Black Canary: Brenden Fletcher and Annie Wu on the Musical Influences on the DC Comic Book

Art-Rock

Apr 05, 2016 Issue # 56 - Best of 2015 - Father John Misty and Wolf Alice
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In 2015 DC Comics staged another massive relaunch, shaking up the DC universe yet again. Among the superhero classics to enjoy a fresh take is Black Canary, aka Dinah Lance, a badass crimefighter whose powers include a supersonic scream that can level a building, which sparked writer Brenden Fletcher's idea of putting her in front of a band.

The result is a slick, stylized series that puts the heroine in an atypical rock and roll setting, where Dinah is on the run from sinister agents, touring with a band that also goes by the name "Black Canary." Writing a band drama is second nature for Fletcher, whose pre-comic book career revolved around music. For years, he worked as a classical vocal performer while also playing in rock bandsa combination Fletcher does not recommend.

"Staying out late playing in bars is not a great thing to do," he says. "Probably got some vocal nodes, some scarring on my vocal chords. But these days that's fine. I still record in a studio with a producer in Montréal. The Dears, Sam Roberts, Stars, Arcade Fire, they've been my community for the last number of years in making music."

So when it came time for Fletcher to work with artist Annie Wu, they immediately figured out the sound and look of Black Canary. Both were inspired by and used David Bowie's penchant for theatrics as a starting point, but having Dinah in a band brought an opportunity to revisit some classic elements of her character's look. From there, Fletcher went into the studio and recorded a few demos to give Wu a better idea of Black Canary's sound, while Wu pinned down the characters' visual inspirations.

"The drummer, Lord Byron, is like this cool, androgynous, David Bowie/Grace Jones type," Wu says. "So she's always dressed a little bit like the Thin White Duke." For multi-instrumentalist Paloma, Wu thought, "why don't I just draw a female Jonny Greenwood?" While Ditto is a more original character, Wu said she was still inspired by singer/producer Grimes. According to Fletcher, "she's a mystery character, very important to the plot, so she is her own thing. She doesn't use any electronics to manipulate the sound of her guitar. She plugs straight into her amp and she is able to do sonically with her guitar what other musicians require a lot of circuit boards to do."

As for the band Black Canary, Wu and Fletcher agree that its sound is key to the artwork. "I really pushed [Brenden] to narrow it down, because the type of rock they play really influences their look," Wu says. "Glam, goth, electronic, they're all rock, but they don't all dress the same. We narrowed it down to something a little in between '80s goth music and a little more modern electronic."

"It's like Siouxsie and The Banshees meets Yeah Yeah Yeahs," Fletcher says. "You can really hear throwbacks to the groovy goth sound in the bass. There's a very pronounced picked bass sound that speaks to that era of music. In the production of the vocals and the way the synths sound, and the production overall, it sounds very modern."

[Note: This article first appeared in Under the Radar's Best of 2015 print issue, which is still on newsstands now. This is its debut online.]

www.dccomics.com/characters/black-canary

www.brendenfletcher.com

www.anniewuart.com



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