Blacklight District

Jesse Blaze Snider joins us to talk about his new album / comic book combination BLACKLIGHT DISTRICT. Named after his home studio, this bombastic and poignant album comes from an all-star collaboration effort with: Jason Pearson, Chris Burnham, Andrew Dalhouse, J.K Woodward, Andrea Tamme, David Witt, Michael Spicer and Phil Hester with Erik Larsen and Chris Eliopoulous rocking the old school coloring and lettering comic book fans know and love. BLACKLIGHT DISTRICT comes in the form of six short indie comics set to music written by Will Knox and Jesse Blaze Snider himself.

Comic books compel Jesse due to their high, end-of-the-world stakes. Jesse was determined to bring that same sense of scope and meaning to the world of music. BLACKLIGHT DISTRICT is Jesse’s love letter to comic books and music, the two mediums Jesse holds the dearest to his heart.

The six short comics that are set to the music of Jesse Blaze Snider.

ComicsVerse: Where did the inspiration for BLACKLIGHT DISTRICT come from?

Jesse Blaze Snider: It began with the music which was me trying to find myself as a solo artist. At the time, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do as a musician style-wise. I like a wide variety of things. I am a huge comic book fan and comic book writer, I’ve written some Marvel and DC and Disney and Pixar and the Muppets and plenty of different people.

The thing that I like the most about writing for comic books is that largely, the stakes are the end of the world. Whether it is the literal end of the world and Superman has to push the planet out of the way or the stakes are smaller and it’s just an individual person who, if Daredevil doesn’t show up, they’re going to die or their life is going to change in some terrible way. That is what always drew me to comic books. I thought if I could take that emotional drama from comics and the high stakes from comics and put it into music then I would really have something.

My producer, Will Nox, really embraced the idea when we got in. Black Light District is the name of my home studio where I write my comic book scripts and where I produce my music and record voice-overs. It is just covered wall to wall with comic book posters, music posters, movie posters and the things that I love, the things that inspire me the most. Will would sit in there every day and he would look around. He would be inspired by something new. I would come in and I’d say “Hey man, what have we got?” He was like, “Listen to this, it’s called Green.” He’d say “I’ve been looking at this Hulk statue on this desk. I was just thinking man, he’s jealous.”

That would be the beginning of our story. What ended up as the least personal, because we were just taking inspirations from modern mythology, became my most personal songs I’d ever written where I really got to talk about things that I never planned to talk about, like depression and stuff like that. It all began with comic books as the inspiration to make music from the comic books. The last song that we wrote was Symptoms. When we finished Symptoms, I just had this vision of the zombie politicians and greed being passed around Washington as this awesome cool indie comic. I really wanted to get Tony Moore, at the time, to do it. He wasn’t available when it came time to call him.

From that moment on, I was like “Oh my goodness, I have to turn this into a comic. This is just built for comics. It’s a soundtrack for comic books.” Specifically the song, Manhattan, which is inspired by Dr. Oppenheimer who was the head of the Manhattan project which created the A-Bomb. That song is also about comic books because, duly, I couldn’t help but feel very much the same emotion about writing for comic books, writing for the big two.

There’s this thing, most of us are not the presidents and the rich people. We are the people that work for them. Working for Marvel and DC, working for the government to create the A-Bomb, giving all of your best ideas not knowing what’s going to be done with them. Not knowing if anything’s going to be done with them and certainly whether or not they might be turned into something worse or not what you originally intended. I felt that all of the time writing for the big two comics. Even down to the one song that wasn’t meant to be a comic somehow ended up being a personal song about me writing for comics and writing for people who would control my ideas and I wouldn’t have a say in how things were executed. I was always unhappy with how that system works and how it came out.

READ: Our interview with CANNIBAL writers and artist Brian Buccellato, Jennifer Young and Matias Bergara.


CV: How did everyone end up coming together to make BLACKLIGHT DISTRICT a reality?

JBS: I’ve been writing comic books for the better part of a decade and I’m a younger guy, and not as seasoned as some, but it’s not for lack of trying. Generally, a decade of business just, I made a hell of a lot of friends. I just started reaching out to all of my favorite people who would kind of become decent friends over the years. Some of them weren’t available and some of them were. Jason Pearson was available. I was really pleased to get J.K Woodward to come in. J.K did some of the greatest freaking work of his career.

It’s just lots of different friendships.  I reached out to Phil Hester, whose work I had been a great fan of for a long time, and I didn’t know him that well. I knew him well enough to ask and he said “Yeah, I’d love to do it. I really like this song.” Once I had him in place, I said “Hey, we’ve got Phil Hester and we’re doing this old school comics thing and it’s a dedication. All of the artists that have been kind of screwed over all of the years, would you do some old school colors on it for Eric Larsen and old school letters for Chris Leopolis?” They were like “Yeah! We’d be down, let’s do it.” I just kind of kept reaching out to people.

Somebody said no, move on to the next person on my list who I knew and liked and liked their work and see who I could get. I reached out to Jeff Darrow and Tony Moore who were some of my early cover people. Thankfully, Chris Burnham has been a friend of mine since we both started in comics. He got a leg up much faster than I was able to, but I’ve known him since we were both teenagers. It was sort of kids knit. We’d never worked together, we’d always wanted to. He did the best freaking cover that I couldn’t have imagined in a million years. I really mean that. He seems to love it, too. He said that it was like his favorite thing that he’s ever done at the last convention I saw him at.

I was so happy to hear that. I just wanted to create great artistic situations. I believe that I had some really great music and I just wanted people to take this little inspiration and see what came from that. Depending on the situation, I gave a little bit more direction or whatever else based on what the song was about. Largely, I just let everybody do the great work that they do. I approached people who are great. I said, “Hey, here’s an opportunity to be great.” Nobody disappointed me.


CV: What was the message you were trying to convey with BLACKLIGHT DISTRICT?

JBS: I think my inspiration is I want to get through to people. Zack de la Rocha, the lead singer of Rage against the Machine, got very frustrated that people only superficially took on their messages. I’m hoping to get through to people but being a bit more chic about how I go about trying to deliver these messages.

We really need to question what we’ve been told. We really need to ask for more and it’s just the paradigm right now is just ridiculous. There’s a lot more millennials than there are baby boomers in every other generation and we have the power to take the power from these people who have been in control for years and years and have not saved the planet, have not made things better. They’re still dealing with the stupid message that they were dealing with 100 years ago. It’s time for the kids to say “You guys are done playing, it’s our turn.”

That’s what the message is about, it’s about rallying my generation to wake up and be a part of the conversation and change the world because it needs changing.

READ: Our “More of Everything” interview with Sophie Campbell at FlameCon ’16.

CV: What work, outside of BLACKLIGHT DISTRICT and comic books, are you the most proud of?

JBS: Outside of comic books? I am a pretty successful host and voice-over actor. Forget that. I’m trying to thinking because I’m like “Well, I’m proud of that.” No, sorry. I’m going with the bullet. Forget voice-over stuff. I’m a natural champion semi-pro football player.

I played through high school, I didn’t play in college but after college I went and I joined a semi-pro team in Brooklyn. We went on to win a national championship probably a decade ago now in 2007, I think. I got a ring and shortly after that, I got injured and I haven’t played since but, all I ever wanted was to win a championship like one of those teams in one of those sweet movies. I finally did it and it was time for me to move on but, that’s something I’m proud about outside of writing comic books.

I’m also number 1 on Reverbnation right now in California and Los Angeles, which is nice.

CV: After making BLACKLIGHT DISTRICT, if you could offer any words of advice to other writers, musicians, or just creators out there, what would they be?

JBS: Don’t give up, and I mean that on more than one level. One of the biggest things that stops people, I think in this day and age, is radio silence. “I texted them, they didn’t get back to me. I emailed them, they didn’t get back to me.” Once you’ve waited the appropriate amount of time, text them again, email them again. Keep following up with them. Just be happy as can be, never ever get upset because somebody hasn’t gotten back to you. There’s just a million innocent reasons why somebody might not get back to you.

It doesn’t necessarily mean – obviously, you’re not Elvis or you wouldn’t have been going to them, hat-in-hand, in the first place for them to read your script or whatever. There is some amount of prestige, you’re not the person that they’re going to jump to read your thing but, if you keep showing up very kindly going “Hey! It’s me again! Hey, how are you doing?” Over time, you actually make the other person feel bad because, here this nice kid Jesse Snider keeps hitting me up and I keep not getting back to them! It’s just common courtesy to get back to people. People want to get back to you generally.  That’s just a sure way to screw yourself for forever. Always keep a positive demeanor.


Always assume that nobody ever meant anything against you. Take any feedback as a positive sign that people want to help you and want to do right by you on any level. Just never stop following up and asking people questions and asking “Is there an opportunity or is there a way that I can do whatever?” If somebody says that they would like to do something for you like “You can email me” or whatever else then, they have agreed. They have agreed, they have said okay. Once they say okay, as long as you are wonderful and kind and reasonable as easy to be. There’s no reason why you can’t contact them until you’re blue in the face. Allow a little bit of time to go by and never be upset because they haven’t gotten back to you in a fast way.

That’s my biggest bit of advice. You can just keep pushing through and you will succeed.  If they didn’t get back to, do you know how many emails they have per day? Do you know how easy it is to forget about one email with one person that you met for 2 minutes at a convention?

That’s it, that’s the big one. That goes for everybody in every field across the planet. Never stop following up with the people who say that they want to try to help you.

OPEN: To see our Indie Spotlight Cover of Wesley Sun of Sun Bros Studios.

For those who want to check out BLACKLIGHT DISTRICT, you can go to Jesse’s dedicated BLACKLIGHT DISTRICT site here, or check it out on his YouTube Channel. For what Jesse is doing outside of BLACKLIGHT DISTRICT, you can check out his website here, or follow him on Twitter.

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