Death Becomes Her: The ‘Pretty Deadly’ Mixtape
Comics and music go hand in hand, and there’s nothing quite like putting on that perfect playlist, sitting down with a good story, and getting lost for a while. We’ve tasked our best writers with crafting the ultimate mixtape to compliment their favorite comics, to hopefully introduce you to comics you might not have tried and artists you might not have heard.
Pretty Deadly, by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Rios, and Jordie Bellaire, is a story about stories. It’s a fantasy western about Death’s daughter Ginny, but it’s truly a gorgeous, lyrical, epic poem about myth itself. And like traditional epic poems, there’s love, and death, and vengeance.
We’ve put together a Pretty Deadly mixtape with a vaguely “Americana” style, with songs whose lyrics contain grand narratives about death. Expect murder ballads galore.
I’m not sure if it’s the vocals or the song title or something else, but this song makes me think of the butterfly and the skeleton bunny that narrate the whole comic. Mountain Man’s voices sound like death floating on air.
(Don’t Fear) the Reaper
It’s a love song and a death song. These two themes underlie everything that’s happening in Pretty Deadly. Death is inevitable, and that’s a good thing. Death is how we appreciate life. As Fox says at one point in the comic, “It’s the dying that makes the living matter.”
The Dark Don’t Hide It
There’s something about Death that’s honest in a way that humans so rarely are. Death comes for everyone, he doesn’t play favorites, he just does what he does — or at least he’s supposed to.
Jason Molina, in his various bands, has a ton of beautiful narrative songs that I think would fit well, but the honesty of darkness and Death that he talks about in this one really remind me of the main struggle in Pretty Deadly.
Black River Killer
I feel like this playlist could be murder ballad after murder ballad, and Blitzen Trapper’s music makes me feel as good but distraught as Emma Rios’ art does. The lyrical content doesn’t totally match the story, but it does make use of the same river imagery that comes up in Pretty Deadly‘s first arc.
It’s hard to find murder ballads or vengeance songs by women that aren’t cheesy country songs about men cheating. In “Shotgun Blues” the narrator doesn’t go into specifics about why they want revenge, just that she’s ready to get it.
Where the Wild Roses Grow
Nick Cave is so good at finding that perfect balance between creepy and beautiful. the same atmosphere that Emma Rios and Jordie Bellaire create with their art and colors. This collaboration with Kylie Minogue reminds me of Beauty, Deathface Ginny’s mother, locked up by Death. He refuses to let her die out of his own selfishness, but Nick Cave knows: “And I kissed her goodbye, said, ‘All beauty must die’ / And leant down and planted a rose between her teeth.”
Tall Tall Shadow
We hear a part of Fox’s story at the beginning of Pretty Deadly, but as it unfolds over the course of the first arc we learn that he’s spent years and years running away from the consequences of his actions. Basia Bulat’s “Tall Tall Shadow” reminds me of Fox: “You’re running away / But the shadow is your own, your own.”
The first arc of Pretty Deadly ends with, well, Death’s death. “The Funeral” evokes complicated feelings about family and loss that remind me of Ginny and her father. This song is mournful, but not entirely sad. There’s still beauty and joy in death.
If you want to check out this mixtape at home or on the go, we’ve assembled a playlist of all the songs available on Spotify to make it even easier. Make sure to follow ComicsAlliance on Spotify and keep an eye out for more comics-themed playlists in the future.