We are very excited to bring you a preview of the comic Brainless God based off of Direct Hit!'s album of the same name. The comic was illustrated by Wall of Youth artist Eric Baskauskas, who also designed the cover art for the Brainless God album as well as many other pieces of art for Direct Hit!. The comic is included in the recently released Brainless God box set that also includes a two-color silkscreened box, red clear vinyl and a DVD containing the music videos for the album. You can view the latest video, "Back To The Tower," here.
Eric and Direct Hit! lead singer Nick Woods shared some information on the creation of the comic
How did the idea for a comic come about? Nick Woods: I sorta thought up the idea when we were out east in 2012 on one of our first few short tours. The idea for a concept album came up first. Then the movie thing came up. And then it was "Well, what if we do the movie without a soundtrack or dialogue, and you have to follow a book to know what's happening? Like an opera playbill or something?" That idea proved pretty stupid, and we ended up basically just making a half-hour long music video, but the comic book idea stuck around because I was reading a lot of those at the time. I really had no idea how much work it would be or anything though. So Eric kind of had to come up with the idea for how it would look and feel, and how we could print it and stuff -- He can talk about that better than I. I don't really think it's a comic book straight up… It's more like a cross between a comic book and a zine and a lyric book. Or something. I dunno, I think it's a really unique piece of that box set. Definitely really excited about how it came out.
Eric Baskauskas: Nick's right, he really had no idea how much work it would be or anything. But I did and yet I still said yes when he told me he wanted to release the new album in this insane way. I guess he had me at â€œconcept record about the end of the world.â€
Does the comic correlate with the video series? Nick: Yeah, I think so. Obviously given the fact that we had so little money to make the movie, there was a lot more from our brains that we could dump onto a page than onto a screen. Basically I think Eric was able to get a lot more creative with it because he wasn't constrained by time, or other people's schedules, or money or anything like that. Would you agree, Eric?
Eric: Yeah, we tried to make the book and videos complement each other and play to the strengths of their respective forms. The original concept, as you said, was a comic book, but really the bigger idea was a box set that included a record, a movie and a book. I didn't want any piece in the set to feel redundant. I figured pretty early on that a traditional comic book narrative format might not be the ideal way to go -- we were already putting together a fairly coherent story with the movie. Hence the hybrid form Nick mentioned. There was an opportunity to let the two things have more of a push-and-pull relationship. The book props up the narrative where the movie can't, like having a half-dead shadow dude jump on a slide from heaven back down to Earth with a magic axe in his hand. Meanwhile the movie is a bit better suited to capturing the charactersâ€™ emotions and personalities and a whole shitload of fake blood. Then thereâ€™s some overlap to make sure itâ€™s all grounded in the same pre-apocalyptic universe. No single element of the set is definitive. It all comes together in a diverse experience that's hopefully got some replay value.
Eric, you do most of Direct Hit!â€™s art. How different is the creative process for a comic than creating a flyer, shirt design, album art, etc? Eric: With shirts and flyers and smaller stuff like that sometimes Nick will come to me with an idea and itâ€™s my job to put it together. Other times heâ€™ll just say â€œwe need a poster for a tour, do something coolâ€ and then I get to run with it. Either way, itâ€™s pretty loose and fun.
Brainless God was more or less a hybrid of those two working methods but on a much larger scale. I knew from the outset that the plan was to present the album as the box set as well as traditional CD and LP packaging. Nick gave me demos and lyrics and his general idea for what the story was all about, and then it was up to me to start figuring out how each of the different pieces was going to work together. There was never really a point where the creative process for one specific element was isolated from the others. There was definitely a lot more planning involved -- probably the biggest difference. Usually with the smaller projects Iâ€™ll make the art, run it by Nick, and then make adjustments based on his comments. For Brainless God we actually collaborated a lot more before I started working on anything. Once we agreed on a direction for everything there was very little revision. I like to think that allows that sense of looseness to still shine through what was really a massive undertaking.
Were there any major influences on the story behind Brainless God? Nick: Not really. I mean, my own personal ideas about religion, and life and death, and shit like that work their way in. But it was more just a play off the first song I wrote for it, which was about this battered woman killing her husband because she didn't feel like he deserved to die in the apocalypse. She wanted him to get it worse. Things just kind of went from there… Like, I just kind of asked, "Well, what happens next?" And each time I'd finish writing a song I'd just ask the same question again. Writing was a bit different this time around because usually we write an album's worth of music, and then I write the lyrics afterward. For Brainless God, I didn't move on to the next song until the previous one was finished, both music and lyrics. The track listing got rearranged a little bit at the end, but that was pretty much it. Talk to Eric about his influences though. His work definitely influenced how the story went, at least in subtle ways, because he was open about what we could and couldn't achieve with all of this stuff. Or what would be cool to look at, and what wouldn't be.
Eric: I donâ€™t ever remember saying that having a girl chop a dude up into bits was something we could achieve! Dylan Brown (director of the videos) gets all the credit for figuring out that pool noodles look like legs when you put â€˜em in pants. Thatâ€™s a great example of what I was talking about. Originally I wanted to be all artsy and use symbolism for that part, like having her grilling some super-bloody steaks in the backyard or something, and then use the book to showcase whatâ€™s really happening with some graphic, gory illustrations of her chopping up her husband. Once we mastered those bargain-basement special effects, though, it was clear that the book no longer needed to work too hard for that part of the story. The video does the job. I keep thinking about the insert for Dookie that I looked at thousands of times as a kid. Contrasting with the chaotic, dense cover art, just a few simple illustrations next to the lyrics set the tone for the entire album. Itâ€™s perfect. I think thereâ€™s probably a little bit of Dookie in everything I do. Sorry.