Dec. 15, 2021

Karaoke in comics? How does that work?

On the lastest episode, we talked with Douglas Wolk, who read all of Marvel Comics' superhero comics--that's over 27,000, if anyone's counting--because he really and truly loves karaoke. 

I invited him on partly as a joke--we've been vaguely aware of each other for over a decade, from back when I wrote about comics (obviously, nowhere near as successfully or regularly as Wolk has), and I knew he loved karaoke as much as we do. When he was looking for podcasts to appear on to promote his book, I said "hey, if you can tie Marvel Comics to karaoke, we'd love to have you" and within ten minutes, he sent me four comics panels. In all fairness, I recognize some of the characters, and have no idea who some others are:

I'm 99% certain this is an X-Men comic of some kind (if you know for sure, let me know--I want to buy this one)


Yes, I do really hope the upcoming She-Hulk series gets some Ally McBeal vibes going. This certainly reminds me of it.

No idea where this is from, either, but this absolutely looks like my dream place. 

I do love that the "translate foreign language in brackets" thing is still going.

I won't lie--blogging about comics, interviewing comics folks, and working occasionally for some comic book sites (the majority of which are now long gone) was a genuine high point in my memories. I miss it. It's probably why I set up this site with the extra blogging feature, now that I think about it. I met some amazing people, had some good times, and took some great trips. As I mentioned in the episode, prior to Adam turning me into a genuine karaoke fanatic, it was my comics friends who would get me to get up and sing poorly in assorted bars across Manhattan and Brooklyn. 

Yes, I am the person Alex Cox's arm is around: a younger, thinner, and better coiffed me. Wisely, only Alex and Gus Lindgren were trusted with microphones. This was probably Night Ranger's "Sister Christian" or Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," and a few years before Adam got me on the "let's do karaoke all the time" bandwagon.

In the episode, Wolk also points out that there are reasons a lot of comics folks gravitate towards karaoke--they create stuff, but they're very rarely engaging in something creative in front of an audience. Sometimes, that leads to a craving--to be seen, to be recognized, to be appreciated.

I absolutely get that craving.

I often joke that the best part of karaoke is the social contract of karaoke--I make noises at you in the form of singing, and you make noises back at me in the form of clapping. There's something about that--it just feels good, sometimes. 

But, really, the best thing is the people you meet. And that's not just karaoke. For me, it was comics blogging. And karaoke.

Honestly, anything where wonderful communities and found families form. 

It's been a long time since I left comics blogging for graduate school. And a long time since I graduated from graduate school. Half of my friends locally are graduate students in the same program I was in. It's not because I'm still attached to the university, in any measure. It's also not because we attended at the same time--while it's still in the FedEx envelope they mailed it to me in, I finished my MA well before any of them started. I'm certainly not responding to the school's emails requesting alumni to donate.

It's because, like comics people, English program grad students seem to have that same kind of connection to karaoke (while he later switched focuses, Dr. Kevin Snow--who provided the voice for the trivia intro music--was also an English grad student when I was there, and a sometimes karaoke attendee). 

Maybe it's a need for recognition. Maybe it's a need to make noises for clapping. Maybe it's a need for the found family. 

For me, it's probably a little of all of that, plus a way for a non-musician to engage with music in a creative way.