Biographies are as much a vital part of rock music history as electric guitars and amps that go up to 11.
Formed in Leeds in 1985, The Wedding Present have been captivating audiences for almost three decades. And now they have started to tell their story – in comic book form.
“I’ve always been a massive comic book fan and this is a comic with me in it,” says front-man David Gedge.
“I’ve been into comics my whole life, there’s just something about medium that’s always appealed to me – I think it’s the combination of the word and image.
“I remember my dad used to bring me Marvel and DC comics home from work, and just thinking ‘this is brilliant’. Then I got into all the British comics and the graphic novels in the 80s,” says Gedge.
The comic, entitled Tales from the Wedding Present, brings together a range of stories about life on the road.
The project was started by group’s former bass-player, Terry de Castro. In 2007, de Castro started doing research for a traditional biography of David Gedge and the band.
“She did quite a bit of research, interviewed my parents, that kind of stuff,” says Gedge. “It didn’t have momentum for some reason and just fizzled out – which I thought was a real shame.
“I contacted a friend of mine who’s a comic book artist, and asked if he’d make a comic book out of the research that had been gathered. I sent him all the stuff and he started turning it into short stories to do a comic book,” adds Gedge.
Comic artist Lee Thacker has been a fan of The Wedding Present since he first heard them on the John Peel show in the mid-80s.
Today, the Birmingham-based artist balances comic writing with his career as a primary school teacher.
“I’ve probably seen them every time they’ve played locally over the past 25 years or so. I’ve always been a fan, always followed them, and I think I always will,” says Thacker.
“The band used to do their own self-published fanzine back in the late-80s called Invasion of the Wedding Present.
“Fans used to contribute artwork to it and comic strips – so I got involved way back then. I had a few comic strips published in that and David really liked them,” he says.
“David got in touch saying that Terry was writing a biography about the Wedding Present, and they wanted some of the stories illustrated. I illustrated about five of the stories, but then nothing really came of it.
“In 2010, David came up with the idea of doing a comic book based on the stories that he’d sent me in 2007,” adds Thacker.
The comic is a part-time project that both Gedge and Thacker really enjoy doing.
“We’re hoping to do two or three issues a year. We’ve just finished the fourth issue and Lee’s done a really good job,” says Gedge.
“We’re not like Marvel or anything like that, we’ve just been selling them at gigs and on the website, but I think it’s brilliant.
“I’ve been really excited about it, more so than the music to be honest.”
Each issue takes approximately four to six months to put together, from the scripting of the stories to producing the comic panels ready for printing. “When we eventually finished the first Tales from the Wedding Present, I thought that was going to be it – I thought it would just be a one-shot comic,” says Thacker.
“We did a print run of 300 copies – they sold out really quickly, so we printed another 200 more.
“The fans really seemed to like the comic, so they sent a load more stories, and we’ve just finished issue four,” he adds.
“The style is very cartoony – I’ve had to make it very simplistic.
“Because I’m drawing real people, it’s a bit more difficult because I don’t want to insult them or anything.
“I’d really like to collect them into a book eventually. I think once we’ve done eight issues, we’ll release it as a book and see how it does. I think David’s goal is to do it for as long as we can really.
For Gedge, the comic genre is one that is often overlooked and underappreciated, and hopes that the adult storytelling within Tales from the Wedding Present will inspire fans to read more.
“In Britain, comics and graphic novels have always been looked down upon as an art form,” says Gedge.
“It’s like pop music in a way.
“I was amazed the first time I went to America, that there didn’t seem to be much distinction between a graphic novel and a traditional novel.
“Britain’s got some really important comic book writers and artists who aren’t that well know over here who are really famous in America. Things are starting to change a bit,” he says. “I think it’s a bit more acceptable nowadays to read a graphic novel.”
October 24, O2 Academy Leeds, Cookridge Street, Leeds, 7pm, £16. www.ticketweb.co.uk
The Wedding Present formed in Leeds in 1985.
The band became famous for their lyrics about unrequited love, lust, jealousy and revenge. John Peel once said: “The boy Gedge has written some of the best love songs of the rock ‘n’ roll’ era. You may dispute this, but I’m right and you’re wrong.”
After releasing five singles, the group released their debut album George Best in October 1987 on their own record label, Reception Records.
The band have recorded a further seven albums, and will be reissuing them later this year as deluxe editions.