Four Comic-Book Characters Inspired By Musicians

Rocks off just can't seem to get comic books out of our blood. Between being fully immersed in Comicpalooza last weekend and trying to point out to Broadway how many other comic characters would make better and safer musicals than Spider-Man, we've regressed to being 15 with ink-stained figures and a working knowledge of Batman's rogue's gallery.

Over the years of perusing Wikipedia and Wizard magazine, we've come across several characters in comics whose looks or personalities were inspired by famous musicians. Sometimes those musicians were not at all pleased with what they had inspired.

Fully half of this list involves lawsuits. For instance...

The Winter Brothers As Albino Worm Monsters

Brothers Johnny and Edgar Winter are two of the most influential blues-rockers in the world, and certainly two of the best things to ever come out of Beaumont. They are also albinos, and as such have suffered discrimination common to the condition. Its not as bad in this country as it is in, say, Burundi, where some albinos have been killed so their body parts can be used as the fuel for magic potions, but there are still many evil-albino stereotypes in film and literature.

Which is probably why when Joe Lansdale, Timothy Truman and Sam Glanzman parodied the Winter brothers as giant, albino worm monsters called the Autumn Brothers in 1996's Jonah Hex, they were a bit miffed. Miffed enough to sue DC Comics over the issue at least, claiming defamation, invasion of privacy, and several other charges. Unfortunately for duo, a Los Angeles court threw out the case in 1999, ruling that the portrayals were perfectly legal under the First Amendment.

"It was our intent to use the Jonah Hex comic book series as a vehicle for satire and parody of musical genres, Texas music in particular, as well as old radio shows, movie serials and the like," said Lansdale, a native and resident of Nacogdoches. "We feel within our rights to parody music, stage personas, album personas, lyrics, and public figures."

Sting: Hellblazer

John Constantine is one of the most interesting characters DC has ever put out. A magician by trade, he is the creation of Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, and John Totleben. He first appeared in Moore's acclaimed run on Swamp Thing, and has gone on to have a many strange adventures of a supernatural sort. He is the total anti-hero, full of sarcasm and questionable dealings, but his popularity is undeniable. His solo book Hellblazer is DC Vertigo's longest-running continuous title.

He is also directly based on Sting. Bissette and Totleben were big Police fans, and Moore decided to give them a character that would let them live out a little fanboy fantasy. His look was patterned after Sting's appearances in Quadrophenia and Treacle and Brimstone, specifically, and at one point he is even drawn on a point called "the Honorable Gordon Sumner."

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner