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Audio Comic Universe – Epic Music For Charity

audio comic universe volume one

A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by a fellow composer who told me about a very interesting composer collaboration project he is involved in: Audio Comic Universe – an epic orchestral music project for charity.

Audio Comic Universe was formed by a network of composers and comic book lovers who came up with the idea to release compilation albums based on re-interpreting iconic superhero’s and supervillain’s sonic identities like Batman, Deadpool, Hulk, Magneto or Doctor Doom. ACU just published their very first release: Audio Comic Universe – Volume 1, featuring a total of 23 tracks from 12 different composers.



All profits generated by the sales of ACU Volume 1 are donated to a charity organization called Capes 4 Heroes, who support children with disabilities and life threatening illnesses. 

Finding it both a very support-worthy and musically interesting project, I got into conversation with the project’s creators and was fortunate to learn a lot about the magnificent concept and production of their very first album.

THE IDEA BEHIND AUDIO COMIC UNIVERSE

Audio Comic Universe is the brainchild of composer Rayshaun Thompson who had the idea of collaborating with other composers in order to create original music based on popular comic book characters:

Rayshaun’s Original Post

rayshaun thompson acu

Quickly, a roster of composers gathered around Rayshaun’s post and started a big group message on Facebook, sharing different ideas about the project. They eventually agreed upon each composer writing both a hero and a villain theme for comic book characters of their choice. Each member was given approximately one month per song.  All writing, recording, production, mixing and mastering was completed by the individual composer. In the group message, the composers shared their work-in-progress demos with one another for feedback.  As composer and collaborator Micah Brill states:

“It was a really cool feeling to be able to hear feedback from peers. More often than not, someone who is reviewing our music is both not a musician and is paying us for our work (so they’re always right). This was a unique opportunity to hear qualified musical feedback.”

COMIC BOOK SUPERHERO VS. MOVIE SUPERHERO

Since the core idea of the Audio Comic Universe was born from the love for comics, the project was conceived to be more about comic books than being influenced by modern Marvel and DC superhero films.  Although every composer on the project contributed with different backgrounds, influences, and preferences, a thing that connected them all was being a fan of superhero comics.

Rather than imitating existing musical identities of comic book characters, all composers created their very own, original themes. Some acknowledged the given modern musical themes and others went in a completely different direction. Some of the characters chosen do not even have any musical identities (yet), so it was a completely new territory.

INTERVIEWS WITH THE COMPOSERS

Three of ACU’s composers – Nick Borrego, John Busby and James Otto – were available for short interviews on the project. Each of them was kind enough to record a video walkthrough of their particular song, sharing insights on their workflow as well as some interesting thoughts on their superhero/villain of choice.


NICK BORREGO

EPICOMPOSER: Nick, why did you choose to participate in the project?

NB: I’m a fan of Rayshaun Thompson’s work and when he proposed the idea on Facebook I was immediately on board. The idea of composers collaborating on a collection of their own interpretations of supheroes and villains is a very unique insight into each contributor’s creative voice. The added bonus of being part of a charity drive is also motivating as it stands for something positive.

EPICOMPOSER: Why did you choose your particular Superhero/Supervillain?

NB: I’m a massive fan of dichotomous characters like Two-Face. Dr. Manhattan goes beyond that in that he reaches unparalleled abilities with his sense of inter-dimensional comprehension. I love the exploration of multiple layers within characters as it reflects the complexities of the human experience and provides a story we can relate to, in some way, because of our own personal life experiences.

EPICOMPOSER: What did you enjoy most about working on the Audio Comic Universe?

NB: The part I enjoyed the most was going into my workstation with a blank slate, ready to explore my sonic interpretation of Dr. Manhattan. I am extremely fascinated by the idea of multiple dimensions, and I think that opened many doors for creative exploration while I was composing this piece. It was a lot of fun to express the symbolism of his story through the instruments at my disposal, from orchestral samples to synthesizers. Having such a deeply layered character as the creative foundation, to express musically, was definitely the most enjoyable part for me in all aspects of this project.

NICK BORREGO ON HIS THEME FOR DR. MANHATTAN


JOHN BUSBY

EPICOMPOSER: John, what was your reason for participating in the project?

JB: As a green horn composer it was a no-brainer – the opportunity to write and produce music alongside some other amazingly talented composers was a pretty awesome offer I couldn’t refuse. This would mark my first original composition and I knew that it had to be “good” enough to stand against what everyone else who would be writing, it was challenging and I knew that I needed it!

EPICOMPOSER: Why did you choose your particular Superhero/Supervillain?

JB: Well the whole idea behind the ACU is to chose a comic book character and tell their story through the music. I knew that I wanted to compose something emotive, exciting, layered and memorable so I had to have Magneto! To me, he’s the most complex, multi-layered antihero in any comic book hands down. This is a character who grew up in the midst of one of, if not the most tragic and brutal moments in all of our human history, the holocaust. To me the scariest and most lethal villains are the ones who have a credo that you can understand and sometimes even relate to, it makes them human and vulnerable and even compelling – Magneto has that.  Oh, and he also controls metal with his mind!

EPICOMPOSER: What did you enjoy most about working on the Audio Comic Universe?

JB: The growth!  I learned so much in the two months it took to compose and produce Magneto and as I mentioned before, I’m new at this, I don’t have a clue what i’m doing (laughs).  Not only was I fighting a learning curve in my DAW, I was learning how to orchestrate, mix, produce, master – you name it….and I loved every minute of it and can’t wait to do it again.

JOHN BUSBY ON HIS THEME FOR MAGNETO


JAMES OTTO

EPICOMPOSER: James, why did you choose to participate in project?

JO: When Rayshaun suggested the project, I thought it would be a fun opportunity to write some epic music and to get in touch with some other composers.

EPICOMPOSER: Why did you choose your particular Superhero/Supervillain?

JO: I chose Professor Xavier because I liked his journey as a character and the role he plays within the X-Men. It felt to me like I’d have a lot to explore musically and emotionally, and I’m really happy with the different sections that I ended up with.

EPICOMPOSER: What did you enjoy most about working on the Audio Comic Universe?

JO: The best thing about being part of the project was getting a whole new network of composer contacts as well as enjoying the opportunity to try some epic music!

JAMES OTTO ON HIS THEME FOR PROFESSOR XAVIER


SUPERHERO MUSIC FOR CHARITY

The ACU composers told me that when they initially created the project’s concept, they were just interested in writing great music. As they were producing their individual songs, the collective started to think about the release of the album. Someone suggested that they could donate all of the money raised for charity, and it was obvious very quickly that this was the direction the 12 composers wanted to head.

Concerning the charity they chose to support, Capes 4 Heroes, composer Micah Brill said:

“There are lots of great charities out there but we wanted to pick one that we could all agree on to support. Ideally we wanted a charity that was legitimate and was a good fit for our project; it’s sad but a big consideration for donating to charities nowadays is whether or not it’s legitimate. Capes 4 Heroes has a great theme: they create superhero capes for children with disabilities. It was the clear winner for us. Capes 4 Heroes is basically a one-woman show, put on by the founder Barbara (Casado). The irony is that it’s a superhero-themed charity, but she’s basically a superhero.”

CAPES 4 HEROES CHARITY

THE FUTURE OF AUDIO COMIC UNIVERSE

Although the next steps of ACU are yet unwritten, all of the composers agree that they want to continue their superhero-themed journey in the future. Since the network of composers came together organically, they are keen on continuing to grow as a collective. Apart from adding further composers to the roster, some ideas for future releases include having teams of composers writing themes together or creating an album on which all songs are interpretations of themes for the same hero. The ACU collective seems to be very open-minded for new ideas and possibilities and invites anyone who’d like to participate by creating music, giving suggestions, or helping to organize things to get in touch.

If you’d like to participate, feel free to write an email to audiocomicuniverse@gmail.com.

FINAL NOTES

Audio Comic Universe was able to already raise some money with their first release, but not nearly as much as this charity and great production of this album is worth. If you’re reading this, please support this album.

Go and download over one hour of original epic orchestral music for only $5! and feel great about supporting a worthy cause. So if you’re into epic/orchestral music, comic book superheroes and villains, make sure to get yourself a copy of Audio Comic Universe – Volume One via their Bandcamp profile.

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