Music is Still Magic: Phonogram Returns

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Way back in 2006 I reported on a band new comic mini-series that was debuting called “Phonogram”. The book revolved around the lives of magicians (called “phonomancers”) who use music as their medium.


Phonogram t-shirt design.

“Music is Magic. You know this already. You’ve known this from the first time a record sent a divine shiver down your spine or when a band changed the way you dressed forever. How does something that’s just noises arranged in sequence do that? No-one knows. It’s just…magic. Everyone knows that. It’s just that some realise that it’s more than metaphor.”

That series, now collected in graphic novel form, was an exercise in excavating one’s musical youth as a phonomancer races to stop a blasphemy against his Britpop past. Now writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie are returning for a second Phonogram series that explores a club night from seven different perspectives.

“To explore how much subjective experiences of a shared social event can differ. There’s a quote I’m probably going to lob at the front of the trade from Wellington: “The history of a battle, is not unlike the history of a ball…” His point being that you can’t write a history of a battle because it’s too confusing and the individual perspectives and understanding of events vary so much. You may as well try and write what happened at a party. “The Singles Club” flips that observation — and a party can be an awful lot like a battle. When a DJ plays a certain record, to one person it could be the best thing imaginable. To someone else, it may be the thing to totally destroy you.”


Phonogram “B-Side” art by Daniel Heard

In addition to the main story, each story will feature back-up stories (“b-sides”) from “guest DJ” artists like Daniel Heard, Marc Ellerby, and Emma Vieceli. Being something of a music fanatic, and a strong believer in the magical power of music, I really enjoyed the first series and I’m looking forward to these new “singles” (which debut on December 10th). Ask your local comic-shop to order you a copy, and be sure to check out the 11-page preview of the new series. If you happen to be a fan of the intersections between pop-culture, myth, and magic, I think you’ll enjoy “Phonogram”.