Enrica Jang Headlines the 27 Club for Red Stylo’s Latest Anthology [Back Pages]
Twenty-Seven has become a legendary, tragic haunting number in the world of music over the years, as a number of the brightest and most talented artists to ever take to the stage all sadly passed away at that young age. From Jimi Hendrix to Amy Winehouse, Robert Johnson to Richey Edwards, the age has become synonymous with loss. For that very reason, 'The 27 Club' has reached a kind of mythic quality over time, with scholars, fans and artists all considering just what resulted in so many lights being extinguished so early in their careers.
It's also the focus of Red Stylo's fifth Kickstarter anthology in five years, 27, A Comic Anthology. Jumping deep into the mythos of the 27 Club thanks to editor Enrica Jang and a huge collection of writers and artists, the anthology will features stories about Hendrix, Joplin, Cobain, Jones and more. It's an intriguing premise for a comics anthology, so ComicsAlliance spoke to Jang about how she conceived it, and her plans for the book.
ComicsAlliance: What’s the basic premise of the anthology?
Enrica Jang: 27, A Comic Anthology is a collection of original comic art and stories inspired by music's infamous"27 Club", music artists who achieved musical stardom early and then died at the age of 27. The club includes greats like Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, among many others. The anthology contributors were challenged to take their favorite member of the club and use their music or lives as inspiration for a completely original story or vignette.
CA: What was it about the concept of the 27 Club that made you want to put a whole anthology together, as you've done here?
EJ: Well, just the idea of the club conspiracy is fertile ground for story ideas. Fame, death, immortality, numerology and rock-n-roll! The people that make up the club list were so very different in life, with music and then this grim thing in common. It gave us the room to go crazy with the themes and topics in the art, and still come together in a cohesive way. I think the best anthologies have a strong, recognizable theme that grounds a diverse collection of art. 27 Club is all that and more for us.
CA: What's the approach for each story? Is each story a biography of the life of, say, Hendrix, or will this see a mix of different story approaches?
EJ: The writers and artists were challenged to take their favorite member of the club, or their favorite song from a club member, and use them/it as inspiration for a completely original eight-page comic or vignette. Any music figure who died at 27 was a candidate (even the less well-known), and any genre or approach was fair game. One of the only hard and fast rules was no adaptations.
If a story is too close to the source material --- used lyrics, say, or named characters --- we had to say no to it. All the comics are original creations. The fun is when the story references something resonant or recognizable, but still twists it in a unique way.
CA: How did you find people to join you for the anthology? Who will be part of the project?
EJ: For five years running, Red Stylo has done an open call for artists and writers in January of each year. We announce the theme and make story selections by March. Then the writers and artists work like mad for six months. We release the book in October --- usually in time for New York Comic Con.
As for who's on it, we have fifty-four (i.e. 27 times two!) creators in this book. Jeremy Whitley, Jennie Wood, Erica Schultz, Chuck Harrison, Ken Eppstein, Alex Cormack, Brad Sun, Mario Candelaria... gosh, I will happily give you the whole list if you give me room here!
CA: What was the genesis of the project? How long have you wanted to get this up and running?
EJ: Last year, after having done three literary-themed anthologies, we changed direction and did a rock-themed anthology (Killer Queen, a comic anthology inspired by the discography of Queen.) It was so damn fun, we knew we wanted to do another rock-themed collection. Queen was special --- a band that is iconic, resonant for multiple generations, and beloved. I guess it took an entire club to match them!
In the case of the artistic pieces featuring the actual club members, we asked the artists to do original pieces and likenesses with a clear point of view. Some of my favorites are the faux-gig rock show posters --- they're what you'd imagine seeing on the wall of a music hall in Rock-n-roll Heaven. (Or Hell, depending on your brand of music mythology!)
CA: Why take this to Kickstarter?
EJ: This is our fifth anthology, but the first year we've planned a premium hardcover. The Rock Hard Edition on Kickstarter is a special edition hardcover, limited to 1000 signed and numbered copies. A hardcover requires a larger up-front investment than our past trade-paperback offerings.
Also as a platform, Kickstarter made perfect sense for this book because it taps into all spheres of the arts, not just comics. We wanted to give the book global reach.
CA: What stage are you at with the project? How much has already been completed?
EJ: Oh, the files are flying at me now, fast and furious! The stories are set, the artists are hard at work. We've got another month of work ahead of us, but I've been able to release previews of some pretty sweet pages and art as the artists send me pieces for review. It's all happening. I love it. #ROCKHARD or go home!
CA: If you achieve your goal, what’s your estimated delivery on the final anthology?
EJ: We do a digital rock-n-rollout of stories on redstylo.com beginning in September --- each story gets its own digital release. Then we'll be rocking New York Comic Con with the hardcover edition in October of this year!
27, A Comics Anthology will run on Kickstarter until 4 August 2015, looking for a target of $6000.