BCP Interview – Jesse Blaze Snider mixes music and comics with BLACK LIGHT DISTRICT
The world of comic book and music have definitely started to intertwine more and more in recent years, from the acclaimed works of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie like Phonogram and The Wicked + The Divine, to the rising trend of comic creators publishing online playlists to accompany their work (see David Aja with Hawkeye and Kate Leth with Patsy Palmer AKA Hellcat).
Rarely however have the two mediums been bonded so intimately as they are with Black Light District: 6 Issues, an Image Comics one-shot from musician, writer and voiceover artist Jesse Blaze Snider. Named after the writer’s home studio, the project sees Snider pairing up with UK based singer-songwriter Will Knox to produce a set of tracks – each set to be paired with a short mini comic from acclaimed comic book artistic talent like Jason Pearson, Chris Burnham, Andrew Dalhouse, J.K. Woodward, Andrea Tamme, David Witt, Michael Spicer and Phil Hester.
We were fortunate enough to be able to sit down and have a chat with Jesse about how the project came about, and what readers should expect when the printed version goes on sale next month,
BIG COMIC PAGE: Thanks for your time, Jesse. Firstly, for readers who may not be aware, could you give us the quick “elevator pitch” for Black Light District?
JESSE BLAZE SNIDER: I guess you could call them “comic book music videos” that you are meant to read along with music available to listen to for free at BlackLightDistrict.co. Though they are also describable as an immersive art experience that uses music to better help you get inside the artistic worlds of some of today’s great artistic talents.
I found a whole new love for them and the EP(short album) when I finally sat down to read/listen. It just pulled me into everyone’s art work in a way I’d never quite been pulled in before. You really must give it a try so you can see what I mean.
BCP: How did the project initially come about? Was it a case of thinking “hey, this song would make a great comic”, “hey, I know just what kind of music would work well with this story”, or something more intentional?
JBS: Well, it came about quite naturally. The thing I always liked the most about comic books was the great stakes. You know, the end of the world if Superman doesn’t save you or the end of your life if Daredevil can’t save you. I wanted to use comic books as metaphors to raise the severity of my metaphors. I also wanted to make something that mattered to people, something that might save someone the way comic books had so often saved me. When we had finished and it was so completely that, visuals just started popping into my head and I almost immediately decided to do a book like this. Music and comics built to try and save and comfort the world.
BCP: Tell us a little bit about the stories themselves. What kind of themes and genres should readers expect to see?
JBS: It’s called “black light district: 6issues” because all six song are what I see as major social issues and societal issues that need acknowledging and addressing. For example, depression is the subject of “green” and I’ve suffered a few bouts of it, I may be better, but this is something that millions of people are experiencing and wanted people to know they weren’t alone. One of the societal ones is corruption in American politics, “Symptoms” uses the zombie apocalypse as a metaphor for greed being spread around Washington DC. It’s a range, but they are all pointing at problems we all face.
BCP: And the music itself? What kind of musical styles are on display here?
JBS: Styles? It’s mode music with attitude and sorrow. Very dynamic and theatrical, some of it is rock music, some of it is pop music, all a little industrial/electronic, sometimes a little country, usually a mix of everything. It’s really meant to transcend genre and leave that behind. Paired with the comics especially, the comic provides the genre/context for the music.
BCP: Is there a narrative theme throughout the collection, or do they each stand on their own?
JBS: Each stands on its own completely. None of the artist heard anything but their song and saw no ones work but their own until it was all finished.
BCP: You’ve managed to partner up with some truly impressive artistic talent for this one. How did you end up collaborating with the likes of Chris Burnham, Andrew Dalhouse and JK Woodward?
JBS: Largely they are all friends of mine or people who I have met in my decade and half in comic books. I was in the grind pitching Marvel and DC for years, but I got fed up with the system and moved onto doing my own things. When it came time I reached out to all my favorite people and they said YES!
BCP: Is this the beginning of a new ongoing project for you? The fusion of comics and music into something totally new?
JBS: I don’t have an immediate plans to do it again right now, but I would love to do it some more. It was really an incredible experience, but for now I’m gonna se if I can get an audience to give this a chance first.
BCP: And finally, if you could say one thing to a reader who may be on the fence about Black Light District to help convince them to pick it up, what would it be?
JBS: I’d say, flip through it. You’ll change your mind when you see the interiors and the poster of Chris Burnham and Andrew Dalhouse’s incredible cover! And hear and read what people are already saying about it. I believe strongly that it is worth everyone’s time and money because of all the incredible work of my collaborators all the way down the line. Everyone did exceptional work. You can check it out for free right now at www.blacklightdistrict.co.
BCP: Thanks again for your time, Jesse.
BLACK LIGHT DISTRICT: 6 ISSUES goes on sale October 12th from Image Comics, and in the meantime, make sure you’re following Jesse on Twitter for all the latest news about his incredibly diverse career.
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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