In July, the Go-Go’s embark on a three-week Farewell Tour, saying goodbye after 30 years as one of rock’s pioneering all-female bands. But between the July 22 San Francisco show and the band’s July 24 stop in L.A., guitarist Jane Wiedlin will rush down to San Diego to celebrate her next creative chapter: the “Lady Robotika” comic book series, co-created with Simpsons artist Bill Morrison. The series, published by Image Comics, launches at San Diego’s enormous annual Comic Con International with the first of six monthly issues.
The story stars Wiedlin herself as a rocker who is abducted by aliens, experimented on in her sleep, and transformed into a cyborg. Lady Robotika then becomes a super-powered heroine, defending the planet’s slave class against its evil Emperor.
“It was obviously a great opportunity for me to become a superhero, so I wanted to be the character,” says Wiedlin, laughing. “You know, you get to have a lot of your fantasies come true. I’m writing the story, and I wanted to incorporate things I really love, so it’s very sci-fi slanted–aliens and robots and space and flying saucers.” Other comics-loving musicians have turned to writing series, including Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance and Coheed and Cambria’s Claudio Sanchez, but those stories don’t feature the artists as characters.
Wiedlin met Morrison, a 20-year veteran of the comics industry, at San Jose comic convention SuperCon three years ago. “A lot of comic conventions go way beyond comic books and include other parts of pop culture, like celebrities and science fiction and movies and books,” says Wiedlin. “So I go to them either as a celebrity, or as a fan, because I’m a big sci-fi geek.” Morrison moderated a panel that Wiedlin was a part of, and they hit it off quickly. “We decided we wanted to do some kind of project together–even though I wasn’t a huge comics collector, we thought it would be fun to do a comic book together.”
Although Wiedlin doesn’t doesn’t have a long history with comic books, she’s recently become a fan. “I didn’t read many comics as a kid–I’ve always been a really fast reader, and I would fly through a comic book in a few minutes and be so mad that it ended so quickly,” says Wiedlin. “But now that I’ve been in the business, I tend to look at the panels so much more carefully, and realize that so much of it is about the art, I don’t think I got that before.” She has also been drawn to long-form, adult-geared graphic novels such as Bill Willingham’s “Fables” and Brian K. Vaughan’s “Y: The Last Man”.
After the first six issues of Lady Robotika are published, they’ll be collected into a bound graphic novel and released with a companion album of all new music. “I’ve been writing all these Lady Robotika-inspired songs,” says Wiedlin, whose character in the book will naturally do a lot of in-story performing for the alien hordes.
Wiedlin also says she’s conceiving a Lady Robotika musical that, if all goes well, she would aim to launch in San Francisco next year. “Now that I’m living in San Francisco, I figured it would be the best place to stage something in, there’s so much theater in this town,” she says. “In New York theater is so serious, and in L.A. it’s a stepsister to the music and film business. But up here I feel like people do live productions because they want to and they love it.”
As Wiedlin’s work with the Go-Go’s comes to an end, Lady Robotika is one of her largest projects, but not her only. The co-writer of hits including “Our Lips Our Sealed” and Keith Urban’s country smash “But for the Grace of God,” Wiedlin still writes and produces, and is building a studio with her partner, musician and producer Travis Kasperbauer. She recently contributed a track to Velvet Underground tribute compilation “American Velvet,” and in 2009 became an ordained minister to perform wedding and commitment ceremonies under the name Reverend Sister Go-Go.