The People You Are Not – Phonogram: The Singles Club #5

The cover to Phonogram: The Singles Club #5
Not sure what this is advertising but I’m listening…

From Series: Phonogram: The Singles Club

What Happened:

Laura Heaven feels bad and you should too. So you will. Because she is a magic person.

Laura Heaven is a phonomancer (person who can use music for magic) but got the short end of the stick when it comes to fantastical powers. While her friend Penny B can charm nearly anyone with her dancing, Laura is just a concoction of all the music and pop culture she has taken in. She constantly quotes her favorite band The Long Blondes both in conversation and in narration. This makes her less of an original flavor of taffy and more of a smooshed ball of all the taffy flavors she enjoys.

Probably the biggest bummer of all, Laura is self aware enough to recognize and hate these limitations in herself. Not restricted to self hatred though, Laura turns her cynical eye on everyone in her life. Most of all on her best friend Penny. Penny is happy, loved by all, and charming. Laura hides her self-cutting and insecurities with long sleeves and sarcasm. Best friends don’t always make sense.

Their night is laser focused on getting Penny and her newly-single crush Marquis to dance and hook up at the club. Penny’s phonomancer powers come from dancing, so she’s pretty confident about her chances with Marquis in the dance club. Laura willfully (but not excitedly) goes along with the plan while feeling like no one would ever pick her for a dance/hook-up/conversation. She considers herself the perpetual “second choice”. And hey, look at that, another bummer because Laura wants to get with everyone at the club. Everyone.

This neediness depresses her.

Depression may have many cures but I was surprised to learn running into Dark Aster in the bathroom was one of them. Aster, the probably-evil-but-we-love-her-anyway phonomancer Coven leader sees Laura for who she really is and does not judge her. Aster laughs at Laura’s posturing and lets her know “You’re a bad person. That’s not so bad.” This alleviates some of Laura’s need to be like Penny, some of her need to be like anyone else, and all of her need for other people.

After everyone at the club has coupled up and gone home, Laura and Lloyd (Logos) share a taxi. Lloyd being Marquis hanger-on gives Laura a sense of camaraderie. When he tells her his plans for a band and she deduces that he’s about to ask her to be the singer. She also realizes she would be his second choice and then she surprises them both by leaving the taxi, with new magic forming in her eyes.

What I Learned From this Issue:

Quoting the movie Airplane to people can result in profanity.

The Creators:
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Jamie McKelvie
Colorist: Matthew Wilson

Who’s Flying This Party Plane? – Phonogam: The Singles Club #4

The cover to Phonogram: The Singles Club #4
Time Magazine’s haircut issue.
From Series: Phonogram: The Singles Club

What Happened:

At the dance club where the rules are:

1. You must dance.
2. No boy singers
3. No Magic

Seth Bingo and Silent Girl have arrived to do their DJ duties. Seth is hyper opinionated about every musical request he receives. He also is capable of holding major hyperbolic grudges against everyone in the room while at the same time being 100 percent willing to spend quality time with them. Silent Girl on the other hand just seems pretty chill. Chiiiiiill.

For instance, when Penny B tries using her charm magic to get Seth to play The Pipettes (In the process breaking rule number 3: No Magic, and the unspoken rule number 4: Seth hates you) Seth screams at her for having poor taste. In the meantime, Silent Girl puts The Pipettes into the music queue because she likes them.

Another example, when David Kohl makes a request Seth yells at him for having bad taste in music. Again, Silent Girl puts the song in the queue. BECAUSE IT’S KIND OF THEIR JOB.

Anyway, their night is pretty uneventful. They are observers of everyone else’s drama. The biggest point of concern for them was when no body was dancing in the club. THIS CANNOT HAPPEN. It was fortunately quickly resolved by the fool proof solution of playing Blondie.

Seth gets caught up in the performance of being a DJ when Silent Girl tells him to be her pea in a pod and mimic her chiiiiillness. Just relax Seth. You guys are here to play music and make people have fun.

At the end of the night, David helps them unload their music and shares a taxi with them after his two friends Emily and Kid With Knife has left him to have sex with strangers.

What I Learned From This Comic:

Jamie McKelvie’s Ctrl+C Ctrl+V game is strong.

The Creators:
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Jamie McKelvie
Colorist: Matthew Wilson

Black Magic Washes Away The Goth – Phonogram: The Singles Club #3

The cover to Phonogram: The Singles Club #3
A new haircut and a new attitude! That’s all you need to turn your life around! And a lot of dark magic! That’s all you need!
From Series: Phonogram: The Singles Club

What Happened:

Emily Aster does not want to go to the club with her friend and fellow Phonomancer (music wizard) David Kohl. David promises the club will not be terrible, because the music is only allowed to have female singers. It will probably be a little bit bad though, because it is an indie club. Regardless, this tiny lifeboat of hope somehow coxes Emily into going to the club.

She’s a little peeved to learn the DJ is Seth, a man she hates. Seth also hates her. They’re two peas in a pod! Seth hates Emily because she stole his girlfriend from him. Emily hates Seth because Emily hates people for petty reasons. Seth is still pretty cool about the whole thing and offers to play requests for David and Emily. Emily and Seth manage to insult each other over the popularity of her request then Emily runs off victorious.

Emily feels GREAT about how awful she was! Before, when she was different, she would let Seth walk all over her and get under her skin. She just doesn’t care about that stuff now. Now that she’s changed.

Because she HAS changed.

When Emily goes to the bathroom she doesn’t see herself as she is in the mirror but instead the version of herself she banished to limbo with her phonomancy magic. That version was depressed, cut herself, listened to bands like Garbage, and was very very very very 90’s. Now that that version is threatening to return. This startles the newer, more chic Emily. She never wants to be that type of person again and is willing to fight to make sure she does not.

Emily then successfully freaks out another girl in the bathroom by using her phonomancer magic to know the song that was playing on the radio when she was in a car crash which killed her brother. So lets not root too hard for Emily to win this battle! She doesn’t approve of the song, either.

She dances with David and his friend Kid With Knife in the club. They are eye-balled and gossiped about by clubbers in the know (David made a name for himself by killing a God a while back). Then Emily, discovering she hates the club now, decides to do something the old her never would: sleep with a stranger. This turns into a symbolic and literal middle finger to her banished self.

What I Learned From This Comic:

You really don’t want to listen to LL Cool Jay in the car.

The Creators:
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Jamie McKelvie
Colorist: Matthew Wilson

Phonogram: The Singles Club #2

The cover to Phonogram: The Singles Club #2
Uh oh! That lady that lives in your heard and control everything with computers and pulleys wants me to come inside. Must be a kink in one of pipes she blows air into to make your eyebrows go up and down.

From Series: Phonogram: The Singles Club

What Happened:

Two phonomancers, Marc and Lloyd, are hanging out before heading to the dance club. Marc hasn’t been there for a while because of his recent break up with a girlfriend. Lloyd is angry that he’s still thinking about her.

Llyod is angry about a lot of stuff though so we shouldn’t take too much notice of this. He’s angry nobody understands how incredibly genius his naughty word pop cover band idea is. He’s angry nobody calls him by his self appointed nickname “Mr. Logos”. He’s angry he’s the only one going to a dance club dressed for success (a suit). Lloyd’s a real fun guy!

Anyway, they get to the club where Lloyd promises to further explain his plan on making an awful Insane Clown Posse version of Weird Al Yankovic BUT SERIOUS. Before this nightmare can begin they bump into fellow phonomancers Penny B and Laura Evans (Laura Heaven). Penny asks Marc for a dance and he agrees to for later in the night. Penny runs off to DANCE LIKE THE WORLD DEPENDS UPON IT and then Laura aggressively hits on Marc. Marc is pretty weirded out by this pretty obvious betrayal of the sisterhood but moves along.

Then Marc’s phonomancer powers kick in. A phonomancer is a type of wizard. But instead of magic, they can use music. Marc’s phonomancer powers seem to be based on memories tied to music. He’s shown the first time he met his ex girlfriend on the dance floor while he talks to an avatar version of her in the vision. After her eyes turn black in the memory Marc suspects that she cursed him with her own Phonomancer powers. She denies this but, she’s just a memory avatar. You can’t take their word for nothing!

The avatar scolds him for being boring during their introduction. To be fair: he does seem boring. They dance until a lame song plays during which point they go have sex in the bathroom until a fun song comes on. It’s a very efficient system! No time wasted! Gross bathroom sex!

The avatar gets upset that Mark doesn’t believe her when she says she wouldn’t have done this with anyone else in the club. Man, these two kids are really hitting it off. “Did you curse me?” “You were boring.” “Would you have had sex with anyone that night?”

No idea why they couldn’t make things work between them.

Mark tries to end the vision by jumping the vision of their relationship towards the last fight they have, but the avatar forces him back towards the first meeting because that’s more fun. At this point, Penny B approaches him and asks him if he’d like to have that dance he promised her. Marc’s still in his vision though. Seeing his ex girlfriend dance with a younger version of himself he admits he does not want to dance with Penny.

What I learned from this comic:

A god was murdered and some people just don’t care.

The Creators:
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Jamie McKelvie
Colorist: Matthew Wilson

Phonogram: The Singles Club #1

The cover to Phonogram: The Singles Club #1
Turn around white eyes.
From Series: Phonogram: The Singles Club

What Happened:

Penny B introduces her self to the reader and starts walking you through what she’s convinced will be a fun night. But first: the girl’s gotta dance.

Just a skosh, just a teensy tiny bit, to hold her off until later. Penny’s a Phonomancer after all, which means she can tap into the music and use it like magic. Penny’s specialty is dancing. The attention is gives her, how much fun she has doing it with her friends, and the influence she can have over people are all components of this power.

Her best friend Laura Evans (aka Laura Heaven) arrives. Laura is a stark contradiction to the cheerful Penny. She dresses in layers and replies to most things Penny says with a sardonic reply. Laura is also a phonomancer but Penny is unable to explain her powers to us. Great. Thanks. You’re doing a wonderful job as the narrator of this story Penny.

At the club, which Penny insists is the BEST club, Laura and her discuss the possibility of Marc showing up. Marc’s on the rebound after a bad break up and Penny has her eyes on him. She knows if she can get him to dance with her she will have it on lock. Her cutting of his rug will be all that’s needed for… smooches? Probably smooches.

Penny will need the perfect song though. After requesting Pull Shapes by the Pipettes to the DJ’s Seth Bingo and Silent Girl, Penny is screamed at for having bad taste in music. She apparently doesn’t know enough of music or it’s context to get the approval of the Seth and she runs off upset.

She sees Marc leaning against a wall and asks him to dance but he declines. The upsets her further and she tries to find Laura. Only Laura is hiding from her.

Then friend of Marc, Lloyd yells at her for being shallow and not liking music the way he thinks it should be liked. Things are reaching a boiling point for Penny.

But then Pull Shapes starts playing.

Nothing else matters. Penny wants to dance. Not for the attention, or to dance with friends, or to influence people but just for the raw joy of it. David Kohl and Emily Aster watch on approvingly. Llyod watches in shock. Laura watches in awe. Seth looks repulsed he had to play this song.

What I Learned From This Comic:

Sometimes a childhood first memory is unintentionally terrifying.

The Creators:
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Jamie McKelvie
Colorist: Matthew Wilson

Phonogram #6

From Series: Phonogram

What Happened:

The cover to Phonogram #6
When Halloween comes around it’s hard to find three affordable costumes for triplets, so you do what you can.

David Kohl, our plucky hero and Phonomancer (a wizard, but with music instead of magic), has failed. He was trying to stop the resurrection of Britannia, the goddess of Brit-pop and his own source of power. Because David’s origin is tied to Britannia, any changes done to her will rewrite his past. David’s a pretty self absorbed guy so he doesn’t trust anyone besides himself to manage his past.

But, as noted, he is too late. Britannia has been resurrected and in full god mode. After trying to escape, David is neatly snatched by Britannia and her worshipers. The worshipers beg Britannia for their youth to be restored after reviving her and she grants this. Crow feet disappear. Beer guts vanish. Hair lines proceed (reverse of recede). They’re all looking twenty something and snappy. David is almost tempted by gift of a second youth to join them, but turns down the offer.

So Britannia is going to use him as a sacrifice to… herself I guess. Not sure if that’s how sacrifices work, but everything in here is wacky to begin with so lets not nit pick.

David points out to Britannia though that she has already come back to life once. Returning from the dead once makes a thing a legend. She’s now back a third time, which will ruin the first two and make her unimportant as a whole. He also points out that she is currently a zombie. She seems to notice her rotting flesh for the first time and allows herself to pass on again, taking the lives of her followers with her. She is a fickle thing.

This satisfies the Goddess who sent him on the quest to find Britannia and she removes his curse of bad musical taste. Celebrating with Emily Aster over drinks, David realizes he’s done something good for once. He heads off to do another.

Where he last saw her, David (wearing his Memory Kingdom, brit-pop outfit from issue 4) confronts the ghost of Beth. Beth’s ghost (Real Beth is not dead) is waiting for Richey James Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers. David agrees to show her where he is and leads her to the bridge where Richey vanished. Telling Beth that the bridge is as much of Richie’s identity as his music now, Ghost Beth gets excited and leaps off the Bridge. David isn’t sure he did the right thing here but he hopes it’ll fix any problems the real Beth was having.

He meets up with Kid With Knife and stresses again how unimportant all this work for pop music has really been.

Back at her house, Beth remembers the lyrics to a Maniacs song on the radio while lying in bed with her husband.

What I Learned From This Comic:

You can talk a ghost into doing almost anything.

The Creators:
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Jamie McKelvie

Phonogram #5

The cover to Phonogram #5
Sort of like a snake eating its own tail… or an x-ray of a skeleton eating pudding.
From Series: Phonogram

What Happened:

The body of the dead Britt-pop musical genre goddess Britannia is missing from its tomb. David Kohl, the phonomancer tasked with finding her is pretty upset by this dead end. There in her old kingdom, a place in most people’s heads, Brittannia’s followers rejoice in her resurrection. David isn’t convinced she hasn’t just been nabbed by no-good-nicks, but no one is listening. Then the lead singer to Blur jumps into a portal to work on The Gorillaz albums in the United States. This is a very strange comic.

The kingdom crumbles without Britannia there and David just barely escapes. He enters our world where he left it: in a trashy bar. He had to act a bit like a dude on drugs which make you want to rub up onto street light poles in order to enter the Memory Kingdom of Britannia and now faces the social repercussions of this. After buying not nearly enough alcohol to help him think, he realizes that whoever is trying to bring back Britannia must be a Retromancers (Phonomancers who feeds off of nostalgia).

He meets with the leader of his Phonomancer coven, a dude who looks too much like Paul McCartney to be a coincidence, and requests assistance stopping the Retromancers. He is denied because bringing back Britannia won’t affect the music so it won’t affect the Phonomancers who draw power from Brit-pop. David Kohl WILL be affected though, because despite the warnings of his friend and mentor Emily Aster, he never removed his musical center from Britt-pop. So the second Britannia is brought back and changed, his identity will change as well.

It’s very abstract and the stakes have never been lower. Will our hero succeed? What would success look like exactly? Who knows!

After chatting with a kid who also likes music David realizes that Britt-pop is meaningless. Rather than use this knowledge to stop wasting his time and go home he heads to stop the resurrection of Britannia alone.

But.

He.

Is.

Too.

Late!!

What I Learned From This Comic:

Musicians are terrible at the game Hangman.

The Creators:
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Jamie McKelvie

Phonogram #4

The cover to Phonogram #4
Red sky at night, murder train conductor’s delight.
From Series: Phonogram

David Kohl, the phonomancer with a heart of gold-stolen-from-a-blind-man, finds himself within his own memory kingdom. Here he can affect and be affected by his own memories, which makes it a very dangerous place to be.

After being weird-ed out by the revelation that most of his memories revolve around kissing faceless women, he meets a cryptic guide. Together they go deeper into his memories.

David is on a quest to find the body of the deceased British pop music goddess Britannia. He learns of a prophecy involving her revival and the destruction of pop culture, yadda yadda yadda. We’ve all heeeard the music goddess being brought back to live to destroy tumblr story. It’s old hat at this point.

Even with the stakes as high as they are, David wants to check on Beth first. Back in the real word, a ghost of the still alive Beth has started haunting a local bridge. David finds the same ghost in his memory kingdom. She is equally as happy to see him in this secondary location. It’s bad for David because she can harm him in this world and does so by ripping all his features into a formless pile to his horror. Beth loses taste for the torture pretty quickly though and David recovers enough to leave her be.

When meeting the nameless, featureless creatures known as “the crowd” David almost is turned into one just by talking to them. His guide does a handy trick where he cures David by ripping his arms off. Fortunately arm shops were abundant in David’s memory of London so replacements are quickly found.

David gleefully takes the opportunity to kick the members of the band The Kinks in their heads. This angers the King of this memory kingdom. With some smart talking (sort of) David is granted permission to see the body of Britannia. But the body isn’t there! It’s been stolen!

What I Learned From This Comic:

Don’t talk to white people.

The Creators:
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Jamie McKelvie

Phonogram #3

The cover to Phonogram #3
New York City apartments, am I right?
From Series: Phonogram

What Happened:

David Kohl, the brit-pop phonomancer, needs to meet his old acquaintance Beth juuust to be sure she isn’t dead. David ran into her ghost on a bridge the previous night so this is more practical than super-patronizing. Beth turns out to not only be very much alive but also furious at David for leading her on romantically when they were younger.

David and his best bud Kid With Knife now find themselves without any more leads as to what happened to the dead god of British pop music Britannia. Lacking any other ideas, they rely on the old fallback: mooching. They drive up to London to meet with David’s sorta-coven leader Emily Aster. Aster rewards the two of them with a free lunch, snarky insults, and the name of a contact: Indie Dave.

Aster is also worried about David still being tied magically to Britannia. It’s a connection she removed from herself when Britannia died. David doesn’t understand why he keeps it either, but he figures it must still be important. Plus some people still insist Lit was the best band in the world. So let’s not waste all our time on petty crimes like David’s.

David and Kid With Knife then drive back to Indie Dave’s place. Indie Dave is a skinny weirdo. He burns old LPs for warmth and seems to have shunned any modern convenience which might make life more bearable.

On the subject of memory magic, Indie Dave is an expert. He teaches David Kohl how to perform the ritual to enter a memory kingdom. A final warning from Indie Dave to never enter your own memory kingdom falls on David’s willfully deaf ears.

Dressed as the brit-pop king slut inside up all, David returns to the club he used to go to when he was first under Britannia thrall. He performs the ritual (dancing like a dork) and gets sent to his own memory kingdom in hopes of finding more clues to Britannia’s location.

What I Learned From This Comic:

The Crypt Keeper was indie.

The Creators:
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Jamie McKelvie

Phonogram #2

The cover to Phonogram #2
Yet, this confirms it. I don’t like the new seasons of the Simpsons.
From Series: Phonogram

What Happened:

Our hero and phonomancer (person who can use music for magic) David Kohl is given the impossible task of finding the dead goddess Britannia. David’s been placed under a curse by another Goddess who believes something has happened to Britannia. So really, he doesn’t have much choice in the manner.

Needing some help to fight off the curse David goes with the easy solution: Drugs! He meets up with his friend and non-phonomancer Kid With Knife. Kid is a fun dude and thinks music is awesome and doesn’t see the big deal about magic needing to be involved.

Anyway, the two of them go to an music club where David first met Britannia to secondarily search for clues and primarily get drugs. David is pretty grossed out by the whole experience. It’s true you can never go home again. Especially when home has become the den of an evil Phonomancer feeding off the nostalgia of 90’s pop hits blasting in the club. Well, that’s not true. You can go home to that. A lot of people do! Everyone’s different! The great melting poooot!!

Kid With Knife makes the night go in a strange direction when he tells David he saw a ghost of Beth. Beth, who pined after David for years until eventually using Kid With Knife in an attempt to make him jealous (it didn’t work). What’s even more strange about Beth’s ghost showing up all the sudden is that Beth isn’t dead.

They visit the ghost on the bridge where Richey Edwards of the band The Manic Street Preachers disappeared. Beth be… like A-Ghost-Of-Unrequited-Love be, mad at David.

The next morning David discusses the case with his friend and fellow phonomancer Emily Aster. Only then does David realize two things: this morning he has a completely different set of memories of his time with Beth and…even worse… different taste in music! He likes the stuff he was just making fun of earlier! The curse’s evil is spreading throughout his body faster than he had predicted.

What I Learned From This Comic:

Nostalgia is the slow killer.

The Creators:
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Jamie McKelvie