EXCLUSIVE TRAILER There’s a long, loud, and vivid history of crossover between rock music and comic books, be it music stars showing up in comics as characters (like KISS, whose band members added their own blood to the ink used for a 1970s-era Marvel Comics adventure) or all of the comic book artists who have moonlighted as album art contributors (among them Jack Kirby, R. Crumb, Frank Frazetta, John Byrne, and Dave Gibbons). But these days the most active nexus between the pop-culture realms involves music stars who write comic books,
Gerard Way (Umbrella Academy), Tom Morello (Orchid), M.F. Grimm (Sentences), and Rob Zombie (The Nail) are among the notable names from the music world who have penned comic book adventures, while two superstar DJs, Steve Aoki and Don Diablo, are bringing comic book projects to New York Comic Con, which is now underway at Javits Center. Another music star at the New York expo this weekend: Alan Robert of the Brooklyn-based band Life of Agony, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year as a mainstay of the heavy music scene (nd has a new album out on Oct. 11). Deadline caught up with Robert to talk about the common ground that lies between spinner racks and the record bin. Above you can watch the new trailer (released here at Deadline first and exclusively) for Robert’s newest book, a Halloween-themed entry in his bestselling series The Beauty of Horror,
DEADLINE: You’re no tourist in the comic book world at this point but a lot of casual observers might assume music stars are dabbling in comics as an offbeat vanity project. Can you give us an overview of your experience in the sector and maybe a thought about the reason the music-to-comics pipeline is busy these days?
ALAN ROBERT: I’ve been writing and illustrating comics, graphic novels and horror coloring books for about a decade now with my friends at IDW Publishing and with title like Crawl To Me, Killogy, Wire Hangers, The Beauty Of Horror, and we’ve found so much crossover exists between music fans and the comics audience. I think that within the horror genre, especially, you find a lot of heavy music fans are into horror and its imagery.
DEADLINE: Your art is has taken off in some unexpected directions. You designed a poster for the film The Nun that was selected by New Line Cinema for the horror film The Nun. And you have another IDW illustrated release but it’s not a comic book…?
ROBERT: When I first started The Beauty Of Horror coloring book series in 2016, I didn’t really know what to expect, but we found out very quickly that the adult coloring book audience were hungry to color something other than nature and animals for a change… they were hungry for brains! The Beauty Of Horror turned out to be an immediate breakout hit, and connected with audiences all over the world, which even led to the books being translated for Polish and Korean releases. The success has been a great surprise, and each book has topped the bestseller lists. The Beauty Of Horror has actually out sold all of my other comics properties, and I am very grateful to the audience for allowing me to expand the universe in more creative ways. For instance, this month, we have The Beauty Of Horror Tarot Card Sets available. This is an all new coloring format for the series, where you can literally color in your own destiny (laughs). This has been a labor of love for me to draw 78 cards over the last few months. The level of detail is something I’m very proud of, and I think fans are going to really dig it. The Kickstarter starts October 22.
DEADLINE: I’m curious about the craft of it. What have you found makes the best coloring book pages? As far as the attributes of the images?
ROBERT: it’s interesting, because it really depends on the colorist and which format they prefer. For instance, The Beauty Of Horror Volumes 1-3 feature double-page spreads, while the Tricks And Treats Halloween special and the Ghosts Of Christmas Christmas special include square, perforated one-sided sheets. Ghouliana, the book’s undead little girl mascot, has been a huge hit with fans, and pages that include her and her mischievous pals always get a lot of love and attention. Some of the images colored from the Christmas book have really blown my mind, and if you haven’t seen the claymation we put out to promote that release, animated by Trent Shy, you’ll see what I mean! That video went viral with over 5.5 million YouTube views and continues to inspire colorists to destroy their favorite Christmas characters.
DEADLINE: Philosophical question: Do you discourage coloring outside the lines?
ROBERT: Absolutely not! I encourage it! Color any way you want… it’s all about creative expression. That’s the great thing about it. I’ve seen hundreds of fans color the same exact Beauty Of Horror page, yet every result is completely different. Coloring is also a great way to disconnect from technology for a few minutes. You can just zone out and lose yourself in your own head for awhile. In fact, studies have proven that coloring has helped people with anxiety issues, and I absolutely agree it’s a relaxing thing to do. They refer to it as “art therapy”, except with The Beauty Of Horror books, and its twisted imagery, I consider it more like “Art Therapy for the Abnormal.”