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Exclusive: Comic/Album Hybrid Murder Ballads Debuts Evocative Variant Covers from Chris Hunt & Ian McGinty

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Exclusive: Comic/Album Hybrid <I>Murder Ballads</i> Debuts Evocative Variant Covers from Chris Hunt & Ian McGinty

In Leadbelly’s rendition of the iconic folk song “In the Pines,” the blues legend wails and beseeches his lover, “Where did you stay last night?”

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A similar scenario plays out in Murder Ballads, the new graphic novel/album hybrid from publisher Z2. The sequential art segment—written by Gabe Soria with art from Paul Reinwand, Warren Pleece and Chris Hunt—follows an imploding married couple en route from Shreveport to Los Angeles. On the cusp of divorce, Mary wakes up in a seedy hotel to find her ex-addict husband, Nate, absent. Fortunately, he’s fallen in love with a pair of local blues savants, the Fontweathers Brothers—not a homewrecker in the traditional connotation. The comic choreographs Nate and Mary’s struggle to get the brothers to record an album with Franklin Bonisteel, a burnt-out, mythical producer with a high price tag and questionable morals.

The work is a gritty piece of trans-media noir, complemented by a 5-song EP from The Black Keys’ frontman Dan Auerbach and blues staple Robert Finley; the pair even delivers a gripping cover of “In the Pines” accompanied by an especially creepy theremin. The record is only available with the graphic novel.

Today, Paste debuts two variant covers for Murder Ballads. The first comes courtesy interior artist, Carver mastermind and Paste contributor Chris Hunt, featuring a scene that hints at one of the most foreboding consequences in the graphic novel, rendered in stark contrasts with abrasive textures. The cover is exclusive to Fried Pie Comics. The second cover by Ian McGinty takes a more whimsical tone with two old-timey cartoon characters in an exclusive for Most Good Hobby.

Murder Ballads releases on July 25th. Check out the covers and a preview below.
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Murder Ballads Variant Cover by Chris Hunt

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Murder Ballads Variant Cover by Ian McGinty

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Murder Ballads Interior Art by Paul Reinwand

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Murder Ballads Interior Art by Paul Reinwand

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Murder Ballads Interior Art by Paul Reinwand

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Murder Ballads Interior Art by Paul Reinwand

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