Music = Comics?

Do comics artists have musical twins? I think some do. For example, I’d say that Craig Thompson is the Sufjan Stevens of comics. Midwestern roots, struggles with faith, gorgeous compositions, a bit weepy… They even look similar (in fact, I was googling to make sure I was spelling both of their names correctly and came across this).

Craig Thompson = Sufjan Stevens

Others I’ve been toying with (or that have been suggested by others):

Will Eisner = Duke Ellington
R. Stevens = Daft Punk
James Kochalka = Flaming Lips
Paul Pope = T-Rex
Gary Panter = John Zorn
Jim Starlin = Yes
John Byrne = Phil Collins
Mary Fleener = B-52s
Eleanor Davis = Joanna Newsom
Jeph Jacques = Death Cab for Cutie

Some need two or more to match. I think that Bryan Lee O’Malley is a combination of Pizzicato Five and Go! Team, or maybe the Ting Tings, and Chris Ware might be our Radiohead, but you’d have to throw in some difficult turn-of-the-century composer like Charles Ives to really make it work.

My favorite suggestion so far was when Sky said that Ryan North oughtta be the Ramones because “the only thing that ever changes is the words.” I love my kids.

This whole thing started because of a now-defunct thread on the Comics Journal Message board on this same topic years ago. Someone had suggested that I could be the Raymond Scott of comics which I liked, but another poster logged in to say that I wasn’t good enough to be R.S. and was, in fact, the Thomas Dolby of comics. I objected, said that despite liking Dolby, I wanted to be the Raymond Scott of comics, to which my tormenter replied “make better comics then.” In the end, it was agreed that I could be upgraded to the Herbie Hancock of comics until further notice, which I thought was fair enough.

Working on a much bigger list. Any suggestions?

Discussion (55)¬

  1. Mr Bound says:

    Stan Sakai = Joe Hisaishi (composer for most Hayao Miyazaki films)
    Bryan Lee O’Malley = Jonathan Coulton
    Mike Mignola = Dragonforce
    Ryan North = Wesley Willis (much like the Ramones, the words seem to be the only thing that ever changes!)

  2. Scott says:

    Coulton for Mal is interesting. I may have been thinking more musically than lyrically in my picks — though in the case of Pizzicato Five, any band that could name a song “Twiggy Twiggy | Twiggy vs. James Bond” would have surely been in the running.

    Dragonforce, I confess, I don’t know, but the name sure sounds Mignola-like!

  3. Raddishh says:

    I love Bryan Lee O’Malley as the Go! Team! Brilliant comparison.
    But what about YOU? I can’t really think of any musicians who make songs about the technical aspects of making songs…

    I think the best I came up with are either They Might Be Giants or Cake, but it doesn’t really seem like a great comparison.

  4. Isaac says:

    This is sort of a cheap joke, but …

    Joe Matt = Devo ?

  5. Isaac says:

    On a more serious note: for a long while I have been mentally comparing Kevin Huizenga to Jay Farrar. I’m not sure why, exactly.

    • Scott says:

      Don’t have a Huizenga yet, but I figured we’d want someone willing wander musically into non-linear territory (Broken Social Scene? Eno?)

      • Isaac says:

        Jay Farrar might fit the bill there. Strong “roots” aesthetic, but totally willing to throw a few tracks of distortion noise onto a CD.

        roots music : bigfoot newspaper comics :: distortion noise : clouds of zipatone and diagram fragments

        Also, they’re both midwesterners, I’m pretty sure.

  6. Here’s a Dragon Force link for you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmU2R9lTivY

    Yes is *perfect* for Jim Starlin.

    I’m stuck trying to figure out Jack Kirby and Wally Woods right now… I’ll be back if I think of something.

    • Scott says:

      Ha! Okay Dragon Force is a riot. Not sure if they’re 100% MIgnola, though I don’t have a better one right now. Hm,

      I sometimes joke that Kirby was Elvis — both early slim rocker Elvis (FF) and fat leisure suit Elvis (Devil Dinosaur).

      Larry Marder sez Maybelle Carter for Kirby because of all that followed in her wake.

  7. Kirby may have been Elvis, but Kirby and Lee and Sinnott were The Beatles!

    I’m also thinking Johnny Craig — Jerry Lee Lewis.

  8. anon says:

    Chris Ware is a good match for John Adams, the minimalist experimental classical composer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Adams_(composer)

  9. And wouldn’t you think Paul Pope would be more akin to David Bowie? The glam lifestyle, the science fiction worlds, the esoteric grooviness…

    • Scott says:

      Bowie might be a bit more of a chameleon, but of course the two aren’t that far apart in the overall impression.

  10. Douglas Wolk says:

    Alan Moore = Prince.

    Scott McCloud = Brian Eno. (Early pop stuff that’s way ahead of its time –> formal experiments and innovations that inspire lots of other people, plus gradually emerging mentorship role.)

    Neal Adams = Eddie Van Halen.

  11. indigo says:

    how about R. Crumb as Frank Zappa? Impeccably consistent craftsmanship buried under layers of noodly distraction and repulsive surface. Plus? Prolific as hell.

  12. dayuse says:

    I once tried approaching the heavy relationship between music and comics before in my student newspaper column with the concept of comic soundtracks. Usually when I think of Jeph Jacques, Broken Social Scene comes to mind as he’s very vocal on his love for the band. The same goes for Craig Thompson and his friends from Menomena. As for others…

    Chris Hastings and Kent Archer = Ween
    Meredith Gran = Sloan OR The Strokes
    Kean Soo = Elliott Smith
    Dave Roman = Barenaked Ladies

  13. jltopkis says:

    I fully support Kirby as Elvis.

  14. cat says:

    as long as i don’t have to be weird al yankovic… or matisyahu…

  15. […] admin created an interesting post today on Music = Comics?Here’s a short outlineDo comics artists have musical twins? I think some do. For example, I’d say that Craig Thompson is the Sufjan Stevens of comics. Midwestern roots, struggles with faith, gorgeous compositions, a bit weepy… They even look similar (in fact, I was googling to make sure I was spelling both of their names … […]

  16. fedora says:

    What about Quino (argentinian comic strip atrist) ->Chumbawamba? Based on the fact, that they are both political and playful at the same time…

  17. Paul says:

    This is areally interesting idea that has had me thinking all day!
    How about:
    Alan Moore – Bob Dylan
    Neil Gaiman – Neil young
    Pat Mills & kevin O’Neill – Elvis Costello

    Just thought you might like a UK perspective.

  18. Scott says:

    Neil and I have talked about this actually. I’ve toyed with Echo and the Bunnymen, or Kate Bush, though they didn’t nearly have the staying power…

  19. Paul says:

    How about…

    Art Spiegelman – Miles Davis?

  20. guttolo says:

    Alan Moore – Pink Floyd
    Frank Miller- Stan ridgway

  21. Scott says:

    Paul and guttolo: I like the choices for both Art and Alan.

    Not sure about Frank though. Ridgway’s more, um… Rick Veitch or someone. Hmm…

    Frank is always tough to categorize. Whenever I get a goofy theory like this, Frank is always the one who doesn’t fit. I absently tossed out Iggy Pop last year at San Diego as a possibility for Frank and a cartoonist I know nearly killed me on the spot for the very idea of it!

  22. guttolo says:

    Garth Ennis – The Pogues (too easy? ^__^)
    Grant Morrison – Nine Inch Nails

  23. Mr. MCloud:
    I read this, and suddenly a LOT of things made sense about why I like both Yes and Jin Starlin.

    I Thank you for this one more insight (your books already gave several others)

  24. guttolo says:

    Neil Gaiman – King Crimson (if Alan Moore is Pink Floyd! ^__^)
    John Romita Sr. – Beatles
    John Romita Jr. – R.E.M.
    Todd McFarlane – Alice in Chains
    Warren Ellis – Talking Heads
    Scott McCloud – Cathy Berberian

  25. Paul says:

    Another Frank Miller (you’re right he is a difficult one!):

    Jimmi Hendrix?

  26. Scott says:

    Okay, I’ve got a plane to Belgium to catch (I’m at JFK between flights).

    You guys are awesome!

  27. fluffy says:

    And then of course there’s the cartoonists who also make music, such as Cat Garza, D.C. Simpson, and, er, myself (just to name a few).

  28. guttolo says:

    Rob Liefeld – Guns N’ Roses
    Hugo Pratt – Leonard Cohen (or the Italian Fabrizio De Andrè)

  29. Heather says:

    Shamus Young (of Dm of the Rings and Stolen Pixels http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/) = Party Ben (www.partyben.com)

  30. franq says:

    Frank Miller – Nick Cave
    Grant Morrison – Beck
    Hernandes Bros. – Pavement
    Jim Woodring – The Residents
    Jim Steranko – David Bowie
    Sam Keith – Sonic Youth

  31. Nathan says:

    Doug Tennapel – Five Iron Frenzy
    Peter Bagge – Mudhoney
    Johnny Ryan – Bob Rivers
    Frank Miller – Metallica

  32. Max Ink says:

    Just came across this tread and had a discussion with some of my local Columbus Cartoonist buddies and these are some we came up with:

    Scott McCloud – David Byrne or XTC
    Steve Gerber – Frank Zappa
    Rob Liefeld – Vanilla Ice
    Kyle Baker – Prince
    Ron Frenz – Styx
    Steve Ditko – Brian Wilson
    Todd McFarlane – Andrew Lloyd Weber
    Dave Sim – Lou Reed
    Alan Moore – Roger Waters (more so than the whole of Pink Floyd)

  33. Matthew Marcus says:

    Someone should do this guy. He has a lot of comic book iconography in his video.


  34. Mike Leung says:

    Neal Adams -> Jimi Hendrix
    Kyle Baker -> Randy Newman
    Will Eisner -> Les Paul
    Neil Gaiman -> Bono
    Scott McCloud -> agree with David Byrne
    Frank Miller -> Keith Richards
    Alan Moore -> Bob Dylan
    Seigel & Schuster -> Buddy Holly
    Dave Sim -> Ted Nugent
    Art Spiegelman -> Lou Reed