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A badass rock ‘n’ roller skeleton guides fans through indie-roots-rock band Jack the Radio’s latest album, “Creatures,” in frontman George Hage’s new comic book, “Jack The Radio Creatures Anthology.” Each of the book’s 14 chapters are dedicated to one of the songs from the album with narration based on or taken directly from the lyrics, also written by Hage.
Throughout the chapters, the skeleton, Jack the Radio, journeys through made-up worlds created by 30 talented illustrators and colorists from 14 different countries, comprising Jack’s “cosmic-country-fried past, present and future.” Hage liked the idea of making the main character a skeleton because “we are all skeletons underneath our external identities,” he says. “My hope is that with the music and the dialogue in the comic, people can see a little bit of themselves in the character and see some of their experiences in the stories.”
A longtime comic book lover, Hage was inspired to create “Creatures Anthology” by the album’s title track, “Creatures,” and the song “Don’t Count Me Out,” each of which have a beginning, middle and end to a story Hage says he thought would be cool to visualize in sequential comics.
Hage says he approached the project more as a writer, curator and ultimately designer of the comic book, while letting the participating artists run free with the scripts he wrote. Hage says he was a big fan of most of the illustrators he reached out to to participate in the comic; many have been working in the comic book industry for years.
“Honestly, they had more expertise than I did,” Hage says, jokingly. “So I definitely leaned on them as well.”
With the comic book and album together, Hage has created a multi-dimensional experience. Fans of Jack the Radio’s music get the dimension of visuals and the tactile experience of holding a book while being able to read along and see how the artists have illustrated and created this new world based on the album.
“The songs are living in it,” says Hage. On the other hand, comic book lovers get a soundtrack to the pages. “Ultimately, I hope it forces people to slow down a little bit and enjoy,” Hage adds.
Both the “Creatures” album and anthology revolve around persevering through the ups and downs of life, a theme that’s especially timely with everything going on in the world. Although the album was written before COVID and the Black Lives Matter protests taking place around the country, Hage says it’s great people are able to connect to the comic book and album on a deeper level.
“Art is powerful and it’s something that can help us through the tough times,” Hage says. “I hope, in a way, that people can read this [comic book] or listen to the record and find some enjoyment, find some companionship and hopefully feel a little bit better.”
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