In honor of the newly released and wildly anticipated first issue of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked and the Divine I’m pulling another non-superhero for my Babe of the Month: Phonogram‘s David Kohl.
David Kohl. In fact I will repeat his full name over and over again because it invokes a little magic all by itself. Three syllables and a whole lot of glibly-quoted lyrics and life-changing cocked eyebrows.
In a world where music is magic David Kohl is the guy you make eye contact with across a crowded show and he has bad news written all over him. You know you should be focusing on the band but after your favorite verse, after the bridge full of group vocals, and after the final chorus you keep glancing back at his smirking arrogance. In your gut you have no doubt David Kohl is going to lead you into a world of trouble but everyone is dancing and nodding along to your favorite song and who the hell cares, he’ll make you feel like a walking pile of shame tomorrow morning but tonight, tonight is magic.
What Makes Him a Babe:
There is something so damn attractive about a man who deeply understands the power music can have over someone’s life. Some people, like Kid-With-Knife, love music but they don’t get it. Boys like K-W-K won’t give you nearly as much grief as David Kohl, or make you feel like a dirty cauldron of self-loathing for that matter. Boys like David Kohl make you feel both stronger and weaker when around him. You feed off his well-deserved pomposity while silently whimpering at every biting remark. It’s exhilarating like riding a roller coaster and you feel just as nauseated afterwards but you can’t help and smile the whole way home.
First of all, David Kohl looks just average enough that he could be any guy to any person who has been to any show. Secondly, he is completely upfront about what a twat he is. He knows it, he doesn’t apologize for it, and you still are drawn to his world. Even if he spends the next 20 minutes lecturing you in a condescending tone that could make rainforests wither up it would be worth it because he’s unforgettable. He’s your favorite song off that one demo EP that makes the band shudder in embarrassment when you call out for it during a set. He’s raw and unfinished, tough but beautiful, a sour candy that cuts the inside of your cheek and fills your mouth with blood.
Evolution in Sexiness:
When we first meet David Kohl he is an ass. Technically, he is still an ass but by the end of Singles Club he’s an ass with a heart. He even, *gasp*, admits to enjoying doing the right thing. Bad boys are sexy but bad boys who want to save the world and dance to Kenickie are way sexier. God only knows how Jamie McKelvie was able to draw such an unfailing, panty-dropping honeypot while still keeping his looks grounded in reality. Knowing you could run into a guy that looks just like David Kohl any day now only makes him more attractive.
This is a little tough because while I usually write about characters that have appeared in numerous titles and countless issues the Indie Scene Savior has only been the face of six issues and the supporting male/iconic urban legend/charismatic friend in the following seven issues. While the undoing and self-actualization and growth of David Kohl from Rue Britannia are a great metaphor and journey, I’m very drawn to the less-brooding version we see in Singles Club. In every issue that he makes an appearance he has shed the black cloud of self-glorified assholery and is shown being patient, though still far superior in musical taste and knowledge, and excelling in friendship. He even abides by Seth Bingo’s “No Magic” rule. He’s the perfect transition from unlikely hero to well-adjusted asshole that you hope to see in all your favorite sequels but is rarely executed properly. Kieron Gillen does a fantastic job of making him still interesting and loveable without turning him into a forced smile and a bland revisited memory.
David Kohl doesn’t do relationships. He is fully committed to music. One of my favorite parts is when he talks about listening to Kenickie for the first time. He ignores his scantily-clad girlfriend in favor of listening to a two-minute song again and again. It says so much more about him in four panels than every shot of him acting like a smug dick while trying to pull girls.
F*ck, Marry, Kill:
As much as I wish I could say “Marry” I know that’s wrong. Mostly due to the previous paragraphs and only a little because it would just be such a failed fantasy. David Kohl symbolizes everything I thought my adulthood would be when I was 17. He’s smart and unyieldingly cool and relies on his own ideas of magic. But now as I inch closer to 30 years old he is someone I have outgrown though still fondly remember. Maybe a quick fuck after a heated show, maybe not even making all the way to the bedroom. Just a dirty romp that ends in exhausted, soft laughter and a cigarette faintly glowing in a dark room.
Denise 10 years ago would not only have given anything to date David Kohl but would even let him string her along in a non-relationship just to be around him. I would have been exactly like Beth, pining and torturing myself by drowning in unrequited love and chasing ghosts of possibilities. I probably would have also made out with Kid-With-Knife in a moment of drunken weakness. I like to think that since those years I’ve grown and realized the appeal of nice boys who don’t make me feel like a heathen for my guilty pleasures. Looking at David Kohl now makes me feel warm with nostalgia instead of crippling lust-induced agony.
I was trying to find a very specific piece of McKelvie art and I came across this. Your take on Kohl is spot on, but I wonder: What do you make of him after reading The Immaterial Girl? You’ve anticipated some of his moves, and I think it the 3rd series arc rings very true to his character and his passing of the torch.
Great bit, this. Thanks for sharing, you-from-five-years-ago.