The Ten Best Musician/Comic Artist Friendships
8. Warren Ellis and Warren Ellis
In the late '90s, a certain strain of fan that devoured comics and music began to wonder how Warren Ellis, the violin player for mournful instrumental trio the Dirty Three, could also find time to Marvel comics titles like Excalibur and Doom 2009. As time went on, it became clear that there were two separate, very talented men named Warren Ellis. Today, Ellis the musician is Nick Cave's right-hand man; his searing, heavily distorted violin leads bring a noise-punk way feel to Cave's Grinderman outfit and a noirish ambiance to the Bad Seeds, and the pair have also written acclaimed scores for films such as The Proposition, The Road and The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford. (It should also be noted that White Lunar, 2009's collection of their scores, makes for good Sunday-afternoon whiskey music.) Regularly combining totally-out-there nutball science theories with inventive violence and hilarious profane dialogue (among other achievements, he introduced the term "Godzilla Bukkake Night" into the modern lexicon), Ellis the scribe has become one of the most acclaimed comic writers in the genre with celebrated series like Transmetropolitan and Planetary redrawing the medium's boundaries, and his book RED was recently adapted into a film that featured Helen Mirren shooting people with a machine gun. Though Ellis the writer still gets regularly confused for Ellis the musician on Twitter, the Warrens are mutual fans with a sense of humor about the whole thing. Though based on this interview, Cave is getting sick of the confusion.
9. Jeff Lemire and Eddie Argos
When Art Brut debuted with their single "Formed A Band," many people were quick to assume that frontman Eddie Argos was the snidest ironist in the land. But time and songs like "DC Comics And Chocolate Milkshakes" has revealed that Argos is one of the most sincere and likeably dorky indie-rock characters around. He's so open about his love for comic books, that he once told me that fans bring him issues featuring his favorite character, time-traveling Justice League Of America member Booster Gold, to sign after concerts.
It was also his love of comics, that led him to finding a future collaborator and friend, artist Jeff Lemire. "I sometimes review comics for a website called Playbackstl.com," Argos says. "They pay me in free comics, which is ace for me. They sent me Jeff's book Essex County. I wrote a review saying that it should be on the national curriculum and he got in touch with me," he recalls. "A lot of the pleasure I get from comics is from reading the adventures of Time Travelers, Crime Fighters, Superheroes, that kind of thing. So left to my own devices I probably wouldn't have picked up any of Jeff's Essex County trilogy, which is about people in a small town in Ontario. Luckily it was sent to me, as it is now one of my all-time favorite books.
"When people write about Jeff they often write that he writes about small-town life really well. I personally think Jeff just writes people incredibly well and just chooses to set his stories in small towns. We asked Jeff to do the art work for Art Brut VS Satan because the rest of Art Brut had seen me reading his comics and thought they looked so great. They really are beautiful books. I was over the moon when he said yes."
The back cover of Alison Bechdel's Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
10. Alison Bechdel and John Bechdel
Cartoonist Alison Bechdel's long-running Dykes to Watch Out For comic series gave the world the Bechdel Test 25 years ago. Her acclaimed graphic novel memoir Fun Home dealt with her coming to terms with her sexuality and her relationship with her overbearing father. (It's actually much more complicated, but you really need to check it out for yourself.) She's a hero to a generation of riot grrrls and queer artists, but her closest relationship with a musician is a world away from the likes of Bikini Kill. Her brother John Bechdel, who she writes about and thanks in Home, could best be described as a journeyman industrial musician that has played keyboards for Prong, Killing Joke, Fear Factory and many others. He might not be as well-known as his sister, but he played on the Grammy nominated ("Best Metal Performance") Ministry song "Señor Peligro"--and getting to play "Stigmata" and "Burning Inside" every night in Ministry is unassailably awesome.