A THOMAS RIVER Playlist: Sound Handpicked For Roguish Badassery

From creators Brian Stelfreeze and Doug Wagner comes a sharp, intelligent new secret agent comic series in the form of Thomas River, and they decided it deserved its own soundtrack. This politically charged and intense series follows an African American master spy investigating attacks against American cities, all while dealing with the turbulent racial divide in the United States. The unexpected complexity of this Kickstarter comic is matched by the music the two creators have picked for it and will make for a kick-ass soundtrack to go along with the reading experience.

Brian Stelfreeze
I enjoy thinking of a specific soundtrack when I’m drawing certain scenes. It helps me to think of things rhythmically rather than artistically. Different beats and tempos push me to draw different lines.
Pharoahe Monch, “Simon Says”
Accepting the mental of bad-ass. This is the song I think of when Thomas makes the decision to start dropping bodies. It just feels like one of those “you just made me mad” slow-motion sequences.
Leonard Cohen, “You Want It Darker”
RSVP from the devil. I think of this song when the character struggles against their darker half. It has those hunting tones of standing on the abyss.
Barbatuques, “Baianá”
Let the big dog hunt. This is the music I hear when Thomas becomes the silent killer and he’s armed only with a knife and darkness.
Saul Williams, ” List Of Demands (Reparations)”
No time to bleed. I think of the song for those timebomb situations. When Thomas has half the time to do what needs to be done but he charges into action anyways.
Michael Nyman, “The Departure”
The dying of the light. This is for those forlorn moments of impossible sadness.
Shaggy, “Boombastic”
Challenged by an idiot. This is more for a comedic relief. When someone woefully underestimates Thomas and he has to put them in their place.
Nortec Collective: Bostitch, “Polaris”
Is that all you got? This is for one of those long action single camera tracking shots.
Hans Zimmer, “Mombassa”
Thinking of action. I think of the song when Thomas has to carry out a plan. Those moments when thinking quickly is just as important as fighting.
LL Cool J, “Goin Back To Cali” (instrumental)
Cool whip. Let’s be serious here, you’ve got to have some driving music to show off the ride.

Doug Wagner
Hannah Grace, “Praise You”
Before starting each writing session for Thomas River #1, I’d give Hannah a listen. For me, her cover of “Praise You” has the perfect balance of grimness and hope that I wanted to portray in the first issue. It set my creative mind in the proper state before ever typing a word.
Frida “I Know There’s Something Going On”
I always tend to throw in an ’80s classic into my rotation for every story. There’s just something about those songs from my teen years that brings an edge to my writing approach. This song just seemed to fit the paranoia and secrecy of everything happening behind the scenes in Thomas River. In my head, Thomas always has an itch nagging him from somewhere in his subconscious. He knows that forces are always at play and it’s just a matter of time before he is called to face them.
Ruelle, “Live Like Legends” 
Much like “Praise You,” this song speaks to the solemness I wanted to convey in this first issue. It also kept reminding me that everyone is a hero in their own story. It became the theme song for both Thomas AND Amena. Once you read it, you’ll understand.
Natasha Blume, “Black Sea”
I needed this particular song to constantly remind me of the allure of death, the peacefulness that calls from the thought of it just all being over and quiet. Yes, that sounds dark.
Tatiana DeMaria, “Anxiety” (Acoustic)  
Tatiana has a certain edginess in her acoustic work that makes the hackles on my neck stand up and makes me instantaneously introspective. I listened to this before writing the scene with Amena and Uncle Aaron in the subway. It encapsulated the feel I thought Amena was experiencing in that moment.
Taylor Swift, “Bad Blood”
I have to laugh at myself a little bit with this one, and yes, I know it’s a strange choice, but hear me out. It felt right for the President’s speech and final ultimatum. I needed a little attitude and Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar did it for me.
Hans Zimmer, Backdraft Soundtrack
The Backdraft soundtrack is always my go-to when I need an injection of badassery. I use it all the time to help me work out storylines, and it is the perfect soundtrack for Thomas River.
“Thomas River is known as a world-renowned engineer among his metropolitan friends. He jets around the globe as a consultant to the biggest engineering firms, but that is simply a cover. In reality, River is the quintessential secret agent—equivalent to Jason Bourne, Ethan Hunt, and James Bond in every manner but one… he is a Black man. Raised by his working-class family in Baltimore, Thomas was an exceptionally gifted student. While he could have gone down the wrong path, and almost did, Thomas’ mother simply wouldn’t let it happen. After buckling down, Thomas earned a full-ride to  Cornell, where he double-majored in Structural Engineering and Linguistics. Graduating with honors, the CIA saw his true potential and recruited him into their ranks. And he did not disappoint.”
Head Over to the Thomas River Kickstarter to start reading!
Justin Munday
Justin Munday
Reader and hoarder of comics. Quietly sipping coffee, reading, and watching sci-fi in Knoxville, TN.