It was a really fun project to work on. His album is basically about his own life, but a little dramatized and fictionalized and exaggerated. The songs start in the present and then reach back into the past, going further back each time, to try to answer the question of how he ended up where he is now. I felt like he gave me a whole lot of license to interpret the story, like I could make a mini-comic that goes with his album, but doesn't have to follow the facts exactly.
Deciding that I couldn't handle working in backwards-order like the songs go, I told a story of a young man who goes through different life phases, starting long ago, and living in a sped-up history. It's as though each year in this guy's life is 20 years apart in history. Or maybe each panel shows a different person living at a different time. Really, I just wanted to be able to draw different time periods. Because that's fun. And in a way, the time periods I chose kind of go with the spirit of each drawing.
So, the story as I saw it, with influences in parentheses:
A young peasant rejects his parents and leaves home (Hogarth); he and a friend become outlaw cowboys;
he is betrayed and thrown from a ship and gnawed by vicious sea monsters, or goes through drug withdrawal (scary-Romanticism like Goya); he washes ashore and faces life with new hope/recovers from addiction (Rationalism, World Fair architecture, Paris);
he falls in love (Romanticism, pastoral scenes with shepherds and shepherdesses, although I tried to make the lovers' posture less dominant/submissive than most of the historical examples); but the relationship starts to end/become distant (1920s phones and hairstyles and hookahs);
he has fun with friends but starts to see omens of change in his life (1950s, creepy amusement park mechanical fortuneteller); he realises the freedom to make mistakes and take risks and that things end but don't really (1970s spacewhales cosmic trippy journey);
he acts recklessly and doesn't realise the damage he's causing (1980s Ferris-Bueller style parade/marching band mayhem); he looks out his window and contemplates his life (modern-day Vancouver in winter).