In Conversation With LITTLE EARTHQUAKES: THE GRAPHIC ALBUM Editor Rantz Hoseley

TORI AMOS AND Z2 COMICS PARTNER FOR LITTLE EARTHQUAKES 30TH ANNIVERSARY GRAPHIC NOVEL AND VINYL RELEASE

This unique graphic novel creation celebrating Tori Amos’s landmark album features the massive talents of writers such as Neil Gaiman (Sandman, American Gods) and Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale), as well as artists like David Mack, Colleen Doran, and Bilquis Evely.

I got to sit down and chat with Z2 editor and the man overseeing this project Rantz Hoseley. Here we discussed the process for getting this team of creators together, the links between comics and music as storytelling mediums, and more.

 

MFR: Tori Amos has almost always been inextricably tied to the comics medium in some way or another. That in mind, was the idea for Little Earthquakes: The Graphic Album something that had been brewing for years, or something that suddenly struck as the 30th anniversary approached?

RH: Well, this can be traced back to me staying at Tori’s place in Hollywood while she was writing and recording Little Earthquakes. I was interviewing for a position on The Simpsons, and there was a lot of waiting to hear back from the studio, so I would go to Hi De Ho and Golden Apple and buy a lot of comics, and that resulted in stacks of comics lying all around her place, so one day she was asking ‘which of these should I read?’ and I gave her the ‘Calliope’ issue of The Sandman, and that was that. She was hooked.

I don’t think at the time I thought, ‘oh, this music should have a comic book component,’ but certainly after Comic Book Tattoo the two of us have kept an eye out for an opportunity to do a graphic novel project again. With the 30th anniversary of Little Earthquakes, plus me being at Z2, it made sense to ‘put the band back together,’ so to speak.

MFR: You have assembled a group of some of the most monstrously talented storytellers on the planet contributing to this book; from writers Neil Gaiman to Margaret Awood, to artists such as David Mack, Colleen Doran, and a personal favorite of mine in Bilquis Evely. How did you manage to get this sort of talent to fill this book with their interpretations of Amos’s work?

RH: I think it’s a combo of the success of Comic Book Tattoo. Creators very clearly know what level of quality we’re aiming for in putting this together… and a love and appreciation for the poetry and depth in Tori’s music. I’ve tried to include some folks who are icons when it comes to storytelling, and some folks who I think are some of the most promising newer creators in comics and prose. It was the approach that I took with CBT, and it ended up being very successful, so if anything it’s just refining the formula and approach. That’s the nature of creative work at its best, really—keep moving it forward, and learn from experience in the past to do work to push the boundaries in the storytelling form.

MFR: Other than Amos’s obvious love for the comics medium, how did you figure that the lyrical storytelling of Little Earthquakes could be reinterpreted into a collection of comic stories?

RH: A big part of why Tori’s music and lyrics work so well in comics is because there’s a lot of secondary and tertiary meaning in how she structures a line. She plays with theme and allegory and narrative tangents in a way that echoes the liminal process of how thought works. Since it isn’t declarative and literal, there’s a lot of room for personal attachment and interpretation. It’s the same reason her music resonates with so many people.

MFR: Related to that last question, you and the folks at Z2 have been pumping out graphic novels by musicians about their music left and right – several of which I’ve covered myself. What is it about the comics medium that you think makes it uniquely suited for these adaptations and/or reimaginings of musicians’ work?

 

RH: Structurally, they are very similar. They both rely on elements of timing and ‘beats’ to convey emotional impact. A full page spread echoes a long held note. A series of small identical panels echo the effect of a staccato rhythm pattern. I spend a lot of time examining the formalist aspects of storytelling, and I think that they work together because of a combination of that echo in structure, and the fact that the surge you get from a dramatic moment in comics is very similar to the surge you get from a powerful moment in music. They are both an internal, personal, interpretive experience, where the audience’s individual background and perception of it plays a critical role in the experience of consuming it. Much moreso than most films or TV shows.

 

MFR: Do you think any of this awesome work – from Amos’s incredible discography to this graphic album – would have turned out the way it did if you hadn’t slipped Neil Gaiman that demo tape? 

 

RH: I’m a huge fan of Kieślowski’s films, and a recurring theme in his work—Blind ChanceThe Double Life Of Veronique, etc—is the idea of possible vectors that a life can take. What the outcome could be. In the exchange of one possibility, what do you gain? What do you lose? TL;DR – “What Ifs.”

On a personal level, I think ‘what ifs’ are great for storytelling, but from a real-life point of view, I don’t really consider them. I’m much more practical and pragmatic about it. I gave Neil the tape… and I can’t honestly even say how much impact it had on Tori’s career, or on mine, or on Neil’s. Tori and Neil and I are all friends, and that is certainly the one measurable impact of me giving Neil the cassette, but past that? There are too many variables to even consider vectors and outcomes, honestly.

 

 

Released in 1992, Amos’ debut album Little Earthquakes established her iconic thematic voice, as well as her live intensity behind the keys with unflinching lyrics and songs that would inspire generations of artists and musicians. Thirty years later, Z2 will publish a graphic novel that demonstrates the lasting influence of this defining work with 24 stories inspired by the 12 songs on the album, as well as the 12 ‘B-sides’ that accompanied the album and its associated singles. The book will be assembled by Z2 editor Rantz Hoseley, who previously edited the multi-award-winning Comic Book Tattoo, and who painted the cover for her recent Christmastide EP.

Tori Amos says “To have some of the most creative graphic artists interpret the songs from Little Earthquakes, is a true honor. I enjoyed working with Rantz on Comic Book Tattoo so much that when he contacted me about putting something together for the 30th Anniversary, I had no hesitation. Artwork is such an important part of my musical world and to see these songs come to life in graphic form is such a joy.”

Editor Rantz Hoseley states “Having been present during the writing of many of these songs, I can tell you they are inextricably bound to comics. They were on the early demo cassette that I snuck to Neil Gaiman at the San Diego Comic-Con in 1991, telling him ‘this is my friend, she sings about you, please don’t sue her.’ It’s been too long since Comic Book Tattoo, and it’s truly a pleasure to get to make comics with Tori again.”

Tori Amos is a classically trained pianist and singer-songwriter, who came to prominence in 1992 with Little Earthquakes, an album spun out of her religious upbringing and struggle to establish her individual identity. The album served as her commercial and artistic breakthrough, entering the British charts in January 1992 at #15. Little Earthquakes was released in the United States 30 years ago in February and slowly, but steadily, began to attract listeners, gaining attention with the video for the first single, “Silent All These Years.” Since that time, Amos has sold over 12 million albums across 16 releases, with her most recent effort, Ocean to Ocean, released in October 2021.

This graphic novel release demonstrates the breadth of impact of Amos’ work through the 24 stories inspired by the album and its accompanying B-sides. The contributors to the book are an all-star cast of literary and artistic talent, including Tori’s longtime friend Neil Gaiman (The Sandman, American Gods) telling a tale inspired by “Tear In Your Hand” with artist Bilquis Evely (The Dreaming), and legendary author Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale) who will bring to life the iconic song “Silent All These Years” with acclaimed artist David Mack (Kabuki), who has also painted the stunning cover. Other contributors include Leah Moore, Colleen Doran, Derek McCulloch, Lar deSouza, Annie Zaleski, Marc Andreyko, Cat Mihos, Neil Kleid, and Alison Sampson. A full list of participating creators and the stories they are creating will be released on March 11th, coinciding with the first part of Tori’s Ocean to Ocean tour.

Little Earthquakes: The Graphic Album will be available in three editions. The 8”x8” standard hardcover edition will be released in finer bookstores, comic shops, and record stores everywhere in September 2022, and will be available for pre-order through Z2 and ToriAmos.com. The limited Deluxe and Platinum Artists Editions will be available exclusively through Z2’s website in limited quantities.

The oversized 12”x12” Deluxe Edition will be limited to 1,450 units, which will come packaged in a collectors slipcase, with vinyl releases of Little Earthquakes and the previously unavailable vinyl picture disc of Little Earthquakes: The B Sides, as well as 12”x12” art prints by Comic Book Tattoo contributors Jason Levesque, KAKO, and David Mack.

The Platinum Artists Edition is limited 500 copies, and includes the signed and numbered oversized 12”x12” graphic novel with a foil embossed hardcover, the vinyl album of Little Earthquakes and the exclusive B-Sides picture disc vinyl, prints by Jason Levesque and KAKO, and a print of the cover signed by David Mack and Tori Amos, and a sketchbook/diary, contained in a die-cut clamshell collectors box that echoes the wooden crate that is synonymous with the cover of this album. There will not be a second pressing of the limited picture disc vinyl of Little Earthquakes: The B-Sides that is available with the Deluxe and Platinum editions.

Reserve yours here!

Justin Munday
Justin Munday
Reader and hoarder of comics. Quietly sipping coffee, reading, and watching sci-fi in Knoxville, TN.

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