I can’t remember if I’ve ever mentioned here, but certainly when giving advice I often tell people that a great way of coming up with story ideas is to listen to music and let that inspire you. Sure, it sounds a little wishy-washy, and I’m not saying it’ll work for everyone, but for people like me who envision the entire ‘cinematic’ experience in their minds first, it becomes indispensible. It’s actually why I include them tunes for each of the characters in the Elf Blood Extras; They’re usually pieces/songs that I have in my mind whenever I think of the character, or have used to shape the personality of the character. For example, Carlita’s song is Stockport Carnival by Mr. Scruff. This piece doesn’t have lyrics, or necessarily any particular meaning; but the latin sound combined with Mr. Scruff’s trademark quirky bass and electronic drums gave me the image of Carlita relaxing in the sun, drink in hand and shades on, and really helped to define the cool, sexy superspy aspect of her character. Thanks to Stockport Carnival, Carlita went from being a merc who provided info to both sides to being a hyper-competent secret agent type, with ties to the exotic.

Similarly, music often influences the direction I want to take storylines in. You’ll notice that Mara’s theme tune is Dark Eternal Night by Dream Theater, a song with references to serving some dark force, a demon or some sort of Lovecraftian God. I knew right at the start of Elf Blood that I wanted Mara to turn, and that killing her best friend Fliss would be the pivotal moment for her. However, I was teetering back and forth on actually killing off Fliss, and even having Mara outright murdering her in cold blood. Listening more to Dark Eternal Night implanted the idea of Lord Anger in my head, a particularly vicious type of spirit who did not directly take control of Mara but instead drove her to anger and fed off it, I did this because I felt demonic possession would have forced the story too much. Instead I used the feelings of anger from the song to inspire the rage that Anger built up inside Mara by continuously taunting her, feeding her little lies and revealing some uncomfortable truths. This way, I thought, was a lot more satisfying to write and, I hope, to read!

Fast forward to today; The Graphic Novel I’m illustrating at the moment has a number of metal songs behind it, reflecting the savage, frustrating, falsely liberating and tragic aspects of drug addiction and power abuse. I’m also planning one of next year’s projects, a single-issue story that’s actually quite Elf-Blood-like, about Chinese fox-spirits. That’s going to be a lot of fun to do, and is based on research I did when I was last over in HK. For that one, I’m going down the more obvious route of listening to traditional Chinese classical music. I freakin’ love it, and it puts me in the right mood to write the more traditionalist ‘noble’ characters. For the younger, more modern characters, I’ve chosen DJ Tommy’s “Respect 4 Da Chopstick Hip-Hop”, which is a fantastic piece of work. I highly recommend it, and lament the fact that DJ Tommy and LMF’s stuff isn’t more readily available!

Anyway, best hit the hay, as I’ve got plenty of work to do tomorrow. Ah, bank holidays, a great chance to catch up on lost illustration time. See you all later!