Chronicling the creative process for Pop Zeus, the forthcoming Guided By Voices/Bob Pollard tribute comic- including sketches, concepts, finished art and whatever else is in my brain at the moment.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Why "Pop Zeus"?

Lately some folks have been asking just what the title of my GBV tribute comic "Pop Zeus" means. So I have my old journal (the beat-up one I filled up with ideas before combining and refining them into the Grail Diary) propped up next to me here by the keyboard to help jog my memory.

The process of coming up with the title began at some point around September of last year. I remember looking for a short phrase that would say something succinct and powerful about the music, the band and how strongly I feel about them. And I chose to utilize the bands own tendency to reuse song titles or lyrics as album titles or vice versa as a jumping off point. I also wanted hardcore fans to get that it was GBV related right away, a connection to the band that could also speak to non-fans or neophytes.

So here is the list of abandoned title ideas taken straight from the bands catalog. The reasons why it was considered and not chosen are next to the titles (the stared ones were the top candidates- and old practice of mine to highlight good ideas in my notes)...

The Color Of My Blade - Always loved this b-side and I think I just liked the sword imagery. But it didn't say much about the band so it was wisely jettisoned.
*Exit Flagger - This was a front runner- classic GBV track from Propeller and it made reference to the end of the band. But the sense of power and music was ultimately lacking.
Soft Rock Renegades - Taken from the name of one of Bob Pollard's solo lineups, this moniker would have been an amusing comic title. But the irony and reference might have been lost on casual fans (cause they don't really play soft rock, you see, heh)
Big Fan Of The Pigpen - I guess I considered this one because of the "fan" idea. But it was quickly discarded- the imagery is too odd and doesn't make literal sense. Great Bee Thousand song though.
A Restless Shadow - Yet again an interesting title, but too moody and strange I think. Didn't convey the powerful and rocking side of the band, perhaps more appropriate for a goth tribute comic! Taken from the wonderful lyrics of Sleep Over Jack.
Sad Freaks - This liner note description of the band from Alien Lanes always stuck with me. Again it was only conveying one aspect of the bands personality and music. And it was not exciting me as a comic book title.
Crying Your Knife Away - Name of one of the oldest live bootleg albums, this one would have been a good title for the comic. For me it was yet again referring to the breakup of the band.
Game Of Pricks - Great song, great song title, but not really applicable to the comic or band.
Skills Like This - Interesting idea for a title, but alone as a phrase it lacks the context of the song as a whole. What skills were being referred to wasn't clear either.
The Everlasting Big Kick - Taken from the lyrics to The Enemy, this would have been a great title. The energy is there, the power is there. Maybe it was not short and punchy enough?
*The Flame That Cries - Another strong contender and one of my absolute favorite track ever by the band. Again it was reflecting the sadness in the end of GBV with a cool visual image. But the feeling of power was again lacking.
Meet My Team? - I must have had doubts about this one to put the question mark there. I guess I was saying that the band was my team with this title. But it still was not strong enough as a title.

*Pop Zeus - When track title off of Speak Kindly Of Your Volunteer Fire Department came to mind, it was an instant front runner. Ironically, the song isn't even on a proper Guided By Voices album. But Bob is GBV and GBV is Bob in my estimation. And in two short words, the song title sums up everything I want to say about the band, my feelings for the music and the themes of the comic.



Pop Zeus as a image, the god of rock so to speak, really conveys the supernatural and otherworldly energy and face melting power of the bands music to me. Zeus being the king of the Greek gods also fits my opinion that there is none higher- that GBV are the best and that all other bands shall bow before them! And when I listen to their music, it makes me feel powerful too. Plus the title is short and snappy, which is great for any logo or title. And the god imagery also fits into the comic book ouvre, with god-like heroes and bombastic images. It also gives a sense of the lightheartedness and fun of the project- not so much a eulogy for the demise of the band, but more of a celebration of their music which continues to live on and move us.

There you have it. Oh, and by the way, the full title of the comic is Pop Zeus: A Tribute To Guided By Voices. The subtitle is just to make clear right on the cover what you are getting. Hopefully I will have some logo ideas to show you all before too long. Seacrest out!

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