There's two things Jesse Blaze Snider is passionate about: comics and music. Having done both, it makes perfect sense for him to combine the two. Black Light District is a one-shot containing six illustratd stories set to the music of the geek culture-inspired "Black Light District" EP. The book will feature art by Chris Burnham (Nameless, Officer Downe), Phil Hester (Mythic, Green Arrow), Jason Pearson (Body Bags, Legion of Superheroes), Andrea Tamme (Adventure Time), David Witt (The Growler Magazine), J.K. Woodward (Fallen Angel, Star Trek), Michael Spicer (Mythic, Sons of Anarchy), Erik Larsen (Savage Dragon), and Chris Eliopoulos (Savage Dragon, Pet Avengers).
We talked to Jesse to find out more about how this project came about. We also have an exclusive video for the song "Hammer."
Comic Vine: How did this project get started?
Jesse Blaze Snider: It started as a way to make some interesting music. I got the idea that I might be able to take my favorite part of comic books and bring it into my music, specifically the high stakes. In comic books the stakes are typically the end of the world, either the end of an individual's way of life as they know it or possibly the end their life, the entire planet or universe if something isn't done. In this modern age many people suffer from ADHD, OCD and depression and all of these ailments sort of make you feel like everything is the end of the world. I've struggled with depression myself, thankfully over it these days, but I definitely went through a period where I was living in this heightened state where certain things were really crushing to me and I knew I could use the metaphors from comic books to get that emotion out of me.
At what stage did you decide to create a comic to go with the EP?
Shorty after finishing the demo of "Symptoms." I heard that song and was very inspired. That song made me feel like I had really created something unique and I got this flash vision of the zombie apocalypse taking place in Washington DC spread by money and greed. At the time I had Tony Moore in mind to do it, and I wasn't able to get it together with him in the end, but from that moment on "6 issues" was stuck in my craw. The fact that there were six songs and each one represented a personal or societal issue that mankind is facing right now was just an added bonus.
Will the stories only contain the song lyrics or will there be any dialogue to go with the visuals?
No, there is no dialogue. The visual images tell the story along side the lyrics to the song. Essentially each artist has produced there own music video, using their artistic style to interpret the larger meaning behind the songs. Although, J.K. Woodward had written his own lyrics/script by accident! It was excellent actually, but I only needed the gorgeous art unfortunately. Though J.K. had such a great time doing that it inspired a new creator owned project for him. I’m excited to see it.
How was each artist chosen for each particular issue?
They were largely chosen based on their personal style and the ambiance of the song itself. "Symptoms" is very gritty and sort of indy, I initially went after Tony Moore. Fortunately for me, my great friend David Witt, who is a brilliant poster artist was available and he had a similar, though unique vibe to Tony. "Frozen" seemed like it needed to be painted. I reached out to all my painter friends, Alex Ross and J.K. In the end it came down to schedules. Who was available and could get it done? It was also important to me that it wasn’t just a bunch of white dudes. The subject matter of the EP was universal and I wanted it to be a universal artistic experience where vastly different styles were supporting and contrasting each other.
You've written several comics before. Any plans for more or is your focus more on your music?
I'm done with corporate comics until they start banging down my door. In the meantime I’m producing my own project co-created by Mark Poulton called King of Kings about religious figures reimagined as rockstar in a battle of the bands to determine the reigning religion/music style of the day. I'm also producing the incredible Mythic Legions Art Book for the Mythic Legions toy line that Four Horseman Studios Kickstarted last year! I'm not writing that myself, just editing and shepherding it a little. It doesn't need much help, it's being written by Gargoyles' creator Greg Weisman. Also, my friend Jorge Coelho and I are providing a one-pager for Marc Andreyko's Orlando Tribute anthology.
Could we see a Black Light District Volume 2 someday?
Definitely! This was a total labor of love and I'd love to make some more. Just the most wonderful and rewarding collaborative experience of my life. I'm so darn proud of it and excited for everyone to check it out. In fact, if you can’t wait until October you can check out most of the book at www.blacklightdistrict.co right NOW!
Black Light District will be available on October 12, from Image Comics.