Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz admits to not being an avid fan of comic books. When he started chatting with Los Angeles designer Darren Romanelli about developing a visual project with the band, however, the idea of creating a comic seemed like a natural fit.
"We were both kindred spirits in terms of creating cohesive art on multiple platforms," Wentz says. The collaboration between Romanelli and the band led to "Fall Out Toy Works," a five-part series published by Image Comics, with the first installment released September 2.
A futuristic parable involving a toymaker and his robotic female creation, "Toy Works" is loosely based on "Tiffany Blews," a track on Fall Out Boy's multiplatinum album "Folie a Deux."
A fan of Romanelli's fashion line, Wentz initially approached him about designing the stage for Fall Out Boy's tour. Romanelli wanted to work on something more ambitious with the band as well, and after Wentz sent him a few songs, "Tiffany Blews" struck him as the perfect opportunity.
"Once we started brainstorming, we realized a lot of the lyrics have a certain grittiness to them," Romanelli says. "From there, the idea just snowballed into a comic."
The band and Romanelli put together a team of animation heavyweights for the project, including "Bulletproof Monk" writer Brett Lewis and Imaginary Friends Studios' Sam Basri for artwork.
The self-funded comic-book series is the latest endeavor in the band's string of nonmusic projects since the 2008 release of "Deux." Wentz opened a Los Angeles art gallery with Gym Class Heroes' Travis McCoy in December, and in March the band unveiled "Fall Out Boy Trail," a videogame that riffs on the computer classic "Oregon Trail."
When it comes to "Toy Works," however, Fall Out Boy is committed to giving its far-reaching concept time to breathe. "The biggest thing is that it needed to feel like an entire world encapsulated in a comic," Wentz says. "It's essentially about creating the perfect girl and artificial love, and we wanted to explore the morality in that."
Publication of the series' subsequent issues, which retail for $3.99 each, will be staggered throughout next year; a full-color collector's edition will be available in spring 2010. A motion-animation companion to the comic, featuring voice work by Wentz and Fall Out Boy singer Patrick Stump, will also be available online in conjunction with the release of the second issue. The electronic version, which is now being previewed in an online teaser trailer, will be available on iPhone and iPod applications as well.
Fall Out Boy continues to work on new music, but Wentz believes "Toy Works" is another creative way of reaching out to fans in the meantime. "Music and entertainment are changing so fast, we need to be ahead of the curve," he says. "With stuff like this, we hope people can feel like they're a part of what we're doing."