The Hold Steady
During HeroesCon earlier this month, I ran into 27 writer Charles Soule. Being a big fan of music (and comics of course), I was ashamed to admit that I had not run across his series (which launched last year from Image/Shadowline), built upon the rock and roll legend about certain very brilliant musicians dying at the age of twenty-seven. With the trade paperback of the first four issues set to go on sale this Wednesday, Soule and I settled in for a quick email interview. I was intrigued to learn about Soule’s contest for readers. Also, we talk about e sure to read to the end of this interview for a mention of Vanilla Ice.
Tim O’Shea: While at the heart of the tale, the threat of death looms–and yet as you note in this November 2010 CBR interview 27‘s theme is “really creativity”. Can you talk about why you wanted to explore the concept of creativity partially through death?
Charles Soule: Jumping right into the heavy stuff, eh? Fine by me. The “hook” to 27 revolves around the many brilliant musicians and artists who have died at age twenty-seven – they’re known in rock and roll mythology as the “27 Club,” and the idea is that there’s some sort of curse that takes particularly talented individuals well before their time. In the 27 comic, Will Garland, a superstar guitar hero, turns twenty-seven and his life falls apart. His hand gets hit with a nerve disease that makes him unable to play, and all sorts of other terrible things start to occur that make him realize he’s been hit by the curse. From there, he has to try to beat the curse and live to see twenty-eight. Lots of supernatural craziness, lots of rock music lore, lots of thrills, chills and guitar fills.
But as you noted, that’s just the surface story – the carnival barker tease that gets people in the freakshow tent. The deeper theme is creativity; why do some people seem almost compelled to make art, and what does that cost them? Why are some amazing talents taken young, and, of course, is it better to burn out or fade away (to, er, re-coin a phrase)? These are big questions, and I thought they were worth exploring. Most people are creative to some extent, and the ‘why’ of it all is worth trying to unravel.