Posted May 7th, 2017

This is the first post in a series about the origin of the comic

The idea for this comic has been brewing in my mind for some time. The concept didn’t so much strike me like a bolt out of the blue, but rather, it crept up over time. I devoted pockets of free time over months adding to the idea and visualizing its execution. However, I can trace it back to two discrete points of inspiration. The first was a blog post from April 25th 2013* over at my old comic, Folly and Innovation.

Here it is for you to peruse:

This is a short clip of from a fictional book entitled “Lord of the Rings and Also Skateboards” that I will write one day, maybe:

A deep rumble was suddenly emitted from the depths. The fellowship tensed at once and listened, breaths bated. The sound grew in volume and slowly became clearer. A pattern emerged. The sound was carrying a slow 4/4 beat.

“We’re not alone.” Pippen said, stating the obvious.

As it grew closer it became clear that the sound was emanating from a kick drum. A huge kick drum. Out of the depths rose another sound. This one was more distinct, more familiar. It played one bar before Gimili cried out, “That’s an electric guitar! The instrument of my brethren! They’re offering us a princely welcome to the Mines of Moria!”

The hobbits let out a collective sigh as Gimili beamed. But Gandalf did not smile. And Aragorn did not smile. Legolas was handsome, but also not smiling. Something was most definitely up.

A few more bars of melodic electric guitar washed over the fellowship, echoing through the caverns as if coming from nowhere and everywhere. It surrounded them. Just as the guitar fell into a few well selected powerchords, a horn began to play. Quietly at first, but growing in intensity.

“A trumpet.” Aragron breathed, looking sidelong at Gandalf.

“Yes.” The wizard whispered, eyes closed, consuming the music.

“What?” Cried Gimli “Surely not! None of my people would disgrace a song with the sounds of a poorly formed brass machination. It must be a bass guitar with distortion. Or maybe a well tuned synth. It cannot be a trumpet.”

“That’s no synth.” Said Legolas, handsomely glancing between the steely faces or Aragorn and Gandalf.

Boromir finally lost his patience and said, “What in the devil is it, then?!”

As if in response, the music stopped. But only for the most fractional of seconds. The invisible drummer, now utilizing his full kit, reeled off a tasty fill to kick off a new jam. The music was still in 4/4, but the emphasis was now on the unholy 2nd and 4th beats. The lone horn was joined by an entire middle school worth of amatuer saxaphones, trombones, euphoniums, and even tubas.

At the sound of the new music Gandalf’s nostrils flared to unsafe levels. Aragorn’s eyes swelled to the size of golf balls and Borimir looked about wildly, nervously fingering the acoustic guitar strapped to his back. Finally, Gandalf’s thunderous voice boomed out, “It’s Ska!”

A prettyboy elf-lord frontman. This is some of the first concept art I made.

This idea got stuck in my mind for years. Eventually, I linked it up with the Katayanagi Twins battle of the bands from the film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

The Katayanagi Twins. Courtesy of the Bryan Lee O’Malley’s beautiful hands and genius brain.

And from there it blossomed. I imagined a world where music had replaced martial combat as the means of resolving conflict that can’t be solved with words. I started to imagine how that world might look and what kinds of societies would spring up in that fertile fictional soil.

Next post, I’ll talk a bit more about the concept work I have done leading up to the comic’s creation. If you’d like to get these kinds of post delivered to you, see the options for following the comic.

PS. If you haven’t had a chance to read Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series, please do yourself the favor of imbibing it’s delicious artistic bounty.

*For reference, musically, those were the heady days of Macklemore’s Thrift Shop and Harlem Shake videos.