This Damned Band

Paul Cornell, script; Tony Parker, art; Lovern Kindzierski, colors

Dark Horse Books, 2016

Compiles Cornell and Parker's six issue miniseries about the rock band Motherfather that uses Satanism as a marketing ploy...or so they think. Things suddenly get real when Satan himself shows up in their dressing room, an event which everyone involved remembers differently (the lead guitarist persists in visualizing Satan as Santa Claus). But that's not the worst of it. Everything suddenly goes to hell: tensions in the band threaten to break it up; relationships crumble; groupies go missing; French gangsters show up to collect drug money at gunpoint; and the group's longtime producer and recording engineer are discovered dead by hanging.

It turns out someone close to the band has been in league with Lucifer all along. That surprise reveal is followed by chaos at the last big concert of the tour--and then a different deal with the devil is struck.The whole story is told from the perspective of a documentary film crew, which recalls the approach taken in the 2000 film "Almost Famous." There's no journalist here, but the groupies and the one married band member are both similar. The setting is the 1970s: the look of the band probably takes inspiration from both Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath (obvious occult marketing connection there), and there's gang violence on audience members at the concert that directly mirrors the famous Rolling Stones concert at Altamont.

None of which detracts from the distinct characters created for this story. Parker has a classic illustration style, especially well suited to facial expressions. In fact the characters sometimes seem to be mugging for the camera a bit, which suits the dark comedy atmosphere. He has fun doing the "artist's impression" of some scenes where the cameras weren't present--in an exaggerated simple cartoon style.

It's a fun series, especially recommend to fans of the film "This Is Spinal Tap." It's darker than that, but almost as funny in spots. The back matter includes some great faux-history: a discography (with album covers and interview excerpts); a coupon for a Motherfather t-shirt; and best of all, a Pete Frame-style rock family tree of the band and its predecessors.

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That's pretty interesting, Mark. I read the first issue when it came out and passed on the series, thinking it was something I wouldn't enjoy. But the stuff you mention that happens later in the series sounds pretty good. I'll give it a second chance.

I'll admit I'm a sucker for comics with a musical theme: they don't come along very often. Since this one is also horror, it's a winner for me. If it were a DC comic I could imagine John Constantine making a cameo.

Whereas I am not usually interested when comics try to incorporate pop music. It's different parts of my brain or something. 

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