Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Indie publisher Z2 Comics is taking a unique approach to comic books by combining an original soundtrack of songs with a rock'n'roll noir graphic novel.  MURDER BALLADS, available in July, is about the fall and reinvention of Nate Theodore, the dead-broke and deadbeat owner of a failing record label who is on a cross-country drive in the dead of winter, fleeing the wreckage of his business and trying to save his crumbling marriage. Nate is given an unexpected chance to reverse his fortunes when, during a stop in a desolate rust belt town, he "discovers" Donny and Marvell Fontweathers, two African-American brothers who play a raucous brand of doom-laden country blues.  Written by Gabe Soria with artwork by Paul Reinwand, MURDER BALLADS will be priced at $24.95 and will include downloadable codes for songs by bluesman Robert Finley and Dan Auerback, the singer/guitarist of the Grammy-Award winning rock band The Black Keys.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the unglamorous side of music making,” noted MURDER BALLADS writer Gabe Soria. “Accounts of glorious obscurities and the characters working the fringes…that’s my meat and potatoes right there, the stuff that has nothing to do with fame and everything to do with love, obsession and compulsion to MAKE. I dig stories about people who are just trying to get by making music on their own terms, and about the unusual and beautiful and tragic ways music can be woven into the fabric of our lives, whether it’s through someone playing sad piano in a dive bar, a one-hit wonder on a transistor radio, a bootleg blues record, or whatever."

The MURDER BALLADS Original Soundtrack will include Finley and Auerbach's cover of the classic Leadbelly song "In the Pines."  The duo also perform four original songs on the soundtrack, "Bang Bang", "Butter Sandwich", "The Empty Arms" and "Three Jumpers," that Finley and Auerback created specifically to accompany the graphic novel's story.

Robert Finley and Dan Auerbach

Z2 has also partnered with Mondo, an art gallery and online store devoted to a passionate love of film, art, music and toys, to release a limited edition of the graphic novel with the soundtrack included as a 10" vinyl record.  It will feature original album cover art by Jon Langford, the acclaimed visual artist best known for his striking portraits of country and rock music icons including Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley.  This limited edition package will be available for $200 at

This graphic novel combines two of my favorite pastimes, reading comics and listening to the blues, so I'm really looking forward to checking out its illustrations and listening to the tunes accompanying the story by Finley and Auerbach.  Keep an eye out for this gritty combo at comic book stores this summer.  If you miss out on picking up MURDER BALLADS this summer, you'll probably be disappointed in yourself for not buying it.

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