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Monster Magnet, Marvel Comics and the Bull God

Monster Magnet's Dave Wyndorf explains how the humble comic book inspired a career in psychedelic rock

Music cannot live on music alone. The rock star who only listens to other rock and roll will be a dull and repetitious creature. You need nourishment from elsewhere to keep it fresh, from fiction, movies, science, myth, history, art or — as in the case of Monster Magnet, New Jersey’s 26-year veterans of atom-splitting out-there psychedelic rock — the one creative form that brings them all together in one potent and gloriously trashy package: the humble comic book.

Singer-writer-musical-director Dave Wyndorf’s lifelong love affair with the lurid adventures of Spider-Man, the Avengers and the rest of the Marvel stable has set his band apart from the stoner rock herd. Nobody else is likely to write songs about Thor’s world-sized enemy Ego The Living Planet, or, as can be heard on Monster Magnet’s newest release, Milking The Stars, a heads-down motorik boogie concerning magician Doctor Strange’s legion of extradimensional foes the Mindless Ones. In return comics author Grant Morrison has named characters after the Monster Magnet songs Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Superjudge.

Though he’s a devotee of the cosmic late 60s “Silver Age” and its creative holy trinity — writer Stan Lee, illustrator Steve Ditko and above all the towering cosmic visions of Fantastic Four artist Jack Kirby — Wyndorf follows comics up to the present day. He even managed a comic book store in the early 80s, Fantasy Zone in his hometown of Red Bank. “I was working in landscaping at the time,” he recalls. “I turned up, covered in filth, and said I have to work here. The money wasn’t great but I got all the free comics I could read…”

Why do comics resonate so much with you?

“When I first discovered them I could tell instantly that they were absolutely made for me. This was like 1966, picking up a Strange Tales or a Tales To Astonish or Bill Everett’s Hulk at the barber shop and thinking ‘my God, what is this?’ They were really strange and exciting and kind of exotically dour and downbeat. They were cool as shit and better than any movie — they were a whole new way of reading.

“Then the art got to me and it freaked me out that this insane shit could come out of about four people’s minds. I mean, in the late sixties all literature was on fire. Just as you saw huge differences in vibe from year to year in music, you saw the same in comics. To me the comics looked like the music sounded. I remember hearing Communication Breakdown in late ’69 and thinking ‘in my head that looks like a Jack Kirby spread!’ 

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