By Michele Brittany, West Coast Bleeding Cool Correspondent
The cover of Rock & Roll Biographies #2 Faith No More & Mr. Bungle can only be described as a carnivalesque partnership with death metal fandom. Gritty, dark and in your face, this comic book comes from the creative mind of writer Mike Wellman and artist Matt Jacobs. Wellman and Jacobs are huge fans of Faith No More and Mr. Bungle, so it was a dream come true for these friends to work with Acme Comics and with each other.
Michele Brittany: Mike and Matt, thank you so much for your time. This is an exciting and unique series, can you provide BC readers with an overview of what Rock & Roll Biographies #2 Faith No More/Mr Bungle comic book is about?
Mike Wellman: This is about the history of both Faith No More and Mr. Bungle, the former being one of the pioneering bands of alternative rock, topping pop music charts a year before anyone ever heard the word Nirvana, and Mr. Bungle being the lead singer's high school band who capitalized on the popularity of FNM to score a major-label record deal for some of the craziest, Zappa-esque carnival music/death metal/ska that you've ever heard! And it only gets more bizarre from there!
The history of Faith No More is told from a "fan's eye view". I can't even pretend to know how the members interact or treat each other behind closed doors, as many of these biographical comics portray their subject matter. But I can tell you how it looked from the audience and what it meant to me and many others like me. That device allows us to explore a lot of material in a short amount of time.
Matt Jacobs: The Faith No More/Mr Bungle issue of Rock n Roll Biographies is sort of the story of the band(s) as told from a fan's perspective. The title is "Nerds Eye View", and that's exactly what Mike and I are….and hopefully what a lot of our readers are… Faith No More nerds, haha… It's not a lot of boring discography type stuff, or like a traditional biography. There's a lotta fun "Rumor" type stuff in there we used to hear growing up….like anybody remember a story about Patton and Axl's OJ? That's the type of stuff I'm talking about.
MW: This is the second installment in a new series of Rock N' Roll Biographies. The editor, Mel Smith, was inspired by a documentary he saw about Todd Loren and the old Rock N' Roll comics from the 80's and early 90's. Todd pissed a lot of people off and was found stabbed to death in his condo in 1992. So, here we are 23 years later, picking up the torch for Rock N' Roll with Acme Comics!
Mel started shopping around what I'd consider to be a very unorthodox list to various comic creators he knows: bands that typically don't get much coverage outside of their die-hard fan base. Bands like Slayer and Primus and, in this case Faith No More and Mr. Bungle. One of the writers saw the list and, knowing what an obsessive FNM (that stands for Faith No More!) junkie I am, told Mel "You've GOT to have Mike Wellman write this one!" so he sent me an email and I jumped at the opportunity!
MB: Mike, what led you to write a comic book about your musical life?
MW: I think simply because I was asked! I believe that comic books and rock n' roll run hand in hand pretty easily. I produced and published a comic book with The Kids of Widney High a few years back, a band made up of the students of a special needs high school in Los Angeles. They've released albums on Mike Patton's label IPECAC Recordings and are a swell group of people. You might recognize some of the names of folks who worked on that project, SPIDER-GWEN co-creator Robbi Rodriguez, Jim Mahfood, Black Metal's CHUCK BB, Rafael Navarro and others. Whenever we release an issue of my ongoing series Guns A'Blazin'! our release parties ALWAYS have musical accompaniment from bands in the area. If I didn't have a comic book shop, I'd probably be begging for a job at Amoeba Records in Hollywood! Hah! So I guess you could say that music is a strong passion of mine… and you know what they say, write what ya know!
MB: How did you two come to team up for this project?
MW: Matt was always my "go-to" guy for this project! He's as obsessive about Faith No More as I am! The first time he walked into my comic shop, waaay back in 2004, I was playing the 'Lovage' album (a tribute to the musical stylings of folks like Serge Gainsbourg by Dan the Automator with lead vocals by Faith No More's Mike Patton and Jennifer Charles) and we instantly connected. A few days later, I brought boxes of bootleg videocassettes into the shop and we hung out and watched these blurry, warbely third/fourth generation vids while customers hurried out the door.
There were a few bumps and hiccups along the way, but at last year's San Diego Comic-Con, the stars lined up and we were finally able to fit the project into Matt's insanely busy schedule!
MJ: Mike had asked me to do the book when he first started writing it, and as much as I wanted to, us both being super fans of these bands, and I had read the script, which I LOVED, I had to turn it down due to prior job obligations. The opportunity was presented again at a later time and I latched myself on!
MB: What does it mean for you personally to be working on this tribute?
MW: It feels GREAT! I was pretty nervous taking it on. The Faith No More fans are a pretty discerning bunch and easy to throw arrows at anything that seems like it's just someone trying to cash in. And the band itself, well, I wouldn't want to wind up on their bad side. But once Matt started showing some of the artwork on Instagram, we were welcomed with open arms by the fine folks that run FAITHNOMOREBLOG.com and Jim Brown over at FAITHNOMOREFOLLOWERS. They've been HUGELY supportive. It's kinda cool, because these are sites that I would (and continue to) check out every day for some nugget of news, from a new song to a tour announcement, and to click over to their site to find news about our little comic is pretty exciting!
Jim even put me in touch with Faith No More bassist Bill Gould (who it seems is the glue that holds the band together) and I sent the script over to him so he could 'fact check' it. There was ONE inaccuracy in the entire script, he said, and said "Just curious, how did you know some of this stuff?" So I either totally creeped him out or he was honored that people are paying attention! Maybe a little bit of both. Anyway, it's still an UNOFFICIAL product, but it has passed through the hands of anyone official that cared to take time to see it.
MJ: For me, working on this project was like a total dream job, I mean Mike [Wellman], who happens to be a personal friend of mine had written a script about these two bands that I've been hanging on basically, since 1989! I mean, Mike Patton's music alone has not only influenced me throughout the years he was active in Faith No More, but all the years in between…(when we thought they'd never return) with projects like Lovage, Fantômas, Tomahawk, Peeping Tom, Mondo Cane, etc. And we DO touch a bit on some of that stuff in here. So essentially these bands had as much an influence on my life growing up as my favorite films and comics. For me personally this is kinda like getting to work on my favorite comic title ever. It's just a comic title that has never really existed before.
MJ: One of my favorite things about both of these bands is their ability to switch styles and genres multiple times within each album, and in Bungle's case like multiple times per song. So I had a chance to do something that I've wanted to do with my art in comics for a long time, but never really had an excuse to which was just that; kind of bounce back and forth between styles and mediums…a little per album on each respective era I was drawing at the time, while keeping the kids in the story that are in "our shoes" in a more surreal cartoony world. And when I got to the Bungle story, I went ahead and in most cases tried to switch between mediums and styles multiple times within each page as the approach they took on their music was such a mix of so many different things, there was no single way I wanted to approach it. Most of the Bungle pages are hardly even in a panel-to-panel format.
MB: Matt, I have long admired your art style on The Arcs (2013, Fanboy Comics) and your work at Wildstorm. What else do you have going on right now?
MJ: Right now amongst other things, I'm working on something pretty cool for fans of horror (particularly zombies), board games, foosball, and comic books alike…a very odd combo, that deserves an explanation: it's a one of a kind custom Carrom foosball table (www.carrom.com) that I'm covering in my own artwork and is being featured at the Atlantic City Boardwalk Comic Con (www.doacbc.com) for attending celebrities of film and comics alike signing the table during the con, and then the table will be put up for auction at the convention. All proceeds from the auction will be going to The Wounded Warrior Organization.
A lot of very cool attendees at the con, including the great Kevin Smith doing a Q&A with the Almighty Stan 'The Man' Lee, a slew of celebrity guests like William Shatner, Michael Rooker, Willa Holland, Jason Mewes, Adam West, and a bunch of others.
I'm working on the table now, and am hiding some fun cameos in there for fans to look for (don't think I'll make it through anything without at least ONE 'Baba Booey' or some kind of 'Pattonism'), and am really happy with the way it's turning out so far! This will be the only one like it in its existence, and I'm very excited to be doing a custom table with Carrom, to be able to do what I can for the Wounded Warrior Foundation and not to mention vicariously attend the Atlantic City Boardwalk Con from the West Coast through my social media sites!
MB: For those who want a copy, what should they do?
MW: There are a couple options. First, if you have a local comic shop, I always recommend you start there! Get the word out to retailers about the book and if enough people ask, maybe they'll take a chance on it and order a few extras for the shelf. Plus, you'll discover all kinds of OTHER stuff in the store that you never knew you wanted but find you can't live without!
If you don't have a comic shop in your area or the book doesn't ship to your country, then we've set up this handy-dandy eBay listing here! All copies ordered from this ebay link will come signed by both Matt and myself! And finally, for comic shops again, we've produced this informative little TRAILER that tells them all the essential information they need to know to place their orders!
MB: And where can people find you on social media?
MJ: @mattjacobsart on Twitter and Instagram
MB: If you are interested in this series, you can order it from your local comic book shop using code 'APR150955' or go online to eBay and pre-order from The Comic Bug. Thanks so much to Mike and Matt for their time!
Michele Brittany is an independent popular culture scholar and semi-professional photographer and editor of James Bond and Popular Culture: Essays on the Influence of the Fictional Superspy (McFarland & Company). She regularly posts reviews and analysis on the spy/espionage genre on her blog, Spyfi & Superspies and can be followed at Twitter @mcbrittany2014.