It's always exciting when you get to watch someone talented build on something you've already created. That collaborative aspect means that even for me, the guy who wrote the songs, there's a whole bunch of new stuff that's going to happen.
TH: You guys are suddenly making it sound like a Marvel mega crossover event! What do you think the musical equivalent of the famous "Avengers versus Justice League" crossover would be, if you could incorporate characters from Jonathan's and any other band's songs?
GP: I pick Styx's "Come Sail Away." Skullcrusher vs. Alien Angels!
JoCo: I'd go with Leonard Cohen--you'd get a lot of intense, deep thinking, East Village types in there, slouching around being all interesting. I'd like to see Skullcrusher try to hang out at one of their parties.
TH: What's the basic storyline of the "Code Monkey" comic?
GP: Code Monkey teams up with the moody supervillain Skullcrusher to save Code Monkey's beloved co-worker Matilde from Laura the Robo Queen's slave colonies on Chiron Beta Prime. Hijinks ensue.
The twist is that Skullcrusher is just as inept as Code Monkey when it comes to matters of the heart. He pines for Laura the Robo Queen, hopelessly. Unrequited love, fantastic heroism, seething villainy. We've got it all!
TH: I imagine that "Code Monkey" could have served as the whole "elevator pitch" for a comic story. Or, alternatively, just as the booster rocket that gets the story going and then gets jettisoned. Was it a good framework for stories that fit that kind of world, or has Jonathan been carrying around a clear picture of who the narrator is, and the life he led outside the song, all of these years?
JoCo: I actually don't have a huge framework in mind outside the songs. When I write I try to get deep into the character, and I try to empathize as much as possible. Best case, the writing comes from a very emotional place, so that it's almost personal, even though I'm speaking as a giant squid or a zombie or whatever.
And the larger story line that comes before and after doesn't enter into my process--I don't have the patience! So really I'm depending a great deal on Greg's talents as a storyteller, to take those characters and make them dance in a pleasing way, for longer than three minutes and 45 seconds.
GP: I've had all of Jonathan's songs in my iPhone for a couple of years now, so I've heard them all about one billion times each. And over the months, I've kind of internalized all of these different characters. Once I started thinking about how a story might work, the characters kind of fell into place very naturally. They're all so distinctive that you get great moments when you put any two of them in the same room.
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