Dan Panosian is well-known as an artist in the comic book world, but he's also been honing his chops as a writer for some time. On February 1, Black Tape #1 brings his next big project as a writer to shelves with a story that combines classic occult rock and '60s horror - two of Panosian's favorite things.(opens in new tab)
Newsarama caught up with Panosian for a conversation on Black Tape, getting into the story's influences and intricacies.
Along with the obvious questions about what music might set the stage for the story of a supposedly cursed album from an enigmatic rock star, Panosian opens up about working alongside artist Dalibor Talajic and digs into Jack King, the rock star in question, and offers fans a tongue-in-cheek fair warning about the mystery ahead.
Newsarama: Dan, I'll start with the question we both know I'm going to ask. You mentioned a few bands as inspirations in the announcement of Black Tape, but what's on your '60s occult rock playlist? What are the sounds readers should have in their heads when they read this comic?
Dan Panosian: A lot of Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath. But I think Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple should be on that list too. The hard rock of the early '70s fuels this story. Bands like Led Zeppelin danced that line between hard and still very moody at times - which to me, seems like exactly the tone of this story.(opens in new tab)
Nrama: On that note, the lines between occultism, hard rock, horror movies, and comics have always been blurry. How did you arrive at this specific cultural intersection as inspiration for your first creator-owned limited series with AWA as a writer?
Panosian: I've written and drawn a few creator-owned books like Tiffany, Slots, An Unkindness of Ravens, Alice Ever After, and Canary with Scott Snyder. But this one combines so many of my favorite elements and pieces them all together. I live in Laurel Canyon, which is a key element of the story. A lot of famous '60s and '70s rockers lived here.
Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones burned down one of his houses down the street from me. Jim Morrison. Famous song producers. The area has a lot of rock n' roll history. There's a very interesting vibe here. Mix that with the terror of the times - Satanism – and you have the elements of a great story.(opens in new tab)
Every older generation critiques the music of the upcoming generation and during the ‘70s it was no different. Bands were linked to devil worshiping, and it legitimately scared people.
Nrama: Digging deeper into the story itself, can you tell us about Jack King, the rock star whose life and death form the backbone of Black Tape?
Panosian: He was born into the music business by Satanists. The poor guy never had a chance. He was groomed to be their eventual leader, but he started going down his own path, which didn't go well with the cult surrounding him. Very quickly, things go extremely bad for him. The kind of bad you don't bounce back from.
Nrama: For that matter, what else can you tell us about the so-called Black Tape itself?
Panosian: The Black Tape is believed to be Jack's last unpublished track that unlocks a portal to hell. The cult is certain it exists, but no one can find it. They're certain that his young widow is hiding it, but she's as lost as they are.(opens in new tab)
Nrama: You're working with Dalibor Talajić on Black Tape, whose resume almost speaks for itself. As an artist yourself, how did you go about finding the right person to take on that side of the story? And how has it been working with Dalibor from the writer's side of the table?
Panosian: It's not always easy. When I'm writing any story, I already see it drawn [by me] in my head. I have a very distinct idea of how it should look. So, finding the right artist can be tough. Luckily, Axel Alonso has an excellent eye for talent and an impressive roster of artists to pick from.
Dalibor does an incredible job of mixing a ton of thoughtful detail with the right amount of darkness and intrigue, and his work really suits the material. It's haunting and very different from the Super-Hero art most people associate with comic books. I think everyone will dig it.
Nrama: What else should readers know going into Black Tape?
Panosian: Honestly, the less the better. It's a horror/thriller and a bit of a mystery too. Find the seat belt on your '69 GTO and buckle up - it's a dark twisty road and you only have one working headlight. You've been warned!
Before The Black Tape arrives, get your scare on with the best horror comics of all time.