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May 20, 2010

Book Notes - Chris Roberson and Mike Allred ("iZombie")

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

iZombie is a new comics series from writer Chris Roberson and illustrator Mike Allred. Gwen Dylan is the zombie, a gravedigger who works at an eco-friendly cemetery and eats the brains of the recently departed. The twist--she is haunted by the deceased's thoughts, and seeks to fulfill their final requests. The supporting cast is filled with otherworldly creatures: a ghost, vampires, a were-terrier, and others, all with distinguishing quirks and interesting personalities.

The first issue of iZombie sets the premise for a fabulous series. I haven't been this excited for a serial comic since I picked up an early copy of Fables. and can't wait to see what happens to Gwen during her adventures.

In their own words, here is Mike Allred's and Chris Roberson's Book Notes music playlists for their comic book, iZombie:

Playlist by Mike Allred co-creator and artist of iZOMBIE.

I'll do mine as a mood enhancer for the scenes.

I'm almost always working to music, or take breaks with bike rides or long walks with music in my head as I think about what's in the script and on the drawing board.

With I, Zombie #1 I would narrow it down to:

Bonus! "In Every Dream Home a Heartache" by Roxy Music

One thing the creative team has in common (in particular an obsession Shelly Bond has had as long as I've known her) is the insane grooviness of Roxy Music. And this tune fits the tone of Ammon and his mansion in the opener, prequel, preface, preview that was in the House of Mystery Halloween Special.

"Don't Fear The Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult.

The mood and lyrics to this recording continue to haunt me (despite Christopher Walkens' need for "more cowbell!") and suit the vibe for our opening scene at the cemetery.

"Memory of a Free Festival" by David Bowie

My favorite bike ride is the river loop in Portland between the Steel and Hawthorne bridges. One evening the sun dropped behind the west hills as this tune randomly came through my headsets. "The sun machine is coming down and we're gonna have a party..." repeated as the lights of the city began reflecting off the water replacing the sunshine.

"Jig-Saw Puzzle" by The Rolling Stones

Great for just hanging out with Gwen and Ellie in the crypt.

"4th Dimentional Transition" by MGMT

Gets the heart beating with a spacey/spooky quality that works for Nemia appearing in the woods.

"KNIFE" by Grizzly Bear

Probably my favorite tune from a band who has yet to give me a song I don't eat right up. And so let's use it as we all have something to eat at Dixie's.

"And Then I Dreamt of Yes" by The Dandy Warhols

Another great soul lifter that mirrors Gwen's need for hope and purpose.


"Surfin On A Rocket" by Air

This has a hooky goofy quality that would play nicely off the record machine at The Firehouse and give us a respite from all the spookiness.

"Wake Up" by Arcade Fire

Pull yer heads out people! Nice transition as we go outside.

"Daft Punk Is Playing At My House" by LCD Soundsystem

I love the idea of this cranker being on the radio of our monster hunter's car.

"A Day In The Life" by The Beatles

This could be my all time favorite song from the Fab Four. Well, today anyway. Nothing captures the essence of life and death while contrasting the distinct styles of John and Paul. This would be a nice builder through Gwen's ritual.

"One Eternity At A Time" by The Gear

And finally, this song from my band sums it all up for me as the perfect closer. This is the be all end all about my feelings about life, death, and existence in general.

Ah, what the heck, let's throw in a couple more bonus tracks just for fun which could fit in nicely:

"I Love The Dead" by Alice Cooper

Couldn't resist this for the sheer horror of it.


"Salvation" By Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Beautiful and the perfect contrast to Alice's message.

Playlist by Chris Roberson Co-Creator of iZOMBIE

Mike's gone for songs that set the mood for different scenes, so I figured I'd tackle the characters. My musical tastes are very mercurial, and if I came up with this list tomorrow I doubt that more than one or two of the tracks would be the same. But this morning, these are the songs that seem to fit our players the best in my head.

Gwen - "Better" by Regina Spektor

Our featured player, the zombie girl Gwen, does manage to kiss them where it hurts, metaphorically. Does that make it better? Only time will tell.

Ellie - "Home Sweet Home" by Those Dancing Days

The ghost-girl Ellie never left home when she was alive, and in the world of iZOMBIE ghosts can only visit places they remember going in life. This track from my favorite all-girl group from Sweden is an ironic anthem for her, and apt in recalling the vibe of 60s girl-groups that Ellie might have listened to in life.

Spot - "Maybe Tonite" by .357 Lover

Spot the were-terrier is hopelessly in love with Gwen. (Literally, he has no hope.) His infatuation with her is more like a middle school crush than a real adult emotion, and so Corn Mo's rock-operatic ballad about (unrequited?) love in the shopping mall suits Spot perfectly.

Nemia - "Queen Bitch" by David Bowie

Though she isn't named in the first issue (if you squint you might be able to read her name tag), the leader of the vampires at BloodSports Paintball is Nemia. Gwen calls them the "vampire bitches," and Nemia is their undisputed queen.

Horatio - "Happy Sad" by Pizzicato Five

The younger of our two monster hunters is actually the traditionalist of the pair, so there's something about Pizzicato Five's habit of making new songs that *sounded* old that seems to suit him.

Diogenes - "Gone Daddy Gone" by Gnarls Barkley

The elder of the monster hunters is the more forward looking, but he's still grounded by his experiences in the 80s when he first learned the monster-hunting trade. Gnarls Barkley's updating of an 80s classic seems like a good fit.

Mike Allred, Chris Roberson and iZombie links:

Chris Roberson's website

Comic Book Bin review
Comic Book Noise review
Comic Book Resources review
Comic Related review
Comics Alliance review
The Comics Journal review
Creative Loafing Charlotte review
Fangoria review
Largehearted Boy review
Read About Comics review
read/RANT! review
See Monkey review
The Stranger review
USA Today review
The Vault of Horror review

Comic Vine interview with Mike Allred
iFanboy interview with Chris Roberson

also at Largehearted Boy:

other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)

52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly highlights of comics & graphic novels)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly highlights of new books)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from this week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists