“It’s kind of like my version of a 60s underground comic where it would just be completely free form” Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips talks Yoshimi Battle The Pink Robots comics!
The Flaming Lips are one the world’s biggest bands. The Grammy Award-winning act behind the albums Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, The Soft Bulletin and the recent American Head as well as a slew of singles including Do You Realize???, It Overtakes Me and She Don’t Use Jelly need no introduction. What you might not know is that lead singer and song writer Wayne Coyne also writes and illustrates comics, with Lightning Strikes the Postman and The Sun is Sick already released and more on the way. I was lucky enough to chat with Wayne at this year’s WOMAD Festival where we talked about Underground Comix, storytelling and appearing as a guest-star in The X-Men!
Mike: Wayne, can you tell us something about your work in comics?
Wayne: Well, at the moment, I’m working on graphic novel for Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.
M: Oh, wonderful!
W: Yeah, it’s kind of like my version of a 60s underground comic where it would just be completely free form. This is stream of consciousness from page to page. But I do like a story and that part of it. You don’t realize how much of the story is what you care about. I mean, I love the drawing and I love the pace and I love all that, but, you know, some comics are just all drawing. There’s no story, and it loses you, you know what I mean? You have to care about what’s happening. And that’s difficult, but it’s thrilling to be making one.
M: I’ve written a comic with Mike Collins whose been an artist on The X Men. You’ve been in an X Men comic!
W: Exactly! We’ve been featured in it! Yeah!
M: How did that happen?
W: Well, luckily, our manager is a big comic books fan, he just suggested to someone, “Hey, you should put the Flaming Lips in a story!” Then that got mentioned to someone, and then five or six years later, it’s really happening! He’s a great manager. He’s persistent and he loves comics and The X-men. I don’t know that much about them, but he does! So what’s your comic?
M: I write for an anthology comic called The 77.
W: So, you write it, but you don’t draw it?
M: No, I don’t draw it.
W: Right. See, for me, it’s like, I like doing all of it. You know what I mean? I find when you write it, then someone draws what you’re writing and then you’re like…
M: But I love that, because if you are working with an amazing artist and you send them a script, and then you get the artwork coming back. ..
W: Well, that’s got to be thrilling! Now, do they ever do a version of a character and you think, well, I didn’t think the character would look like that?
M: Yeah. I’ve worked with someone who designed the look of a character that I’d written that was really quite different from the way I pictured it, but it was so much better!
W: Oh, I see! And you didn’t want to change it?
M: No, it actually informed my writing
W: So, in your mind, you have the vision of them?
M: Yeah, and I try to make my “directions” as clear as possible.
W: And the artist would want that. Yeah, I would say for sure.
With that Wayne was whisked away, first to co-present a talk on astrophysics and then later to perform on stage with The Flaming Lips. It’s fair to say that the future for Wayne, whether in music, comics or whatever else takes his fancy, is never going to be boring.
Live at Womad, 30th July 2022, defeating the evil pink robots.
One of Wayne’s comics, Lightning Strikes the Postman
A page from The Sun is Sick
The Flaming Lips versus The X-Men!