Phonogram (comics)

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Cover of Phonogram (vol. 1) #2.
Art by Jamie McKelvie.
Publication information
PublisherImage Comics
FormatLimited series
GenreDark fantasy, contemporary fantasy
Publication date(vol. 1)
August 2006 - May 2007
(vol. 2)
December 2008 - February 2010
(vol. 3)

August 2015 - January 2016
No. of issues(vol. 1)
(vol. 2)
(vol. 3)
Main character(s)David Kohl, Emily Aster
Creative team
Created byKieron Gillen
Jamie McKelvie
Written byKieron Gillen
Artist(s)Jamie McKelvie
Letterer(s)Jamie McKelvie
Colorist(s)(vol. 2-3)
Matt Wilson
Collected editions
Rue BritanniaISBN 1582406944
The Singles ClubISBN 1607061791
The Immaterial GirlISBN 1632156792

Phonogram is a comic book written by Kieron Gillen and drawn by Jamie McKelvie. It is published by American company Image Comics.

Publication history[edit]

The first volume, Rue Britannia, began in August 2006 and stars David Kohl, a mage who uses the medium of Britpop music to interpret his magic.

The second volume, The Singles Club, consists of seven one-shots looking at young phonomancers and their experiences over one night at a dance club. Each issue consists of a 16-page main story, rounded-out with features and back-up stories.[1][2]

Gillen originally ruled out a third volume because sales were just too low:

Best plan I have is just writing series 3 and then writing into my will that assuming I die young and Jamie's still around, lob him whatever's in my bank account to draw it. Which is assuming he'd even be willing to do it then. It's not that we're bitter about it – well, not just because we're bitter about it – but that it's been emotionally exhausting. We've been doing "Phonogram" for over 4 years, not including the years before the first series came out. Imagine if we could have just done the comic and not had to deal with any of the shit we've had to. We'd have been up to issue 44 now. Instead, we have 13 issues. I feel frustrated. Enormously lucky, sure, but frustrated. We've done this wonderful thing we're crazy-proud about. But if the whole economic system was just a couple of degrees to the left, everything would have been different. I mean, just to give you an idea about narrow the margins are between what we are and what we could be, if we were selling 6K instead of 4K, we could have done those 44 issues. The difference between breaking even and actually being able to do it in comics is insane. It's like being kept under ice, clawing. I feel like a bonsai plant.[3]

However, in February 2012 at the 2012 Image Expo, a third series of Phonogram was announced, entitled The Immaterial Girl. On the subject of the change of heart, Gillen stated:

And finally: we said we couldn’t do any further Phonogram. We’re doing more Phonogram. What’s changed? Circumstances have changed. Sorry to play enigmatic, but it’s just financial stuff and the day when the most important thing about Phonogram are lines on a graph is the day the little Phonofairy dies. The most important reason for our return? Phonogram felt like unfinished business. While each volume stands alone, knowing we were so close to giving a little closure to Emily, Kohl and the rest was more than we could bear.[4]

After further delays while Gillen and McKelvie launched The Wicked + The Divine, The Immaterial Girl was announced at the 2015 Image Expo as to be published in August 2015,[5] with the last issue published in January 2016.

Gillen has strongly implied there will be no further volumes beyond The Immaterial Girl in interviews and his workblog;[6] however, he stated there would not be a third volume at the end of The Singles Club.[7]

Volume 1: Rue Britannia[edit]

The first volume was a six-issue run, collected under the title "Rue Britannia". In keeping with the Britpop theme, the six individual issues and the collection had cover art based on album artwork from that era.

Issue Number Issue Title Influencing Album & Artist
1 Without Your Permission ElasticaElastica
2 Can’t Imagine the World Without Me It's Great When You're Straight... YeahBlack Grape
3 Faster Definitely MaybeOasis
4 Murder Park Modern Life Is RubbishBlur
5 Kissing with Dry Lips SuedeSuede
6 Live Forever The Holy BibleManic Street Preachers
TPB collecting issues 1–6 Rue Britannia This Is HardcorePulp

At the end of each issue, and somewhat shortened in the trade paperback, the creators give a glossary of the more obscure phrases and pop-culture references used, as well as musings on the history of Britpop and the influences on the book.


Phonomancer David Kohl has to save his Britpop goddess, Britannia, who is missing. Cursed by a goddess, he follows a series of leads and meets with other 'mancers, and spends time with a "normal" friend, Kid-With-Knife. He eventually locates Britannia.

Volume 2: The Singles Club[edit]

Issue Number Issue Title Relevant Song Focus Character
1 Pull Shapes The PipettesPull Shapes Penny B
2 Wine and Bed and More and Again CSSLet's Make Love and Listen to Death from Above Marc
3 We Share Our Mother's Health The KnifeWe Share Our Mothers' Health Emily Aster
4 Konichiwa Bitches RobynKonichiwa Bitches Seth Bingo and Silent Girl
5 Lust Etc The Long BlondesLust in the Movies Laura Heaven
6 Ready to Be Heartbroken Camera ObscuraLloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken Lloyd
7 Wolf Like Me TV on the RadioWolf Like Me Kid-with-knife

Once more, a glossary is included in both the issues and the trade collection. The trade also includes the track list that is playing in the club scenes.

The first print of issue 5 was recalled due to it having been printed with the bar code from issue 4. The second print corrected the error.[citation needed]


Several phonomancers center on a club, where magic is discouraged. Each issue focuses on a different phonomancer, with David Kohl returning as a supporting character throughout. David's coven leader, Emily Aster, is the focus of one issue, wherein she struggles with her dual personality.

Volume 3: The Immaterial Girl[edit]

The third volume, The Immaterial Girl was announced in March 2012 for a 2012 publication, but due to the creators starting to work on Young Avengers, it was delayed until the second half of 2013:[8] however, with the creators moving on to The Wicked + The Divine in 2014, there were no further updates until 2015 when a publication of August 2015 was confirmed as a six-issue run.

Issue Number Issue Title Influence
1 Plan B Duran Duran and the art of Patrick Nagel
2 Girl Anachronism The video for Take On MeA-ha
3 "I" Falls Apart The videos for Total Eclipse of the HeartBonnie Tyler and Material Girl - Madonna
4 (Let's Make This) Precious Little Life Scott Pilgrim vol. 1 – Bryan Lee O'Malley
5 Losing My Edge The video for Money for NothingDire Straits
6 See Emily Play Don't Give UpPeter Gabriel and Kate Bush
TPB collecting issues 1–6 The Immaterial Girl n/a

As with the previous volumes, a glossary is included in both the issues and the trade collection.


Continuing from the Aster-centric issue of "The Singles Club", "The Immaterial Girl" is focused on coven leader Emily Aster's struggle with her dual-personality and identity crisis, and was foreshadowed in Issue 3 of volume 2.

Collected editions[edit]

The three limited series have been collected as trade paperbacks:

There is also a one volume, complete edition hardcover::

  • The Complete Phonogram HC (504 pages, Image Comics, May 2017, ISBN 978-1534301511)
    • Collects Phonogram #1-6, Phonogram 2: The Singles Club #1-7, Phonogram 3: The Immaterial Girl #1-6, and Previously Single-Exclusive B-Sides



External links[edit]