Saturday, May 9, 2015

Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics #2: Metallica

It’s like VH-1’s Behind the Music but with 50% less entertainment

In the late 80’s, Revolutionary Comics came up with a revolutionary idea: unauthorized bio comics featuring popular rock and roll bands. A sure magnet for lawsuits (most notably by New Kids on the Block – how are they rock again?), their title Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics became so popular it got spin off series featuring Pink Floyd and Led Zepplin. There was even a documentary made about them called Unauthorized and Proud: Todd Loren’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics.

Never heard of them? Me neither. Seems that Mötley Crue and Bon Jovi blocked them from using standard distribution channels and these books ended up being sold almost exclusively in record stores. If there had been no legal fight causing publicity these books would have probably gone the way of the dodo by issue number 3. The art is poor and the “unauthorized” bios are very spare. Let’s take a standard panel featuring the introduction of James Hetfield:

I sure am glad the book is relying on stereotypes to get its message across. Note that the paper is almost newspaper quality. Metallica’s story runs 15 pages. Now I would have thought it would have been difficult to find that much material to write about the band before their Grammy win in 1991, the infighting while making The Black Album, Lar’s battle with online file sharing program Napster and their subsequent decline. I was right to think that.

What we get is the band taking advantage of all-you-can-eat salad bars:

Mustaine leaving to create Megadeath because of drunken argument:

and the death by bus accident of Bassist Cliff Burton:

Burton’s death did provide me with previously unknown information: If you’re in a band, your band mates get to determine what is done with your ashes.

Ending the band’s history in 1989 doesn’t do them justice. It seems the book was rushed out to take advantage of the market. A proper biographer would know not to end at the beginning. As for the rest of the comic, it’s made up of 6th grade humor strips that have no redeeming value at all. I’m dumber for having read them.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing! As crappy as the comic seems today, back in 1993 it was an interesting "insight" into how my favorite band came to be, even if half of it never happened lol.


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