Can Comics Sing?
Maaheen Ahmed, Ghent University
It might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but comics do sing. Perhaps they sang more often in the past, especially in comics for children, but they continue to sing. They don’t necessarily sing well, if we take Bianca Castafiore from the Tintin adventures as an example, but perhaps this is also a question of taste. Two comics from the 1980s are particularly intriguing in this respect, not the least because they combine original music and, sometimes, even dance.
In Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, a grim comic set in a police state established in the wake of a nuclear war in the 1990s, protesting against Margaret Thatcher’s brand of conservatism and the dismantling of the welfare state is also punctuated with music. For the anarchic, Guy Fawkes figure, V, the iconic four opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony are one of his theme songs. They also translate into V in Morse code. More noteworthy is the original five-page-long song written and composed by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. “Vicious Cabaret” becomes the prelude for Book Two in the graphic novel version and carries the central message of protest against an unjust and repressive society (see Fig. 1).