Tuesday, May 5, 2009

From Big Band To Rap

Moments after posting my entry on Jack Kirby and Paul McCartney this morning, my friend Dion Cautrell sent me an email with a link to today’s press release announcing that Marvel Comics has teamed up with Eminem to create a limited series comic featuring the famed rapper and Marvel’s provocative vigilante, The Punisher, in Eminem/Punisher: Kill You. Apparently Marvel discovered Eminem is a fan of The Punisher, and worked out an arrangement with the musician to issue a comic coinciding with the release of his new album. Click the link on my blog entry from earlier today (below) to go to my initial discussion of the relation between rock music and the comics. I admit to being hard-pressed to think of another popular musician appearing as himself in an original comic book story; I’ve previously cited Alice Cooper’s From the Inside, a comic featuring Alice as well as characters from his 1978 album of the same title. I don’t think the now defunct “Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics,” published by Revolutionary Comics, qualify, as they largely consisted of a rock star’s or rock band’s biography told in graphic novel form.

The only other popular musician I can think of who appeared as himself in a comic book with an original story is big band leader Kay Kyser, who appeared with Batman and Robin in DC’s Detective Comics #144 (February 1949; pictured), in an episode entitled “The Mystery Broadcast.” Kay Kyser’s band was one of the most popular of the big band era, and no other bandleader of the swing era can boast such an extensive filmography as Kyser. Although hugely popular during the late 1930s and the 1940s, especially with his “College of Musical Knowledge” radio show, Kyser permanently retired from the music business shortly after Detective Comics #144 appeared in 1949. He hosted a TV game show sponsored by Ford Motor Company in 1950, but retired by the end of that year, largely explaining why he is virtually unknown to “Baby Boomers.” The fact that he appeared as a character in a comic book suggests just how popular he was at the time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There's at least one other example: The band KISS were featured in a fairly infamous comic book from Marvel in the 1970s. Written by Steve "Howard the Duck" Gerber, no less.