Co-Writers Joseph Illidge and Hannibal Tabu and Artist Meredith Laxton Explore Prince’s Impact on the Minneapolis Music Scene through The Fictional Band Starchild
(April 7) When Prince burst onto the pop scene in 1978, he put Minneapolis on the music map. Many up-and-coming bands followed the trail that he blazed. And now, co-writers Joseph Illidge and Hannibal Tabu, artist Meredith Laxton, colorist Tan Shu, and cover artist Jen Bartel have created the ultimate love letter to the funky pop-rock sound that made The Artist Formerly Known as Prince a legend with MPLS Sound. This full color, original graphic novel charts the career of the fictional band Starchild and paints a vivid picture of the rise of a musical genius, and the rebirth of a city.
MPLS Sound follows the career of Starchild, a promising funk band led by an ambitious young black woman inspired by Prince to start her own revolution. Through her journey, we see from within exactly how His Royal Badness transformed the entire Minneapolis scene, inspiring countless young musicians to follow in his innovative footsteps. The book is a joyous and thrilling ode to Prince’s music and the shockwaves of inspiration it sent through the Minneapolis music scene.
MPLS Sound is not the first graphic novel inspired by the Purple One. In 1991, legendary writer Dwayne McDuffie and iconic artist Denys Cowan created Prince: Alter Ego, which was published by DC Comics’ now-defunct Piranha Press imprint.
“Prince was a nexus and catalyst of music history, and MPLS SOUND is the story of how he changed the trajectory of fictional bandleader Theresa Booker’s life.” said Joseph Illidge. “The way PURPLE RAIN was a musical quasi-biography in film form, MPLS SOUND is a romance, ballad, and musical drama in the graphic novel form. A narrative and visual homage to His Purple Goodness and the era of MTV’s birth. Get ready for a journey of art, courage, and the price of reaching for the sky.”
“There is a certain level of expectation involved when trying to draw the unique wardrobe and general aesthetic of Controversy-era Prince and many scenes throughout the book are inspired heavily by the flashiness of 80s funk,” said Meredith Laxton. “Ultimately, the story is about Theresa finding her own voice within the MPLS music scene and her evolving style throughout the book showcases that.”
“It’s hard to learn your heroes have feet of clay, but Prince’s problematic issues of colorism and capricious business practices cannot overshadow his eventual philanthropy and gigantic musical legacy,” said Hannibal Tabu about the themes of the book. “Here we got a taste of all of that while looking at some of the roots of the city that eventually killed George Floyd. Minneapolis is a complicated town, and its tragedies have left lives battered as much as its triumphs have inspired.”
Humanoids, the publisher of some of the world’s most groundbreaking science fiction and fantasy graphic novels, will publish MPLS Sound as part of the company’s acclaimed Life Drawn imprint, which showcases deeply personal and political stories inspired not by science fiction but the world around us. Previous Life Drawn releases have included a biography of feminist icon and actress Hedy Lamarr; a runner’s memoir of the New York Marathon; and the recently published A House Without Windows, a graphic documentary about the street children of Bangui, told in a style that mixes photos and illustrations.
Originally announced at an event at the Apollo Theater in early 2020, MPLS Sound will drop in bookstores on Tuesday, April 13 and in comic shops on April 14. Dig, if you will, its pictures.
About Humanoids: Based in Hollywood, California, with branches in Paris, London, and Tokyo, HUMANOIDS was co-founded 45 years ago in Paris, France, by legendary creator Mœbius, and has published thousands of titles since, including international bestsellers and iconic series such as The Incal and The Metabarons.
Joseph Illidge is a writer, editorial director, columnist, public speaker, and creative architect. His career in the publishing and media industries includes groundbreaking work for DC Entertainment, Heavy Metal, and various companies dedicated to multimedia narratives and hero fiction. His columns have appeared in Entertainment Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter. Joseph has been a speaker at The Apollo Theater, San Diego Comic-Con, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York City’s School of Visual Arts, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, NY. Joseph was the Keynote Speaker at the C3 Comic Creator Conference in Long Beach, CA. His published works include stories for DC Comics, Milestone on their iconic teenage superhero “Static Shock”, and he was featured in the History Channel documentary series “Superheroes Decoded.”
Hannibal Tabu is a writer, journalist, DJ, poet, designer, digital program manager and raconteur living in south Los Angeles with his wife and two children. AWARDS: 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt, 2019 Cultural Trailblazer Award from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, was on the Eisner Award-winning staff of Comic Book Resources, contributed to Ringo Award-winning comics benefit anthology Mine! A Celebration of Liberty and Freedom For All. COMIC BOOKS: Time Corps, Irrational Numbers and Scoundrel for Wunderman Comics; Artifacts #35 for Top Cow/Image Comics; Fathom Sourcebook, Soulfire Sourcebook, Executive Assistant Iris Sourcebook and Aspen Universe Sourcebook for Aspen Comics; Menthu: The Anger of Angels with Robert Roach; Project Wildfire on Second Sight Publishing with Quinn McGowan; co-writer (alongside 2 Guns writer Steven Grant) of an issue of Watson and Holmes for New Paradigm Studios. PROSE: Waso: Will To Power and Waso: Gathering Wind for Stranger Comics; Dark Universe: The Bright Empire, Steamfunk!, Cyberfunk! and Black Power prose fiction anthologies for MV Media; two self-published novels (The Crown: Ascension and Faraway). POETRY: (sic) Vice Verse (journal); A Drumming Between Us (journal); Multiverse: An Anthology of Superhero Poetry; two volumes of Drumvoices Revue (anthology); Voices From Leimert Park and Voices From Leimert Park Redux (anthology). JOURNALISM: weekly comic book reviews can be found on BleedingCool.com and the iHeartRadio podcast Nerd-o-Rama with Mo and Tawala. MORE INFORMATION: please visit the website, www.hannibaltabu.com.
Meredith Laxton is a freelance illustrator from the capital of North Carolina. She has long been inspired by the storytelling of comics and tabletop RPGs. Her background in multimedia design and animation has aided her art career in the indie gaming scene with companies like Puny Human Games and InXile entertainment. Nowadays, Meredith resides in Savannah, Georgia, where she received her M.F.A. in Sequential Art.