When they're not busy rocking out, more than a few well-known musicians dabble in a different kind of art: comic books. Here are 10 crooners, rappers, and musicians who have written their own.
1. My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way
Most widely considered the best comic book written by a musician is My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way’s The Umbrella Academy. First released as a six-issue miniseries in 2007, it was such a surprise hit that it soon spawned a follow-up series with more planned for the future. (It also won a coveted Eisner Award for best limited series.) The Umbrella Academy is about a family of super-powered siblings who have grown into dysfunctional adults and must reunite to save the world (think: X-Men meets Wes Anderson). With wonderfully stylized artwork by Casanova artist Gabriel Bá, Way completely nails the high-concept superhero drama that readers usually look to more established writers, such as Grant Morrison or Matt Fraction, for.
2. Coheed and Cambria's Claudio Sanchez
Coheed and Cambria lead singer Claudio Sanchez is no stranger to the world of comics. He began his popular series The Amory Wars back in 2000 (although it initially went by the odd title The Bag.On.Line Adventures). A science fiction epic that has now spawned multiple volumes, as well as a novel co-written by Sanchez and comic book writer Peter David, it tells the story of Coheed and Cambria Kilgannon and their messianic son Claudio. Sanchez has also told this story through the band’s music, with each album they’ve released matching a volume of the comic in both title and theme.
Recently, Sanchez and his wife Chondra Echert wrote a new six-issue series for Boom! Studios called Translucid, a superhero story about the never-ending battle between The Navigator and his arch-nemesis The Horse.
3. Low's Zak Sally
These days, Zak Sally, who left indie band Low in 2005, is perhaps better known for his comics than for his bass guitar skills. Sally has written and drawn three volumes of the surreal Sammy the Mouse, first published through Fantagraphics and now self-published (with some Kickstarter help) through his own micro-press La Mano. But the weirdness of Sammy the Mouse is nothing compared to his two-time Eisner Award nominated series Recidivist. The latest volume of Recidivist is sold on the La Mano website with a warning from Sally that "if you feel like you are ordering something normal, you need to know that you are not … This book is NOT for everyone.”
4. Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello
Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello wrote a 12-issue dystopian science fiction series called Orchid, which mixed zombies and monsters with the messages of political and social justice typical of Morello’s music. Artist Scott Hepburn helped bring Morello’s story to life; Morello even created a downloadable soundtrack to listen to as you read the comic. Orchid has received a fair amount of positive reaction from readers but based on what he's said in interviews, it doesn't seem as though Morello is itching to get back into comic writing any time soon.
5. Percy Carey (a.k.a. M.F. Grimm)
Percy Carey, the underground rapper known as M.F. Grimm, told his life story (with the help of artist Ronald Wimberly) in the 2007 Eisner Award nominated graphic novel Sentences: The Life of M.F. Grimm. Carey’s life story is certainly graphic novel-worthy, starting with his childhood career as one of the children on Sesame Street to ghostwriting for Dr. Dre to losing the use of his legs after he was shot seven times by a rival drug dealer.
6. Say Anything's Max Bemis
Max Bemis is the lead singer of the emo rock band Say Anything and has also been busy building up a substantial resume as a comic book writer, including a 2013 issue of the Marvel comic A+X (starring Spider-Man and Magneto). His latest comic, Oh, Killstrike, was released just this week from Boom! Studios and is a collaboration with up-and-coming artist Logan Faerber. It’s a sitcom-esque story about a reformed superhero comic collector named Jared who wants to sell a back issue of a ‘90s-era comic called Killstrike on eBay. That is, until the titular Killstrike comes to life and disrupts Jared’s plans.
7. Rob Zombie
Rob Zombie is something of a renaissance man. The former lead singer of the band White Zombie, he is also a successful director of horror films, an occasional actor, a producer, and a comic book writer. Some of his works include Spookshow International, The Nail, Bigfoot, and The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, which later inspired an animated film of the same name. His most recent comic, Whatever Happened to Baron Von Shock, was a four-issue series for Image Comics about the host of a horror television show.
8. Tyrese Gibson
Tyrese Gibson, the R&B singer and actor who goes by the mononym Tyrese, wrote a three-issue comic book series in 2009 for Image Comics called Mayhem!, about a vigilante who steals from criminals to fund his war against crime. Unlike a lot of celebrities who jump into comics, Gibson seemed to be a genuine fan of the medium. Unfortunately, his comic wasn't much of a success. It gained some publicity at the time—mostly due to Gibson’s aggressive and defensive marketing tactics, which led to an online war with comic book retailer and columnist Brian Hibbs over the comic's viability in stores. This led to the very public resignation of the comic’s marketing director, the aforementioned Percy Carey. Like many of the people on this list, Gibson released a song meant to accompany the comic; it was even sold on iTunes with a motion-comic edition of his tale.
9. The Go-Go's Jane Wiedlin
Jane Wiedlin, guitarist for the classic female rock group The Go-Go’s, tried her hand at comic book writing in 2010 with a “space opera” called Lady Robotika, illustrated by Bongo Comics co-creator Bill Morrison. Wiedlin cast herself as the hero who gets abducted by aliens and injected with nanobots intended to turn her into a slave. Instead, she becomes a super-powered cyborg who fights to liberate other slaves from the evil extraterrestrials. But after only two issues, it seems Wiedlin abandoned the project.
10. Hole's Courtney Love
Hole lead singer Courtney Love created the character Princess Ai because she wanted to see herself as a manga heroine. Love provided the plot, some character designs, and the overall inspiration for this manga series about a female rock star whose life is pretty similar to her own. (“Ai,” incidentally, is the Japanese word for “love.") The book was released in 2004 by TokyoPop and was actually written by TokyoPop CEO Stuart Levy under his pen name “D.J. Milky.” If you're not a Courtney Love fan, the selling point of this book is definitely the artwork, done by acclaimed manga artist Ai Yazawa (also a pen name).