Prewitt shared in an interview. Sof’Boy began in the ’90s and won an Eisner Award nomination. The ghostly antihero has crossed paths with everyone from a prostitute to a cannibal. Prewitt has also worked as a colorist for various publications and has contributed his talents to journals like McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern.
Glenn Danzig’s Satanika
When Glenn Danzig isn’t busy being Glenn Danzig, the former Misfits member is running his porny adult-horror comic outfit, Verotik. The issues look exactly like you’re imagining: hulking breasts, devilry galore, etc. His Satanika is described as the “nastiest bitch on hooves.” Need we say more?
Gerard Way’s The Umbrella Academy
Gerard Way’s Eisner Award-winning comic book The Umbrella Academy is currently being developed into a feature film by Universal. The My Chemical Romance frontman’s tale centers on an adopted dysfunctional family of superheroes who are reunited after the death of their father and mentor — who is really an alien disguised as a wealthy entrepreneur. Angsty absurdidty abounds. Way has said the stories and his music are closely interconnected.
Jane Wiedlin’s Lady Robotika
In case you can’t tell by now, the musician-turned-comic book creator world is kind of a sausagefest. Thank goodness for Go-Go’s girl Jane Wiedlin and her Lady Robotika — which she co-created with partner and friend Bill Morrison (The Simpsons, Futurama). After aliens abduct a woman, she’s turned into a badass cyborg superheroine. The cosmic fantasy girl looks just like Jane, too.