In 1991, in the midst of his run on Sandman — now considered one of the most innovative comic-book series of all time — Neil Gaiman got a phone call from Bob Pfeifer, an executive at Epic Records in Los Angeles.
"We have an artist who wants to make a concept record," Pfeiffer said. "And the artist was wondering if you had a concept." The artist: Alice Cooper. Which piqued Gaiman’s interest because, as he now recalls, "Alice Cooper was a comics character.
When I was a kid 15 years earlier than that, I had read Marvel Premiere #50, Alice Cooper: Tales From the Inside, and I also loved [1975 album] Welcome to My Nightmare. My cousins were the Alice Cooper fans; I was the David Bowie, Lou Reed fan.
But they had made me watch “Teenage Lament ‘74” on Top of the Pops.” Gaiman let Epic book him a flight out to Phoenix, and a room at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel; Cooper showed up, and the two quickly started tossing around ideas for what became The Last Temptation, Cooper’s 1994 album.
"We talked about Ray Bradbury, Dario Argento, zombie movies, how to make a thing," Gaiman remembers; the comics superstar found himself in the unusual position of ghostwriting lyrics and punching up some of Cooper’s songs, including the album’s lead single, "Lost in America," a heavily sarcastic take on "Summertime Blues" — ain’t got no job, ain’t got no girl, ain’t got no gun.
The two kept in touch, and in 1993, when the project was nearing completion, Cooper’s people started asking Gaiman if he would turn the album into a comic, a request he initially denied: “For me, the fun of it was creating a concept for a concept album. And then Marvel Music came to us.”
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