The unifying theme to this comics anthology is the type of simple, brilliant premise that feels inevitable. It's as if there was an empty space in the universe just waiting to be filled with this project, that asks its contributors one question as a jumping off point:
What story plays in your head when you listen to your favorite Smiths song?
The story that plays in my head mostly involves too much red wine and crying into a leather-bound journal, but that is why I do not make comic books.
The project's creator, Shawn Demumbrum — who owns an indie press called Spazdog, which he named after his comicbook store — had always wanted to collaborate with some of his favorite fellow comic book creators to make an anthology. He knew that making an anthology based on a theme everyone loved would be the most fun, and whose capital-F Feelings are a better unifier of comic book nerds than those of the master of melancholy himself, Steven Patrick Morrissey?
(For those of you wondering, the first Smiths song Shawn ever listened to was "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want" on the Pretty in Pink soundtrack in high school.)
Shawn set out to make what was essentially a comic book among friends, by local artists he'd gotten to know through his own involvement in the community. He launched a project with his "setlist" of 13 contributors, just like an album, and all inspired by different Smiths songs. "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before," "How Soon Is Now?" "Pretty Girls Make Graves," and "Girlfriend in a Coma," all make appearances. Visions of Super-Moz dance in my head.
When I checked out the project for the first time, all I could think was: "Why is this so perfect?" Maybe it's the idea of the unlikely hero, the precise yet open-ended theme, or the fact that the ethos of indie comics and the mythos of The Smiths go together so damn well, but we aren't the only ones who seem to think so.
What this means for the book is that the "setlist" has nearly doubled — from 13 up to 25 — and the pages have climbed from pocket-sized to nearly 200. Shawn is currently in the middle of getting the rights to all the Smiths songs and is already planning Volume 2. It's just one of those ideas that everyone wants to be a part of.
Shawn, if you're reading this, think about this for Volume 2:
"Asleep," featuring wine, crying, journaling, and passing out on your mom's couch.
I can't draw, but I do have Feelings.