Baroque Pop: Graphic Lives of the Young and Beautiful

Baroque Pop Kickstarter

“Lana Del Rey once said ‘Doing what you love is freedom. Loving what you do is happiness.’ It’s interesting how those twelve little words perfectly sum up the entirety of why artists endure and struggle and create. But one word from that statement stands out above the rest: love. Love has driven countless people to do countless things over the millennia. Love drove our modest group of artists to come together and create a book in honor of our common muse, and I believe it’s that same love that drew so many of you to support our book and help us cross the finish line.”

Mario Candelaria, above, speaking on the campaign updates page for his passion project Baroque Pop — a comics and illustration anthology inspired by the music (and videos) of Lana Del Rey. It was a hard-rider straight out the gate– a third funded by the end of day one, halfway there two days later, and within the week, all the way home. At time of writing, the project is at $5,590 on a $4,000 goal; closing February 19th, you can help them hit their $6,000 stretch goal that adds a free sticker to every physical reward tier. Production, as asserted on the campaign page, is already largely completed, and having seen a sneak peek at Mario’s own short story (a bittersweet Bonnie & Clyde goodbye, with Katarzyna Witerscheim of Jem & The Holograms and 1995Regi) there’s really nothing to lose as a backer if the Del Rey sound is something you already experience on an aesthetic level. And how can you not? She’s a movement.

Having referenced her body electric thrice in my work on this site, I was the obvious tap to speak to Candelaria about the creative urges and artistic appreciation behind this kind of love song.

What first made you love Lana?

Truth be told, I was not that into her at first. I was a stubborn fan of what I was a fan of and, at the time, no new music would compare to my safety blanket albums.  It was Baz Luhrmann’s Gatsby that finally turned me onto Lana. Her song “Young and Beautiful” was so moving and powerful that I dove head first into her discography and discovered a whole new world of emotions and inspiration.

Comics are a fully visual medium, where “songs” are fully aural. How big of a role do her videos play in forming your sense of what the music of Lana Del Rey is? How much of the inspiration for this book is in her mixed media sum, as opposed to music-and-lyrics only?

That’s a great question. I can only speak for myself in this regard, but I tried my best to only let the music dictate where my story Cacciatore went. I listened to the song Salvatore on repeat with my headphones on and eyes closed until the story came to me. My collaborator, Katarzyna Witerscheim, took the script and made it her own with minimal input from me. Katarzyna has built a strong reputation on her liberal use of bright colors, whereas Lana’s videos often have a more muted look to them.

Now that’s just for my story. I am also the head designer for the anthology as well as the kickstarter itself and it is in these fields where I drew inspiration from Lana’s visual releases. For example, the opening shot of the Kickstarter video is footage I recorded while driving through the desert. I knew when I was filming that with the right filter I can give it that perfect LDR look we needed for the campaign. Even the fonts used are reminiscent of the style used on almost all of Lana’s releases.

Baroque Pop Kickstarter video, mario candelaria
A screenshot of the campaign video’s desert film

Baroque Pop Kickstarter video, mario candelaria

As well as being artistically recognisable, her work is often thematically recognisable. What sort of conceptual themes do you most regularly see in the music, and are these all explored within the anthology? Are some dominant in ways that differ from the inspiration?

Lana’s music always feels deeply cinematic and tragic, especially her more recent work. You can really feel it in the words and the chords and each of the seven stories touches on this in their own unique way.

Body Electric by Eric Palicki and Daniel Earls touch on the pitfalls of constantly chasing the “new” and how we can lose ourselves if we’re not careful, while Medicine I Need by Enrica Jang and Jan Velazquez show a new take on the way people become dependent on drugs. As much as some of the stories have airs of fantasy, they are all firmly rooted in the very tragic human condition.

Your Kickstarter campaign page calls the book “carefully curated” and emphasises aesthetic control. Why was this so important to you?

I initially pitched this idea to Red Stylo under the idea that I would be the one who shouldered much of the work. Enrica has a lot of experience creating large anthologies (her latest one, 27, was nominated for a Harvey Award) but she had a lot on her plate preparing for the next one as well as working on her own monthly titles.

Since this was my first time behind the wheel, we felt it would be much easier for me to manage a smaller roster. We put out a call for contributors and did our best to pair together creators who would compliment one another while also staying true to the source material. As hard as it was telling creators that their pitches did not make the final cut, we simply did not have the room to allow everyone in.

Baroque Pop illustration, John Keaveney

With a high bar for entry and a final lineup featuring the creators listed below, this Kickstarter is still open for backing– but only just. Get your big eyes on that campaign page, and figure if there’s a reward tier calling your name.

Baroque Pop lana Del Rey-inspired comic illustration anthology creators list

EDIT: Mario has kindly provided WWAC an exclusive three-page preview of Jennie Wood and Chris Goodwin’s story Religion. Read it below:

Claire Napier

Claire Napier

Critic, ex-Editor in Chief at WWAC, independent comics editor; the rock that drops on your head. Find me at and give me lots of money