Home Comics Indies Harris & Hutchison Deliver A Bohemian Rhapsody With Launch Of "Rockstars"

Harris & Hutchison Deliver A Bohemian Rhapsody With Launch Of “Rockstars”

It’s Led Zeppelin meets The X-Files as writer Joe Harris and artist Megan Hutchison talk about their forthcoming Image Comics series “Rockstars”. Strap in for a Rock ‘n’ Roll mystery tour like no other!


GG: Congratulations on what looks like an awesome new series! Joe, tell us a bit about “Rockstars”. What is the series about?

JH: It’s a rock ‘n’ roll supernatural thriller; a love letter to the music I adore, and an exploration into what’s hidden behind the music.  It follows two young investigators named Jackie and Dorothy (along with Skydog, Jackie’s cat) as they try to get to the bottom of unsolved, even previously unknown, mysteries related to rock history both known and secreted away.

GG: How did you come up with the idea of Rockstars? Is this Led Zep meets X-Files?

JH: That’s sounds about right! I’ve been saying “Almost Famous meets Supernatural,” but I think I like yours better! The genesis of this idea is really the outgrowth of what feels like ten lifetimes spent being absolutely captivated by rock history, in particular, the glamour of the 1970s arena rock heyday. I’ve always loved getting to the bottom of things like the clues the Beatles would weave into their recordings to f@ck the audience over the “Paul is Dead” rumors, and the debauchery I’d read about in books like Stephen Davis’ Hammer of the Gods and Jerry Hopkins’ Doors book, No One Here Gets Out Alive. Further, my last two creator-owned series at Image were kinda heavy and dark environmental disaster sci-fi titles, and I wanted to do something fun. Of course this is looking pretty gloriously dark too, so who knows what I’m really up to here.



GG: How much of your own musical influences can we see in this series? Is this a personal tribute to the kind of music you love or grew up with?

JH: Yeah, absolutely. Rockstars will have one foot thoroughly planted in the 1970s, which is where the bulk of my love of music resides, but we will be branching out to explore mysteries tied to other eras and genres within the great, broad rock ‘n’ roll family tree. I love it all. We’ll get to 80s metal. I’d love to figure out how to pull off a 90s rap story at some point too. But I postulate that I could write a “Rockstars” story set in 18th century Vienna that explores the celebrity and debauchery that revolved around Mozart and Beethoven, the rockstars of their ages.

MH: I think both Joe and I are really into music. We both play music and grew up identifying ourselves with certain genres [he was more classic rock, I’m more new wave/goth] so it inevitably shows up in our respective work. Sometimes in the script, Joe asks me to specially include something in reference to a band or song. However, I do that on my own as well, pulling fashion and set dressing from not only the music I like but the influential periods in rock history.
GG: From the very first page of the book, there are iconic rock history references. Is this a book that will be enjoyed more by lovers of rock?
JH: Well, lovers of rock ‘n’ roll are going to be extra rewarded for sure. I take my references very seriously. That said, I hope we’re telling stories that are universal. That’s the goal. To my mind, no matter what you like in terms of musical taste, this series is entertainment in its own right. Rock is the backdrop. And if people who never flew an X-Wing fighter and fought for the Rebel Alliance against the Empire can find a way to enjoy Star Wars, I posit that Rockstars is as blank a slate for any and everyone to enjoy.
MH: I think people who love story and character and silliness and horror will enjoy this book. You don’t have to be super into rock, but people who do love it will be thrilled for sure. I’m also hoping that this will be an eye-opener for people who don’t know classic rock or the major influences in rock history.
GG: Joe and Megan, how did you both get together on this project? 
JH: Darick Robertson introduced us back at Emerald City Comicon a few years ago (we have many mutual friends, it would turn out), and we ended up on the same flight down to LA afterwards. Megan had just published her first Original Graphic Novel and I really liked her style, and her personality and attitude, which is so important both in a collaborative sense, and just in a representational one. We don’t like all the same things at all, but I think our differences compliment and she brings this dark, sexy and cool vibe that only feels more entertaining to me the way it all swirls together rather than dense or something other than fun, you know? The energy was good. I was intrigued.
MH: Joe and I get along really well so I knew from our first discussion that this would be a ton of fun to work on together. The fates aligned that we should meet and work on this book.
GG: Megan, you have a totally unique style of art that seems to really give life to a project. Your Will O’ the Wisp book is a great example. And it looks like Rockstars will be the same. Even looking at just the first issue, I can’t imagine this book being brought to life by anyone else!
MH: Thank you! I always wanted to draw comics. Growing up in the 90’s everyone drew superheroes a certain way and that was never the way I drew, so I gave up on that dream for years. To have not only the opportunity to work in comics but to also have people dig my style, is beyond awesome. I think my style fits the book, it’s dark and weird and a little fantastical/goofy. Also, Joe has really allowed me to grow as an artist, writing things that he thinks would be fun visually and including things that would suite my style. And in turn, my art has influenced his writing.
GG: Joe, the character Jackie Mayer is very interesting. He seems like someone who is at the same time both inspired and burdened by the events of the past.
JH: Jackie grew up with his dad, a former security guard who worked for lots of massive rock acts on the road, but who’d found himself down and out and on his last legs by the time Jackie was old enough to understand the life he’d left behind. His father died under mysterious circumstances some years back, and Jackie’s been sort of living to please his father’s memory and seeking guidance from the “conversations” (which are akin to how Dexter would speak to Harry, or how Jesse Custer would hear from the faceless ghost of John Wayne) he has with him since. And the reason this all works, we’ll learn soon enough, is that Jackie is sort of “attuned” to music and music’s secrets in a way that you, I, and we aren’t. He’s got this strange, almost psychic connection that reveals what’s really going on behind the music and the legends and the secrets, to him. It’s also about to get him in some serious trouble.
GG: What was the inspiration behind him? And what kind of conflicts can we expect to see for this character moving forward?
JH: I’d say there’s some of Patrick Fugit’s character from Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous in there. But there’s, really, some of every kid, me included, who covered their binder with band names and logos in school in Rockstars. I’m sure a lifetime of watching movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont HighDazed and Confused, and every teen screwball sex comedy franchise from Porky’s on down, comedies like Caddyshack, television like That 70s Show — it’s all probably represented in the series somewhat.
So far as the conflicts go and pushing Jackie forward, he’s going to come to realize that his talents, for lack of a better word, are connected to this supernatural conspiracy  centered around demonic possession, sympathy for the devil and the same kind of bad luck and screwed up destiny that consumed his father back when.
GG: Talk to me about the character Dorothy Buell. She seems like a very strong character, someone that Jackie may well need as the series progresses.
JH: Dorothy is awesome, not one for bullshit, and a definite grounding presence for Jackie who’s kind of got his head in the clouds a bit. She’s an aspiring music writer who bemoans both the state of music and entertainment today along with the decline of media and journalism. She’s a bit of a crusader underneath it all, a young woman who fancies herself a hard-charging Woodward and Bernstein type, or a current-day Erin Brockovich fighting on the side of angels against the powers that be. But that’s something of a dodge, I think, too. In the end, she’s hungry for a story. And Jackie isn’t just going to expose her to trove of subject matter as her source, but as her subject too. He just doesn’t know it yet!
MH: I tried to juxtapose Dorothy and Jackie. Her hard, outgoing, bulldozer personality with Jackie’s shy, nerdy, mystical nature. As the story progresses I think they’re going to start rubbing off on each other, developing characteristics reminiscent of one another.
GG: The series kicks off with a lot of reference to 70’s Rock. Where else will you be taking these intrepid rock investigators? 
JH: The next arc is going to delve into 80s metal, I think, along with some of the movements and genres that informed the Iron Maiden and Judas Priest era. I’d love to touch on Motown, along with other R&B scenes from the 60s and 70s like the Stax Records scene, or Muscle Shoals out of Alabama. 1960s British Invasion. 80s hip-hop, potentially. There’s a lot of ground to potentially cover.
MH: I’m pushing for glamrock into 80’s goth just because I want to draw that. However, as the series progresses you can bet there will be a lot more hair and sparkles.
Rockstars will be released through Image Comics on December 14, 2016. Order at your Local Comic Shop or go to https://imagecomics.com/comics/releases/rockstars-1

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