Earlier this month, Magdalene Visaggio and Jen Vaughn's "punk rock, magical grrrl" comiXology Originals series, Teenage Wasteland returned to the (virtual) shelves. Described as "the action-packed comic where after school activities include transforming into galactic heroes and fighting monsters," the series centers on Ellie Tweed, "the jerkhole new girl in school who falls in with the wrong crowd, who happen to have an explosive secret: they aren't just teenage girls with attitude, they are the Earth's secret defenders! And Ellie is their newest recruit."
Just reading that synopsis, the title obviously chases a certain feeling -- one that can be approximated on film by a kick-ass soundtrack, something comics generally don't have. Lucky for us, though, the creative team put together a short playlist for ComicBook.com, spotlighting the songs they were listening to (or making associations with) while creating Teenage Wasteland's first couple of issues.
"I grew up watching Power Rangers and other toku imports, and when you're a kid, that stuff is a power fantasy," Visaggio said in a statement. "You get all these cool abilities and weapons and robots and fight evil. Who wouldn't want that? But the older I got, the more I started to see it differently: it's the weaponization of teenagers. And then you start seeing it everywhere, right up to classics like X-Men. So that seemed like a unique jumping-off point. How can you ever trust Zordon? What does it mean to make children fight your war for you? So that's the heart of it for me: questioning the premise of stuff like MMPR and looking at the way conflict defines people -- and shatters them."
"Mags' writing digs under your skin, she taps into the loneliness and hormone-fueled anxiety teens feel," added Vaughn. "Most teens want to be noticed, to belong, to be special, to be a chosen one. What's worse than being normal? Being an expendable in a long line of chosen ones."
Teenage Wasteland #1 and #2 are available to read now at no additional cost for members of Amazon Prime, Kindle Unlimited, and comiXology Unlimited and purchasable on comiXology and Kindle for $2.99. Print collected edition will be available via Print-on-Demand exclusively on Amazon.com. You can see the official "liner notes" for the Teenage Wasteland playlist below.
Jen Vaughn (artist):
Wasteland by Whirlpool - This song always felt like it embodied some of the rebellious punk spirit of the 90s and the top-of-the-lungs harmonizing always struck me - that wonderful moment you meet someone who has fire inside that's the same color as yours.
Mother, Mother by Tracy Bonham - Right on the edge of cheap cellphones flooding the market, this song summarized the eye-rolling angst of keeping a second face to you parents: the perfect student but depressed, the sports star but addicted to drugs, the first chair violinist with only enemies.
None of Your Business - Salt 'n' Pepa - Damn right this was the first cassette tape I bought with my own money. I had like 10% what 'take a guy home with me tonight' meant but putting it in the car radio for my dad was a bit more than eye-opening!
Lovefool - The Cardigans - This song was notes passed on notebook paper between classes, dropped in lockers, and onto lunch trays. Finding the right pen, making sure to add a drawing and occasionally a Caesar shift for fun.
Only Happy When It Rains - Garbage (or Stupid Girl) - This was my first CD and Garbage commercialized some of shoegaze that was a constant thread in
Magdalene Visaggio (writer):
Bullet with Butterfly Wings - Smashing Pumpkins - Parents don't understand, older siblings are narcs. That's it. Our earth is dying and no one with power is helping us - what's worse is this hasn't changed much in 20 years.
Here and Now - Letters to Cleo - Fuck yes, the wondrous sounds of Kay Hanley. Don't hold me a woman (or anyone) back. I wanted to be her - even more so when she did the vocals for the Josie and the Pussycats movie.
Wonderwall – Oasis - came into my life as an important song later, but it's the symbol of a time that changed my life, when I met my best friend around my 12's.
Wannabe - Spice Girls - Wannabe because the Spice Girls were my first favorite band ever (I was around 5 years old when Wannabe was published) and It was the first cassette I ever bought with my own money.0comments
Magdalene Visaggio is the Eisner and GLAAD Media Award-nominated writer behind Kim & Kim, Eternity Girl, Dazzler: X Song, Transformers vs Visionaries, and Quantum Teens Are Go. In addition to her comics work, she's blogged a bunch (now rightfully deleted) and is an occasional contributor at Paste Magazine, focusing on comics and culture.
Jen Vaughn is the cartoonist behind the writing of Goosebumps: Download and Die drawing Betty and Veronica's Vixens, as well as drawing covers for the comic series My Little Pony, Pathfinder, The Wilds, Hack/Slash vs Vampirella and more. She also plays a tiefling ranger, Riot Bonezerker, in the popular D&D podcast, d20 Dames.