A great story and great art demand great music.
Angel Catbird Vol. 1, Margaret Atwood’s much-ballyhooed debut in the world of comics, was published this week by Dark Horse. But what is a graphic novel without the graphic?
Enter top-flight illustrator Johnnie Christmas. And to give Angel Catbird even more dimension, Christmas has curated a Spotify playlist inspired by the book. Check out the list, then the link at the bottom.
And as you go, enjoy some of the outstanding artwork produced by Christmas and colorist Tamra Bonvillain…
The Supermen, by David Bowie. This “strange, mad celebration” is great morning music when rendering the “wonderous beings” of Angel Catbird. In The Supermen, David Bowie and his band strides, surefooted across a monstrously delicious sonic landscape.
Mean Streets, by Tennis. From the Small Sound EP comes Tennis’ Mean Streets. I don’t know if they actually use a harpsichord at the end of the song but it sure sounds like it.
Nobody’s Empire, by Belle and Sebastian. Belle and Sebastian got their name from Cécil Aubry’s novel Belle et Sébastien. A novel about a boy and his …dog! Now Half-Cats are probably not the biggest fans of canines, but they do love upbeat tunes. You can’t do better than Belle and Sebastian in that regard.
Dunes, by Alabama Shakes. The lyrics for Dunes have the brevity and poetry of the saddest goodbye note that was ever tacked to a fridge. Alabama Shakes’ intoxicating mix of pathos and tight songcraft reach new heights on their Sound and Color album. Plus the sound quality is astonishing.
Femme Fatale, by Aloe Blacc. Here we have Aloe Blacc’s rendition of Femme Fatale. This song is a hypnotic baptism, dripping with soul and purpose. It makes me think of the insecurity Strig feels in regards to Cate Leone. “You’re written in her book/ You’re number 37 have a look.” Cate’s made it clear to Strig that she’s not a one cat kinda gal.
You’re Too Weird, by Fruit Bats. The whole world of Half-Cats is way weird for Strig. Plus the jealousy, uncertainty and gene-splicing fluid is putting the poor fella through all kinds of changes.
Black Circle, by Trailer Trash Tracys. I love the dreamy, falling feel of this song. At first Strig falls deeper and deeper into his new world until he makes the choice to enter it willingly.
Disparate Youth, by Santigold. Santigold has got to be one of the coolest artists there is. This song feels like driving under a gathering storm, when suddenly sunlight spills out of the clouds.
When I Grow Up, by First Aid Kit. This beautiful slice of Americana was born of Scandinavia. First Aid Kit (a Swedish duo) cover Fever Ray’s (a Swedish electronic artist) single.
Same Ol’ Mistakes, by Rihanna. During a short break between drawing volumes 1 and 2 of Angel Catbird, I got the chance to do a promo tour in France. At the time I was heavily immersed in Rihanna’s ANTI album. Every time I hear Same Ol’ Mistakes I feel like I’m walking the streets of Paris again.
Let Her Go, by Mac DeMarco. On Let Her Go, Mac DeMarco grafts the West African high-life sound over an upbeat pop parable.
Better Man, by Leon Bridges. I’ve been playing Leon Bridges’ brilliant debut album on repeat for a year now. His live show is super impressive too, the stage lightings especially (trust me, it really is). “Better Man” Strig has to rise to the level of a hero if he ever hopes to get into Cate’s heart.
Crush, by Sleigh Bells. So many crushes in this book. Crushes flying all over the place. On the wings of ravens, on the wings of catbirds. Sleigh Bells turns the declaration of affection on Crush into a stadium anthem.
Wishes, by Beach House. Beach House deliberately adds layer on layer of rhythm and melody over their measured meditation. But when the drum machine gives way to live drums, the facade of emotional remove on Wishes starts to come down. All without ever losing its state of grace.
To access the playlist on Spotify, click here.
A graduate of the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Johnnie Christmas makes Vancouver, B.C., his home. Johnnie was born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico and grew up in Miami. In 1998, he moved to New York to finish the last two years of art school at Pratt. In 2009, he to moved Vancouver after his wife’s cancer diagnosis and he’s lived there ever since. What else? Although he’s drawing Angel Catbird, Johnnie himself is more of a dog person! He’s also passionate about connecting with young readers. He’s funny and charming; in short, he’s a great interview. He is also the co-creator of the critically acclaimed Image Comics series Sheltered; the creator, writer and artist of Firebug, serialized in Island Magazine; and the co-creator of the sci-fi series Pisces.