John Bergin may be onto something. The day that I first interviewed him in email about his latest comic book, Wednesday, Volume 1 (Stompbox 13), after him telling me about the 80s vibe he was going for – "the bright colors, innocent story-telling, the poppy music" and a general lo-fi Asteroids aesthetic – I happened upon Neil Young's Trans album cover from 1982. The ideas behind John's homage started to make more sense to me. The next day, he sent me a link to the hilarious new David Hasslehoff "True Survivor" video from the forthcoming over-the-top cinematic ode the the 80s, Kung Fury. More resonance with John's latest offering. Several days later, it was a link to the new synth-poppy VR-themed John Carpenter "Night" video.
And then there's Road Warrior. Beyond the gloss of an Asteroids-era aesthetic, Wednesday is first and foremost Bergin's homage to George Miller, Mad Max, and the dusty car wars universe of the Road Warrior films that J.G. Ballard once christened as "punk's Sistine Chapel." Except here, Max is played by a 16-year old redheaded girl named Wednesday who has a talent for humorous teen ennui and building dangerous, gremlin-like robotic sock monkeys.
Volume 1 of John's comic (there are two volumes planned) begins as Wednesday is born into a post-apocalyptic wasteland to a dying mother. Her mother is apparently the victim of a swarm of nanobots, the proverbial grey goo, that has laid waste to much of the planet. Her mother was being pursued by a man named Blixa Danzig, perhaps a bounty hunter or someone's henchman. When the mother's dying wish is that Blixa take the newborn and keep her safe, he decides to do just that, in defiance of his boss who wants the baby for himself.
That's the prelude. The main story opens up on the eve of Wednesday's sixteen birthday. After a run-in with a local group of road pirates, and an all too familiar father-daughter fight, Blix tries to make it up to her with an early birthday present, the keys to his beloved 1970 Plymouth Barracuda (which we've seen them lovingly restoring through the years in flashback panels). But in a post-apocalyptic world, coming of age rituals can be especially worrisome. Bergin says that, at its heart, Wednesday is really about fathers and daughters – "how they grow together and apart. How they teach each other." His own daughter is about Wednesday's age. And as if the book were a fantastical magnification of a parent's fear of their child leaving the safe womb of their home, as soon as Wednesday leaves the protective forcefield that protects their underground dwelling from the dreaded swarm, all hell breaks loose and the sky literally falls (after a fashion) as she drives away.
Wednesday is chockablock with Warrrior-worthy car chases and road battles, rival gang-tribes, beautifully and memorably-rendered characters, those 80s pop-art colors and sensibilities, and that bad-ass, supercharged blown-hemi Barracuda. Bergin also uses the clever tactic of showing pages from Wednesday's composition notebooks for some of the expositional segments (and some hysterical, cynical teenage humor). There's even a mini-comic within the book, Mo'Moe, drawn by Monkey Moe, one of Wednesday's three robotic sock monkeys (Manny, Moe, and Jack), my favorite characters in the book.
John Bergin has never been content with one medium for expressing his formidable talents. Besides comic books, he's done zine publishing, fine art, photography, commercial art, music, and film. With his band, Trust Obey, he was the first artist ever signed to Trent Reznor's Nothing Records (though nothing ever came out on that label). His award-winning animated film, From Inside, which he almost single-handedly created, recently had its soundtrack re-scored by Gary Numan and the film re-released.
Besides being a comic book, the Wednesday story will also take the form of two original comic book soundtracks (with accompanying videos). The first record (both are to be released sometime this summer) features original compositions by Daniel Davies, from the band Year Long Disaster (and Ray's son, FWIW) and Geno Lenardo (Filter). The record also features various artists, including members/former members of NIN, Filter, Royal Thunder, and Evanescence, among others. The second record, of instrumentals, is being composed by Davies and Lenardo. Bergin (a huge soundtrack fan) couldn't help himself and will also have a couple of compositions on that album.
John and his label, Lakeshore Records, were kind enough to share the video for the first Daniel Davies single, "K' So", exclusively with Boing Boing. Bergin animated and directed the lo-fi ray-traced production. Note the fake copyright date, 1982, the year of Bladerunner, The Thing, Tron, and The Road Warrior.
After reading the first book and now strangely finding the "K' So" melody on heavy rotation in my head, I can't wait to see the second book, hear the two records, and to see what becomes of Wednesday, our "warrior of the wasteland" (and her long-suffering dad, anxious in letting his previous child loose into the brutal world that surrounds them).