By Blake Garris
A talented musician and creative artist, Sherri DuPree Bemis appreciates comic books on a number of levels.
Sherri’s husband, Say Anything front man and friend of Marvel Max Bemis, gained credibility in his future wife’s eyes by being a legitimate comic fan and together they expanded their appreciation for the medium.
With the release of her band Eisley’s fourth studio album “Currents”—out now on Equal Vision Records—we spoke with Sherri about her music as well as Iron Man, the Runaways and more.
Marvel.com: To begin, your husband Max [Bemis of the band Say Anything] is a huge Marvel fan. What was it like falling into that fandom?
Sherri DuPree Bemis: Well, it’s funny because every guy that I’ve ever dated since I was 17 all said they loved comic books. But they would have maybe like 10 comic books, and they weren’t really into [it]. They would just think it’s a cool thing. And when Max told me, “I’m really into comic books, I read them a lot,” I was like “Sure, sure, every guy says that.” But then when we finally met and I saw his collection, I was like “Holy crap, you are serious! This is awesome.” He was the first guy that I dated who was actually as obsessed with comic books as he said he was. I really respected it and thought it was so cool.
The obsession does not bother me at all, it never has. I love it, and love that he is so into it. Because I think it adds a lot to who he has developed into as a person, in the way that he thinks. He’s super smart and his vocabulary is off the charts, and it’s awesome. Actually the first comic book I ever read was a Marvel comic book. It was 1602; I saw it in one of his collections and I was like, “oh that’s so cool, I read that 10 years ago.” But anyway, I think it’s awesome and I love having these in the house and I’ve gotten into them totally, so it’s a bonus for me to have all these books.
Marvel.com: You also draw on your own, right?
Sherri DuPree Bemis: I’ve been drawing since I was about 15 or 16 pretty seriously. I’ve just kind of always loved it. My dad is an artist, he went to college for graphic design, and he does all of our web stuff and our album covers. It was always something I was around and I was drawn to it, so I think it was unavoidable that I was going to be into some form of artistic expression apart from music.
Right now I actually have a print store, and I sell my art to fans, but I also design t-shirts. And Max did a project with Chris Conley from Saves the Day called Two Tongues, and I got to do their album cover. Whenever anyone asks me to do something, I’m always happy to do stuff because it’s so fun for me. I’m relatively unknown as an artist, apart from my and Max’s fans. It’s cool whenever people offer me to do their projects.
Marvel.com: Is there any Marvel art that you saw that kind of blew you away?
Sherri DuPree Bemis: Oh my gosh, all of it! [Laughs] Part of the reason that I love comic books so much now is that the art is so good and it’s inspired me so much. I read comic books actually really slow, because I’m slowly studying each panel. While Max loves the art, and he’s a big comic book fan and he collects, he speeds through these things. And I’m like “look at how that’s drawn, it’s so good.” So I will really take in every panel on every comic. Since I never went to school to study art, or even really learn how to draw period, it helps so much to see how these people draw the anatomy of the characters, and the perspective they use. It really helps me as an artist just by reading the book.
Marvel.com: Are you like Max where you can’t read anything unless it’s in a full paperback trade?
Sherri DuPree Bemis: No, I’m not that impatient about it. I could read something and just be excited to wait for the next issue. But we basically only have the full trade paperbacks, because that’s all he can do; he can’t handle not being able to read the whole issue.
Marvel.com: Do you have any specific Marvel characters or stories that you like the most?
Sherri DuPree Bemis: One of my favorite series was RUNAWAYS. I read that one not too long ago, and that was awesome. I haven’t gotten super into the super hero stuff, but I just finished ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, which I loved; that one Max has been trying to get me to read forever. And I’ve always really loved Iron Man, so I’ve started reading some Iron Man comics. Currently Iron Man is my favorite. I think he’s so funny, and he’s such a weird person to be a super hero.
Marvel.com: Do you guys ever have arguments about comic books at all?
Sherri DuPree Bemis: [Laughs] No, he’s just always trying to get me to read more than I’m reading. Like if I’m sitting around on the computer, he’s like, “you could be reading comic books,” and I’ll be like “I know but I’m blogging on Tumblr now.”
Oh, I love the X-Men! Like I said, I’m still getting into all of the super hero type stuff. He started me out on some of the easier stuff, like Runaways; that’s [milder]. Of course I’m a huge Neil Gaiman fan, but who isn’t? But I really like all the ranges of what we have in this library. I don’t know if you’ve seen this library, there are even pictures of it, but it’s crazy, it’s ridiculous. There are panels that go down the middle of the room, like if you went to an actual library, and all around the room are built in shelves that are packed, we’re already running out of room. So there’s never a shortage of things to read.
Marvel.com: Do you have any X-Men characters you like more so than others?
Sherri DuPree Bemis: Yeah, definitely Wolverine. He’s really cool, he’s a badass, and he’s always been my favorite X-Man.
Marvel.com: Do you have anything to say about the stigma where comic books are only for guys?
Sherri DuPree Bemis: I don’t really know why it’s looked at as a dude’s thing to do. I mean I love them, but I never had the opportunity to get into them really, which is why I was never into them, but I’m a big reader. I started reading when I was four, and I had my own library by the time I was nine. I’ve always read books nonstop, so getting into comics was really just a natural thing to do, and I never really thought about the fact that it’s a guy thing to do. It’s so great. It’s such a cool art form, and a way to escape into these awesome worlds. I don’t know, I think a girl should get into it. They don’t just have to read SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE, they can read PUNISHER, and that’s just as cool.
Marvel.com: Now let’s talk about your new record. This is the first in your home studio, right?
Sherri DuPree Bemis: Yes, it is. And it was so much fun. It was the coolest thing I ever could have imagined. There’s just so much freedom. It’s amazing. Like the first record we had done, we were on a major label. But gosh, the difference was that it was so stifling and you weren’t even aware of it. Well, you were, because when you’re on a major label you’re pretty aware of how stifling it is, but at the same time, once it’s gone, you’re like, “wow, that was way worse than I thought it was” [Laughs]. So I’m really excited about this record, and I think that it’s definitely our best record, and I can say that without trying to sound pretentious, but I really believe that it is, and I’m super excited for our fans to hear it.
Marvel.com: Can you compare it to your last record “The Valley”? How have you grown since then?
Sherri DuPree Bemis: I’m actually really proud of “The Valley,” that’s one of my favorite records that we’ve done. In that one, we were going through the whole process of being with Warner Brothers, and also going through all this horrible personal stuff. So it was a really important record for us to put out. Just kind of taking away the pressure to produce songs that sound like they could go on the radio, and that’s always a thing with major labels, they want something for the radio. And anytime someone puts those kinds of pressures or restrictions on your art, it makes it really hard to produce something that’s natural. Even if you do end up with a product you like, there’s still that pressure that someone is pushing for this sound.
So on this record, I think it’s a little freer, there’s a lot more freedom and we were really able to round out these ideas and work with the different instruments. And the whole band for the very first time was really able to get involved. Like on the last two records, or last three records, all the producers were kind of like, “the girls are in the front, the girls are the song-writers.” They didn’t really care for the guys helping, they just had them come in, do their drums and bass, and then were like, “ok, you can go.” In this record, the guys are able to come and use these amazing musical brains that we’ve never tapped into and it was really able to help with all these cool production ideas and even song-writing ideas. I would never go back and do it another way after experiencing it this way.
|Eisley (photo by Chris Phelps)|
Marvel.com: You’re definitely always both keeping busy all the time, it seems like, and that’s awesome.
Sherri DuPree Bemis: [Laughs] I know, we are. I was thinking about that the other day. We just love doing things like that. If we’re not doing some kind of project related to art or music or something constantly, we start going stir crazy. We love our time off and we love being home, it’s our favorite place to be, but there’s really never a dull moment.
Marvel.com: And also you’re very active on social networks. Where can fans reach you on all things?
Sherri DuPree Bemis: You can look up any social network site and I’m on there. When all that stuff started coming up on Twitter, and I also do a lot on Tumblr, I just really liked that accessibility of being able to talk to fans, and ask questions, and be able to answer their question, even if it’s just something stupid like “Where did you get your hair dyed?” I think it’s something important and it makes fans feel connected. When they listen to your music, it’s not like you’re this unreachable person, it’s always been important for me to not have anyone feel like they can have a kind of relationship with anyone in our band. That’s really cool to me.