Comic book fans who also happen to be music lovers have many reasons to rejoice. There are many comic books that not only have intense visuals and fascinating storylines. They also focus on music’s invaluable contribution to the world. So, if you are looking for a fantastic read on a lazy Sunday afternoon, here are the seven best music-themed comics to read, according to a music expert.
1. Black Canary
DC Comics’ Dinah Drake character is a butt-kicking heroine with a vocal prowess to match the X-Men’s Banshee. Her daughter, Dinah Lance, inherited Drake’s canary cry superpowers, allowing her to continue her mom’s crime-fighting adventures.
Why wouldn’t this comic book appeal to music lovers when the heroine’s superpowers are her voice? One can imagine a stadium crumbling down with one shriek of the Canary. However, Black Canary prefers her dizzying martial arts skill set to defeat the bad guys.
This comic book has a punchy story, littered with fascinating graphics from Annie Wu. It follows the young Dinah’s exploits as a punk band member, creating frenetic concert scenes where the music seems to leap off every page. When it does, it never fails to smack readers on the face.
2. The Fifth Beatle
Anyone who knows his music knows the Beatles. After all, rock and roll and pop music would not have evolved into what it is today if not for one of the world’s most famous rock bands. Unfortunately, many Beatle fans do not know that there is a fifth member, working behind the scenes and ensuring that the boys of Liverpool reach international stardom the soonest.
The Fifth Beatle is a graphic novel illustrating Brian Epstein’s exploits as the Beatles’ visionary manager. Not only is the comic book inspirational and uplifting. It is also an eye-opener to those who think lowly of managers.
The vibrant images depict Epstein in highly emotional moments, tackling profit-greedy producers with the tenacity of an English Bulldog. The Fifth Beatle may be a non-fiction comic book, but it sure captivates the heart of the music-loving world, Beatle fan or not.
3. Reckless Life
Fans of Axl Rose, Slash, Izzy, Duff, and Steven will love Reckless Life. This comic book is Jim McCarthy’s graphic novel tribute to the legendary American rock band, Guns ‘N Roses. It presents the group’s rollercoaster ride in an exciting fashion that can only come from McCarthy’s magician-like word mastery.
Marc Olivent’s artwork is no Jack Kirby, but it can convey a sense of realism to the images, taking readers for a ride. Not everything is rosy with the GNR’s journey. This comic book does not only focus on the band’s achievements but also their darkest secrets.
There is the Axl Rose-Kurt Cobain feud that further blurred the lines between rebellious, aggressive rock music and progressive metal. You’ve got to give credit to McCarthy for weaving Slash’s departure and the band’s groupies and drugs in GNR’s iconic music in a novel so graphic it sings right out of the pages.
The team of Kieron Gillen, Matt Wilson, and Jamie McKelvie is perfect for creating one of the best music-themed comic books on the planet. Whenever someone thinks of comics and music, Phonogram almost always tops the list.
Phonogram is a three-volume comic book series that starts with Rue Brittania, towing the Singles Club, and culminating in Immaterial Girl. Readers get to follow the adventures of the Phonomancers, Phonogram’s equivalent to the wizards of Gryffindor or Slytherin, relying on their musical powers to defeat evil.
Comic books fans can appreciate the graphics, although it is Wilson and McKelvie’s deft application of music elements into the storyline that makes Phonogram a fascinating read.
5. Jim Henson’s A Tale of Sand
From the creator of Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and the rest of the Muppets comes A Tale of Sand. This graphic novel is one of Jim Henson’s most creative works outside the Muppet world. Jim never got to produce the story for the silver screen with his favorite amphibian taking the lead.
All is not in vain, however. This comic book bagged the Eisner Award for graphic novel adaptation. The storyline follows Mac and his adventures across the American Southwest, trying to navigate through a frenzied swing party.
Stand-up bass tones and drowning trumpets carry readers across the pages, giving them a surreal vibe of an easy-going town party.
6. Hip Hop Family Tree
The title says it all. Hip Hop Family Tree is a graphic story of one of the world’s cultural juggernauts. Ed Piskor whips up his legendary skills in bringing to the pages some of the defining moments of hip-hop music.
Known for his artistry in the X-Men fold, Piskor mesmerizes hip-hop fans and comic book enthusiasts alike. Every page is a vivid illustration of the music genre’s early pioneers, including their behind-the-scenes exploits.
Hip Hop Family Tree is perfect for anyone who wants more graphic and well-researched storytelling of a genre that took the world by storm.
7. Jem and the Holograms
Fans may know her for her work on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Wet Moon. However, true-blue followers of Sophie Campbell acknowledge the artist’s impeccable skills in bringing music to the pages of Jem and the Holograms.
This comic book follows the adventures of the Holograms as they slug it out with the Misfits. It is not really the textured musical artwork that captivates readers – it is the fascinating layout that puts the magnifying glass on each band member.
Jem and the Holograms feature energetic and dynamic pages, engrossing readers to feel the distinct vibe of a 1980’s glam-rock musical performance.
Music experts have spoken. These are the seven best music-themed comics to read, whether it is for kids developing their reading skills or adults looking for a valid excuse from mundane chores. Not only do these comic books have exciting storylines. They also put music front and center, making them invaluable additions to a music lover’s collection.
This article was written by Charles Vallena, Editor for Guitar Junky.