Haunted Memories: The ‘Deadman: Dark Mansion Of Forbidden Love’ Mixtape [Music Week]
We at ComicsAlliance love comics, and we love music, so this week we’ve decided to combine those two loves and create playlist tributes to some of our favorite titles. Think of these as something to listen to while you read the comic, or an introduction to the vibe of a comic if you're not yet a fan.
Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love, by writer Sarah Vaughn and artist Lan Medina, is a book that does several things at once. It features Deadman, the heroic ghost of circus aerialist Boston Brand, which makes it in some sense a superhero book. It's also a horror comic, and specifically a haunted house story. But it's also a romance comic, about a young queer woman named Berenice, who lives with her boyfriend Nathan in the titular Dark Mansion, but is clearly developing reciprocated romantic feelings for her genderqueer friend Sam. But even as Berenice must sort out her love life, her lifelong ability to see and communicate with ghosts has gotten her mixed up with the spirits that reside in the mansion, as well as Deadman himself, who's arrived to investigate.
In assembling a playlist to accompany my favorite comic of the past year, I've attempted to strike a similar balance, highlighting queer artists, and including a love song or two, while creating a spooky, haunted atmosphere. This playlist incorporates dark mansions, and perhaps forbidden love, and at least one dead man.
Check out the track-by-track guide below, or listen along on the ComicsAlliance Spotify.
Please note some of these songs may not be safe to listen to in the workplace or in the presence of children!
A slow start to the playlist, perhaps. But atmosphere is so important to this comic, and this track really makes you feel like you're inside a haunted house. The entire Parlour Trick album is great haunted house music, in fact. As the first song from that album, this is the perfect entryway to the Dark Mansion.
Bianca Casady sings in what might be the voice of a ghost, creaky and inhuman. Her sister Sierra Casaday, the other half of CocoRosie, sings in a voice that sounds like a broadcast from a hundred years in the past. Together they process the incomprehensible experiences of childhood, an unnerving pursuit if ever there was one. Also it just sounds really spooky.
Hersh conflates dreams with reality, and blurs the line between being haunted by a past love and literally being haunted by a ghost. In that sense, it’s thematically similar to what Vaughn is doing in Deadman. Michael Stipe is the ghost who haunts this song, playing the Boston to Hersh’s Berenice.
With this track we delve even farther into musical history. Possibly the greatest rock song about being haunted, by one of our most haunted rock singers, Ian Curtis. If Deadman had his own television show, this would make a great theme song for it.
Let’s switch perspectives away from the dead. Babeo Baggins is a genderqueer artist, and this is a song about the messiness of expressing feelings for a woman who’s in a relationship with a man, from the point of view of someone who is both or neither. If Sam made Berenice a mix tape, this song would be on it.
But casting Berenice as the object of affection in “Daffodils” sells her short, so this song comes at the relationship from her perspective. St. Vincent is also a queer artist, and this is a song about pursuing a complicated relationship in which gender is both the simplest and most complicated factor. Complicated, in that we’re unsure of Prince Johnny’s gender (and perhaps the speaker’s), but simple in that it’s a non-issue.
But what is love in the face of death? I like to think that the contrast between contemporary queer artists and classic gloomy post-punk on this playlist reflects the dynamic between Berenice and Deadman. And this is absolutely another Deadman song.
I wanted the playlist to end like it begins, with a mood piece. This song predates Claire Boucher’s interest in comprehensible lyrics, and her ethereal voice passes through you like a ghost, as if trying to tell you something you can’t quite understand. But the beat is propulsive, and the overall effect, while still haunting, is as upbeat as I want the ending of Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love to be.
If you want to check out these songs 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 comic themed playlists this week.