Experiencing Led Zeppelin in Comic Book Form: Interview With Jay Allen Sanford

 Probably the most famous Rock-n-Roll song of all time is “Stairway to Heaven” putting the rock band Led Zeppelin, with members Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Bonham and John Paul Jones, on the map forever. And with Bluewater Comics hammering their niche with bio-comic genres like “Female Force” and “Political Power,” it made sense that Bluewater would revive the bio-series “Rock-N-Roll” from the 1990s from Revolutionary Comics. Or as the Bluewater Press release said it, “The Led Zeppelin saga is one of the wildest in rock history, and this graphic novel pulls no punches in dramatizing the backstage, behind-the-scenes story. From their early days as the New Yardbirds on through their rise to superstardom (and controversy), all five issues of the original ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics’ series are collected in one rockin’ volume, with art by Scott Pentzer (Razor), Marshall Ross (Deepest Dimension), David Neer (Sports Superstars), Francois Escalmel (Frank Zappa: Viva La Bizarre), and others. The collection also includes update material, bringing the saga up to 2010.” Volume Four features Zeppelin, which was written by Spike Steffenhagen, and Cosmic Book News spoke with “Rock-n-Roll Comics Volume Four: The Led Zeppelin Experience” editor Jay Allen Sanford about the comic and his interest in these heavy metal heroes. COSMIC BOOK NEWS:  What attracted you to Led Zeppelin? JAY ALLEN SANFORD: One of the early “Rock-n-Roll Comics” issues was on Zeppelin (#13), but I always felt it was a poor effort (other than some of the Greg Fox artwork). Once we started doing multi-issue miniseries on bands, Zeppelin seemed well worth five issues to chronicle their story properly. COSMIC BOOK NEWS: Oh, so were you a fan? JAY ALLEN SANFORD: I was definitely a fan back in the day. I lived two hours away in Connecticut and I and hitchhiked, arriving just in time for the show, which was one of Zeppelin’s last U.S. shows on June 13th, 1977 at Madison Square Garden . I understand it’s available on a bootleg called “Over the Garden,” but I haven’t come across it yet. I got back to Connecticut just in time for the next school day to start, still wearing my concert shirt. COSMIC BOOK NEWS:   How and where did you get enough information on the band for a 5-comic series? JAY ALLEN SANFORD: [Former “Rock-N-Roll” publisher] Revolutionary Comics publisher Todd Loren and I spent years buying stacks of old rock magazine and books, tearing them up to create an archive of band files that eventually filled ten four-drawer cabinets. The Led Zeppelin file was naturally thick, especially with old ‘Circus’ and ‘Creem’ magazine articles, plus a few books on the band. The writer of that series, Spike Steffenhagen, did some of his best career work on the scripts -- I still have all those files, though the internet has made it easy to find any and all details about bands like that. COSMIC BOOK NEWS:  Should the surviving members of Led Zeppelin read your comics, do you think they’d be pleased? JAY ALLEN SANFORD: I don’t know about pleased, but I doubt they’d feel insulted, slandered, or libeled. COSMIC BOOK NEWS: [LAUGHS] That is good. Switching tracks a little how did you get into this business, you’ve got quite an impressive resume. JAY ALLEN SANFORD: I started writing back in the late ‘80s for film magazines like “Starlog” and “Filmfax.”  COSMIC BOOK NEWS: With all of that already under your belt, what attracted you to Bluewater Comics? JAY ALLEN SANFORD: They seem to be following in Revolutionary Comics’ footsteps by producing reality-based comics for markets outside comic shops, and I’ve probably worked on more such comics than anyone alive. I believe strongly in the educational and entertainment potential of true-life comics, and in 2009 there are lots of new ways to make them happen, from internet comics to comic readers for iPhones and beyond. And everyone at Revolutionary put a lot of work into those rock comics – many of the stories are timeless, so I feel it’s a great time to get them back out there. COSMIC BOOK NEWS: Jay, thanks so much for your time! For more information, visit Bluewaterprod.com.