Lights celebrates National Comic Book Day

Singer Lights Enters a New World

For National Comic Book Day, the talented star creates her latest art piece exclusively for Playboy

It’s National Comic Book Day, and to mark the occasion, there was only one person Playboy could call to help properly celebrate it: Lights. With her groundbreaking album and comic series Skin & Earth, the Ontario-based musician and artist has proven to have superpowers—not unlike Skin & Earth’s flame-haired heroine, En—transcending realms and destroying boundaries in music and comics worlds, and beyond.

Since that album dropped a year ago, Lights has done some major touring—both headlining, and opening for PVRIS (Playboy profiled lead singer Lynn Gunn here). Lights has also released the completed series of comics she put out in conjunction with the record as one big graphic novel (six parts in one book), and made a huge impact on the comics world in general, via packed panels at Comic-Cons around the globe. And she won Pop Album of the Year at this year's Junos (essentially, the Canadian Grammys)!

Her goals for melding innovative visual art and new soundscapes, she says, have not only been realized, they’ve surpassed her expectations. Her strong female characters and the melodic expression of their thoughts, feelings and stories have clearly resonated with music and comics fans alike.
The fierce yet playful five-panel comic that she is sharing exclusively with Playboy is an alluring example of what she does so well. (The piece can be seen below.) With her original artwork and story, it portrays a futuristic, laser-fingered femme fighting animalistic evil robots in the darkness of eternal night. The idea was to evoke the “early sci-fi thing that was an influence on my music,” according to Lights.

“It’s recalling the Barbarella vibe, where she was so unwittingly sexy,” she explains further from her home in Canada. “She’s a badass, sexy chick, but there’s kind of a dorkiness to the story because that’s how all my characters are.”

We’d call Lights' characters and stories relatable and real, rather than dorky, but there is a humor and a lack of pretension in her work (both on record and in comic form) that’s inviting and fun to dive into. Even when she explores serious issues and bleak apocalyptic themes, her signature cuteness and sass is palpable.

“Comics are a lifelong career for most people, and here I am, a musician sauntering into the comic world, but it hasn’t been without a lot of passion,” says Lights. “I worked my ass off on [Skin & Earth] and did every single bit of it. What I didn't expect, and what probably surprised me the most, was the acceptance that I got in the community. It's just awesome. It's awesome to see music fans getting brought into that world, too. It's been a world that I've loved for a long time, and deserves as much readership as possible.“
It’s recalling the Barbarella vibe, where she was so unwittingly sexy.
Like many comics and graphic novels before hers, Lights' characters from Skin & Earth are on track to be seen on TV screens soon, too. It’s another dream that looks like it’s going be a reality, but Lights says it’s in the super-early stages. “It'll be live-action. I’m on as executive producer and consultant for key creative elements of the show,” she says. “Right now, we're just pulling together a basic-level core team to write a pilot to pitch to networks.”

Lights is also currently working on her next music project, which will naturally have an art component. While Skin & Earth had a very specific format and structure—including a track for each part of the story, and every chapter of the comic covered in song—she hasn’t decided yet how she’ll present her latest; it’s about a year away, and right now, she’s just enjoying the creative process.

“It's going to be hard to not want to do it,” Lights says of melding comics and music together in the future. “I've shown myself that I'm capable of something that I've always wanted to do. I think I'll stay with this story and character until she runs dry, or until it's over. And then I'll do another one. And who's to say that it'll always necessarily be connected to music? I'm not sure, but at least I know I have two passions in the art world that people seem to accept.”

She has not only found acceptance, she’s found respect, and though the music business can sometimes put performers in a box, artists like Lights are proving that expression comes in many different forms, and talent can transcend not only genres but mediums. “It’s that the ‘shut up and sing thing,’” she says wistfully. “It’s less now than it used to be, but people can be like, ‘This is what you do, and that's the only thing you're allowed to do … Don't try to do anything else.’ It's been awesome to be able to do both of these things that I love, and it’s actually inspired me to want to do more. I'm now learning how to tattoo! I got a bunch of tattoo machines, and I’ve been tattooing my friends. Why not do all those things you dreamed of, right?”

The year is 542542, and all the animals have evolved into evil robots. Remarkably, humans have remained mostly the same, except that they all have laser fingers and night vision, because in the year 542542, the world is only night (long story about the sun shrinking). Our hero prowls stylishly, heading home after a good scavenge of ancient ruins, unaware something is watching her …
A giant robotic tiger pounces, catching our hero off guard! She drops her bag of ancient crafting materials and springs into defense mode, lasers on! Damn, this is one of those tigers that possesses anti-laser technology that renders her only weapon useless against its impenetrable crust. What ever will she do??
Just when all seems lost, the robotiger stops cold, its aggressively glowing jaws frozen in time a mere inches from her face. Robotiger’s breath smelled of propane and amethyst. But wait—in the reflection of his eye, she can make out the silhouette of another human …
It’s another blade-hander, a beast master, spinning a cable with a plug. “All you had to do was … just unplug it?” questions our hero to the stranger. “Could world dominion over the evil animal-bots really have been this simple all along? Could we … just plug the sun back in, too?”
“God, no,” she replied. “That was just one of my electro-skirt tassels. I have a habit of twirling them. It appears the robo-beast just ran out of amethyst gas. But I can’t say the same for the huge swarm heading our way. So … you want to fight together or …?” “Yeah, sure,” our hero agreed casually. It is pretty hard to make friends in the future, so she wasn’t too picky about teaming up. So, together the girls set off on their ambitious and unique quest for the giant crystal key that would lead them to world domination and loads of treasure and good sex and stuff. The end.

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