You might have caught wind of the fact that a multi-media iPad app has been released this week featuring The Doors as part of a “fan experience” that was created to coincide with the digitization of boxed sets by Warner Music Group. The app seeks to “tell the tale” of The Doors through a unique combination of photos, new interviews, sound files, and, of course, music. What you might not have heard is that they decided to bring in comics to be part of that storytelling.
Artist Dean Haspiel (CUBA MY REVOLUTION, BILLY DOGMA) was asked to compose a comic, referred to as a “graphic novelization” to accompany voice recordings of Jim Morrison during the infamous “Miami Incident”, when Morrison was accused of exposing himself on stage in 1969. The official press release says:
This section also includes the once-confidential FBI report, the arrest report, a portion of Jim’s tongue-in-cheek testimony, Morrison’s mug shot, and his posthumous pardon issued in 2010.
This is some serious sourcing of material to clear up the “false accusation” of Morrison’s behavior on stage. The comic contains a great deal of supporting detail to help paint a clearer picture of the factors that led to the chaotic aspects of the performance, including a window onto Morrison’s way of thinking at the time, and also the ripple effect that the arrest had on the band including the cancellation of their first major tour and the labeling of the band as trouble by promoters. The comic subtly reminds readers of the part that small debacles can play on the large scale to impact the route of cultural history and also draws sympathy for Morrison without whitewashing his envelope-pushing and anti-authoritarian attitude that contributed to the incident in the first place. It’s a moving piece, told visually by Haspiel in a way that places Morrison at the center of his own story, justifying its presence well on the app as a missing puzzle piece of the story from Doors history. It stands alongside the ephemera and documentation on the app that helps bring the story home for readers as an unusual turning point for the Doors and places it in wider context of their career.
The app itself includes 1500 pieces of material assembled, alongside “44 short form videos and 60 audio segments” and
over 500 images including band photos, album art, singles, international releases and memorabilia (posters, ticket stubs, advertisements, press releases, contracts, and related correspondence).
It’s an exciting way to reassemble fan history and band lore in multiple formats, but even more affirming that the team chose to use comics as part of their storytelling on the app. It speaks to the role that comics have assumed as a form of visual journalism and also to the way comics can create atmosphere and a sense of participation for readers which Warner describes as “a new way to showcase and experience a band’s entire career in a single download”. The trailer for the app is available here.
Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress.