Recently, Rocks Off was sitting here predicting the end of the world, like we do most weeks, when we got the opportunity to plug one of our favorite animated films of all time, Rock and Rule. Now, there are lots of cool things about this film: The soundtrack is awesome, the story is great, the art is amazing, and most of all it features characters based on some of the greatest rock stars we know of. One of those rocks stars is the one and only David Bowie, and it's not the first time a fictional version of him has taken center stage. Turns out he's been the image behind some pretty impressive works. For instance, that film we mentioned...
Mok (Rock and Rule): 1983 was not the best time to blow a huge amount of money on a cartoon that, because of drug use and devil worship, could only be marketed to adults. But that's just what Nelvana did with Rock and Rule. After a nuclear war eliminates humanity, the world is repopulated by the evolved forms of dogs, cats, and rats; Rock and Rule follows a young rock band as they try to stop the world's biggest star, Mok, from using music to raise a demon. Debbie Harry and Cheap Trick were used as character models, but Mok himself was a mash-up of Mick Jagger and Bowie. With his large lips, he more physically resembles the Rolling Stones front man, but his personality and performance style more closely resemble Bowie. Interestingly enough, his one musical number (see above) is actually performed by Lou Reed.
Lucifer: The devil has been portrayed in all kinds of way throughout the run of comic books, but none has really had the impact that DC Universe's Lucifer has. The character owes his current portrayal to Neil Gaiman, who featured Lucifer in the critically acclaimed Season of the Mist story arc in The Sandman. In that tale, Lucifer quits Hell to go on several adventures, becoming one of the most popular characters in the DC Vertigo line. Gaiman was very explicit when describing his Miltonian view of the fallen angel. In a 2001 live chat session Neil was asked about Lucifer's look. "I wanted somebody who looked like they used to be an angel," he said. "And Bowie in his curly haired 'folky' days - like Memory of a Free Festival time seemed so perfect for that kind of look."
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The Sovereign (The Venture Bros.): If you don't watch the Venture Bros. then frankly we don't know how you live with yourself. It's one of the funniest shows ever animated, and it's full of a wealth of completely unforgettable characters. One of those characters is recurring supervillain The Sovereign, who it turns out is actually a fictional version of Bowie. Bowie/The Sovereign is the head of the Guild of Calamitous Intent, which starts out as a kind of Legion of Doom group but morphs more into a staffing agency in charge of placing villains with an appropriate heroic nemesis. He's aided in this mission by his henchmen, Iggy Pop and Klaus Nomi. Bowie also has the ability to shapeshift in the show, and sometimes quotes from his own lyrics. He also apparently has previously survived an encounter with Brock Samson, which makes him a member of a very, very small group of lucky people.
Brian Slade (Velvet Goldmine): The first indie film we ever saw was Todd Haynes' Velvet Goldmine (1998). The film chronicles the rise and fall of a glam-rocker named Brian Slade, who disappears from the public eye after faking his death in a publicity stunt. The best way to describe the film is Citizen Kane if that film were about David Bowie. That's not an exaggeration. We saw Citizen Kane on re-release in the theatres shortly after Velvet Goldmine came out, and many shots are lifted right from that film. As for Bowie references, there are too many to name, even beyond the fact that the title is a Bowie song. Unfortunately, Bowie himself disliked the script, and declined to license any of his songs for use in the film. His main reason was that the film was focused heavily on the Ziggy Stardust persona, and Bowie was then planning on a massive multimedia rerelease of the album with a stage play. The project was ultimately cancelled.