In Songs Illustrated, Paste enlists its favorite comic book artists and cartoonists to translate songs into comic art.
It all started one bizarre morning last December when I jolted wide awake with the singular, dominating thought that Neko Case’s songs should be comics. Marginally coherent, I emailed Paste Editor-In-Chief Josh Jackson at 3:30 a.m. to see if he felt the same way. He did. And why wouldn’t he, or anyone? For the last two decades, Case has woven haunting, bittersweet tales of loss, reconciliation and redemption throughout her eight albums. Tracks like “Fox Confessor Brings the Flood” and “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu” affirm honed storytelling chops that could accommodate any medium. “Wild Creatures,” a primal journey of empowerment and rebellion, was an even more visceral canvas to use for a potential first entry.
After deciding to embark on this new venture, we had to think pragmatically of the right voices to make it work. Luckily, there’s only one creator who can express Neko’s meticulous balance of elegance, power and menace in her work: Emily Carroll. Her print collection of harrowing fairy and folk tales, Through the Woods, easily landed our best comics of 2014 list. Her subsequent output has confirmed her as one of the premier storytellers of the field, a sentiment echoed by two Eisner nominations this year. I could ramble all day about how the work of Neko and Emily harmonize on so many different levels, but the below comic speaks more articulately than I ever could.
Past this debut, the Songs Illustrated series will pair more amazing bands with more gifted storytellers. It’s a new exercise designed to show the versatility of the comics medium, as well as show how the soul of music can transpose boundaries into colors and lines, allowing readers to listen with their eyes. Please enjoy.