Today is the 80th birthday of Johnny Cash. I was raised on the man in black and when I was little, I was told that the song The Last Gunfighter Ballad (written by Guy Clark) was about my ancestor, rancher (and possible outlaw in his youth) Tap Duncan. The story laid out in the song and the actual last days of Tap’s life match up pretty well from a structural standpoint, but there is no actual evidence outside similarity that proves he was the inspiration. Still, as I child I bought it completely and would listen to the song constantly. Even now it holds a special place in my heart, because even if it’s not actually about Tap Duncan, it still is to me. Some other time, I’ll write about Tap and his influence on western culture, but here’s his ballad to keep you in the meantime.
There are a couple of books that I’d like to suggest that most people who dig Cash might not normally pick up but are really nice. The first is Cash: An American Man which provides a nice peek into Johnny’s life by Bill Miller, who was a friend of Cash.
Also, there is the graphic novel Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness by Reinhard Kleist. This book is wonderful and the only thing I don’t like about it is that I did not make it.
And since we’re here honoring the man, I also suggest giving a little time to this video of his last public performance.
Oh! Also, here is a link to a bunch of rarely seen photos from Time Magazine.
Finally got around to scanning this. Back in the early part of 2008 I got the opportunity to work at the Excalibur Hotel and Casino for a caricature booth owned by Fasen Arts (warning: going to their site will expose you to a number of guys who are much better than than me). I loved my time there and had a number of breakthroughs as an artist thanks to the sink or swim nature of the job. To this day it is my belief that anyone who wants to do art in any sort of commercial sense would greatly benefit from doing caricature for a bit.
Working at a caricature booth usually meant long periods where you were left unsupervised and this meant that when you needed a break, you just got up and went. I felt that just leaving the work station empty though was bad business-wise, because any passer-by who might be interested in getting a drawing might assume the booth is closed. Since this was a commission only job, it was in my best interest to keep such people waiting around for me. So to cover myself while I would be away, I did a couple of placeholders to assure potential clients that I would be returning in a short while to resume being the least skilled caricature artist one could be while still getting paid for it. The following one is my favorite, but I will likely post the others someday in the future when I have nothing better to post (so, like, tomorrow).
Sadly, after being there only a few months, the Excalibur made a decision to rent out one of the two spaces our company was renting to another vendor (one of those companies that puts images in crystals) and Fasen had to lay off me and my ultra-talented friend, Joseph Bergin. I really miss doing the job and my love of caricature has only grown since then. Just recently, one of Mad Magazine’s top guys, Tom Richmond, put out a book that teaches the art of caricature in just about the best way I have ever seen. The book is just chock full of the science, if you will, of doing a caricature.
If you’re at all interested in drawing caricatures for fun or profit, I highly recommend picking it up.
Want to go to the San Diego Comic-Con this year? Then you might want to boogie on over to this webpage. You should do this soon, because the cut-off date to get a member ID and be eligible to purchase a ticket is Tuesday (February 28th). That’s right, you only have a few days notice and yes, they just announced this. I expect to hear the grousing of many a fanboy this year.
I’ve been spending the last week writing a slew of posts about what is going on with DC Comics and the Before Watchmen books they are publishing. Before I could get around to finalizing and posting those, this happened. Click that link. It will detail how Marvel Comics not only legally won the rights to a character they didn’t create, but that the creator now has to pay them $17,000 in legal fees.
This post I had put on Erik Larsen’s link to the story sums up my feelings (edited slightly for this blog):
While legally their right to seek payback on their legal fees, I’d say that $17,000 for full legal ownership of a character they have made millions off of would have been enough of a bargain. Dick move, sirs. As someone who typically spends about $3,000 a year on comics, I just did the math and have decided to spend $17,000 less on Marvel Comics over the next eight years (even though this will initially hurt current creators more than the company). I think others should do likewise… Can we do a benefit book for him or something? A Kickstarter campaign?