Quickly, name a song about comic books. Can you do it? And if you managed that trying feat, can you name a second one? Unsurprisingly, it’s not a simple task.
Music is often used to express passion, and if you’ve visited any comic book website forum, you know comic fans have passion **in spades**. So why is it that there aren’t more songs about comic books? Perhaps the ratio of comic fans to comic fan-musicians has historically been too low. Fortunately, it only takes one…and Kirby Krackle intends to be your comic book rock of choice!
The self-dubbed “world’s first comic book rock band” is the result of a collaboration between two pop culture junkies, Jim Demonakos and Kyle Stevens. Demonakos is the organizer of the Emerald City ComiCon and co-owner of a chain of comic book shops in the state of Washington (The Comic Stop), while Stevens is a professional musician (“Songs from the Orange Room”) and, as luck would have it, an avid comic book reader.
“Kyle shops at one of my stores, and we’d always talk both music and comics,” Demonakos told CBR. “At some point, both of us lamented the fact that there were really no good comic book songs out there and figured we had enough nerd knowledge between the two of us to make something happen.”
After several get-togethers where they discussed a wide variety of topics – including comic books, video games, zombies, and girls – Kirby Krackle was formed! Demonakos’ business partner, Brian Meredith, came up with the appropriately comic-flavored moniker, while JG Roshell and Richard Starkings whipped up a logo that popped (and “krackled,” one supposes).
As for coming up with the tunes, the duo looked over the ideas from their numerous brainstorming sessions and found the ones that inspired a catchy chorus. From that point, they wrote “pages and pages of lyrics” as they trimmed things down to a final song. After that, it was just a matter of finding the right musical theme for the composition. On the song “Zombie Apocalypse,” for example, there was only one instrument that could conceivably convey the appropriate tone the songwriters were going for – in this case, a ukulele.
“I had gotten a ukulele the week before, and thought it was so ridiculous that it had to be done,” Stevens explained. “I really like things taken out of context, so when the opportunity came up to do a zombie song that was part-social commentary/part-horror ditty with an island sound, we couldn't say no!”
“Kirby Krackle” has been up and running as a band for about eight months. In that time, they have tried to make their presence known through conventions (including the Emerald City ComiCon and the New York ComiCon), blogs, podcasts, Facebook, and, basically, any means available to them. And so far, it seems to be working.
“The convention appearances we've been doing have really been some of the most fun I've ever had in my life,” Stevens told CBR. “The people who come by range from folks who've downloaded the album online, to those who are skeptical about what we even are – and that's the fun of it! Meeting people who already love it – and knowing you get to introduce new folks to the sound that are gonna love it – is something that is really rewarding as both a musician and a comic fan.”
“We’ve been really fortunate that people have really enjoyed the stuff we’re doing,” added Demonakos. “Early on, I sent some of the songs to [Marvel editor] C.B. Cebulski, who was the first pro to give us feedback. He also passed on the music to [Marvel Editor-In-Chief] Joe Quesada, who gave us a huge shout-out before our debut at New York Comic Con this year. It’s been great because the songs come from a genuine love of the medium and that really translates.”
“For a kid who grew up loving music and comics his whole life, it's so cool to be able to combine the two and have it be enjoyed not only by fans like us, but by the people that made you love the genre,” said Stevens. “Like Jim said, the guys at Marvel have been really supportive of KK, and since we're writing about their characters a lot of the time, that’s a good thing!”
One can only imagine the House of Ideas employees getting their groove on to a song such as “Marvelous Girls” – an ode to the various nationalities of women in the Marvel Universe (including Latveria, Wakanda, and Genosha). But Kirby Krackle’s themes display no publisher allegiance or preference, and none are safe from a bit of ribbing. Just look at the lyrics to “Another New Crisis”:
A Countdown, a Civil War, 52 changes;
A Green World War and a Secret Invasion
I don't wanna stop but it's wearing me out,
you and me know this is not what it's all about!
In talking about this particular song, Stevens described their inspirations with a bit of a chuckle. “Every summer, we hear (and hope) that ‘everything will change!’....and it doesn't. That's comics though, right? [The big crossover] is something every company does and we'll always buy it, and it's this co-dependency that I think we should all acknowledge and just laugh about! I hope bank-breaking crossovers keep happening so I can buy ‘em and get excited – but you can be sure we'll keep complaining about ‘em as well!”
The band is releasing a new single today, and it covers a topic they most definitely aren’t complaining about – their passion for Green Lantern. The song is called “Ring Capacity,” and if willpower were music, it would probably sound just like this…at least as far as Demonakos is concerned.
“From the DC pantheon, Green Lantern is my favorite character and one of Kyle’s as well. For my money, the two GL books by Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi are hands-down a couple of the best books they’re publishing. We’re both really excited for ‘Blackest Night’ and wanted to put down our love for Green Lantern into a song.”
With regards to the “Ring Capacity”-angle of the tune, Stevens explained, “While I was down in Mexico a few months back, I was catching up on Johns’ run and really fell in love with the whole ‘Ring Capacity’ bubble that would pop up when Hal Jordan's ring was powering down. I just thought it was so cool to have that kind of back-of-your-mind anxiety letting you know that you only have a limited amount of juice before you get seriously jacked up. I stared humming the chorus and kept counting it down percentage-wise and thought that we might be onto something cool!”
Demonakos agreed and, together, the two songwriters structured the song to be a fight between Green Lantern and Sinestro. They worked to avoid certain clichés, but knew certain elements had to be included as well – like the Green Lantern oath.
“We definitely wanted it in there and utilized it as part of the bridge, so it could be an integral part of the ‘story arc’ in the song. It sounded awesome, and conveniently, it already rhymed!”
Stevens added, “I hope fans of Green Lantern will really enjoy it and see it in their mind's eye as we did. It's kind of a ‘moment in time’ battle that we feel is universal to the GL history. Also, the battle scenario really let us rip loose with some big guitars and a big sound that hopefully will let fans of KK experience our harder-edged rock style.”
For those new to Kirby Krackle who would also like to “experience” this new single, Demonakos has some welcome news, especially in these troubling economic times: “The song is a big ‘thank you’ to our fans for helping us have such a good time since the album dropped in January. Anyone signed up for our mailing list (at http://www.kirbykracklemusic.com) receives "Ring Capacity" in their inbox absolutely free!”
It seems that those who sign up for the mailing list will also receive a very special piece of art along with the single – a Green Lantern portrait by Eisner Award-nominated artist Nate Powell (“Swallow Me Whole”). “Nate is a buddy of mine and is currently illustrating (a graphic novel I’ve written), so I called in a favor and asked if he could do something cool for our single,” Demonakos added. “The art you see is what he did, and he really knocked it out of the park.”
As Kirby Krackle isn’t a household name yet, you won’t find their first CD at your local Walmart. However, you can purchase a physical copy of the album (featuring cover art by Jim Mahfood) from their website, or download it through all the major online outlets, like iTunes, Amazon MP3, or Digstation. And if you’d like to rock with them in person, your opportunity is coming soon.
“Our next appearance is at the San Diego Comic-Con. We’ll be at booth #1803 with our CD, merchandise, and free, non-creepy hugs,” Demonakos confirmed.
“Currently we're working on putting together an acoustic performance of the album at a venue close to the Con,” said Stevens. “Keep checking our site for details, and if you want the constant up-to-date KK news and hopefully entertaining ramblings as well, follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/kirbykrackle!”