Tori Amos and comics came into my life at the same time, way back in the early 90s. I had a cool older friend that had all the best stuff, and one day she came into school with a copy of Death: The High Cost of Living, and I thought it was the prettiest thing I'd ever seen. Had to have it.
My friend turned me on to Tori too, and I fell in love. And then someone told me that Tori was the basis for Delirium in the Sandman “Brief Lives” collection (a story since debunked), which I bought...and thus began the cycle of dependency that is my comics addiction. Tori referenced Neil Gaiman in her songs, too, and so the connection was always there.
But the two have been brought together in a more gorgeous fashion than anyone ever expected by Image Comics, with an oversize anthology of comics based on Tori's songs. There's everything from a Y Kant Tori Read track to her newest stuff, and plenty of B-sides, transformed into sequential art by some of the best talent in the medium today.
And the best part? Tons of women artists and writers that I'd never heard of, all in one place. More below the jump!
I splurged on the $49.99 hardcover because I'm a junkie, but there's a $29.99 softcover that's the same size and still printed on the nice shiny paper, and it's worth every penny. And for the true Tori addict, there's a limited-edition $149.99 signed hardcover, but we have some limits. Still, when the Absolute Sandman editions run $99, this book is almost that big and a lot cheaper.
Some of the stories are fairly straightforward takes on the songs, and others are wordless, just impressions, and still others take one image in the song and spin it out into a completely different direction. The art styles vary widely, from paintings to black and white sketches, very stylized or soft and dreamy. There's absolutely something in here for everyone. With 50 songs, it's a good bet that your fave Tori tune is represented.
There are familiar names in here, like Pia Guerra, Lea Hernandez, Carla Speed McNeil, Hope Larson, and plenty of well-known male creators like David Mack, C.B. Cebulski, and Jeremy Haun.
But I'm absolutely loving Star St. Germain, whose art on “Glory of the 80s” seduced me instantly, and I'm definitely going to be picking up G. Willow Wilson's upcoming Vertigo series, Air, after reading her writing here.
“Suede” is a lovely little story by Kelly Sue DeConnick, with art by Andy MacDonald and colors by Nick Filardi, adding a bit of fantasy to a turning point in a young woman's life, and Derek McCulloch and Colleen Doran turn “Pretty Good Year” into a lush vision of a year in the life, and would be worth my money for one haunting panel of one green eye.
Ivan Brandon takes an obscure song from Tori's obscure 80s rock band, Y Kant Tori Read, and spins out some space-fantasy time-jumping pirate gorgeousness with Calum Alexander Watt's dreamy art, but the creators of this compilation really won my heart when they had Ryan Kelly illustrate Winter, my absolute favorite Tori song. John Ney Rieber spins a magical-realist story that really lets Kelly do a little bit of each thing he does best—impossibly detailed architecture, closeups on people with broken hearts--and then allows him a two-page spread to change the world entirely. Can't wait to see what he'll do with the open spaces on Northlanders.
This book really isn't only for the hardcore Tori fan, though no hardcore Tori fan will want to pass it up. It isn't even really for the hardcore comics nut. It's a great introduction to the world of sequential art, or just a really pretty coffee table book. But I'm betting that if you do pick it up, you'll wind up wanting more. (Art by Ryan Kelly)