Whiskey River, Take My Mind

pittman panel cropThis past fall, before the global pandemic shut down the very idea of live music, I attended the Outlaw Music Festival in Saratoga Springs, NY – with Willie Nelson and Family headlining. Before Willie took the stage, my friend and I got a bite to eat and ended up chatting with some fellow devoted Willie fans. I mentioned in our conversation that I was writing a graphic novel about Willie’s life – and as a sort of test of my fandom, they quizzed me on the song that opens every live Willie show.

Whiskey River, of course!” I said, referencing the Johnny Bush cover that Willie has since made his own. I passed the test!

I’m surprised my brain worked at all that night, considering the amount of secondhand smoke in the air.

Anyway, take a look at this cool silhouette panel from Chapter 5 of Willie Nelson: A Graphic History, illustrated by another fellow Kubert School Alumni Jason Pittman. If you get a chance and need a great graphic novel to read, check out Jason’s book The War For Kaleb.

For more information on the book, including how to order, click here.

 

 

 

 

Walmsley Does Willie

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My good friend Adam Walmsley, from Cabot, Pennsylvania, did a bang-up job on artwork for Willie Nelson: A Graphic History. A fellow Kubert School classmate and graduate, Adam also took over my staff artist job at Archie Comics after I left – So we have lots of shared experiences and training. Before this year’s obvious world events, he ran a successful business caricaturing at various events. Also, he’s recently been doing lots of private commissions for art lovers of all kind. So, knowing that he’s been making beautiful watercolor realist art, I thought his work would be a great addition to the Willie project. You’ll see his illustrations in the book at every chapter break, as well as the title page ( where you’ll see a peek of the art above ), and the introductory sequential pages. I was lucky that Adam was available and willing to contribute to the project – as it certainly classed it up.

See more of his work here and here, where he shares lots of process posts and behind the scenes info on his work.

Be sure to preorder Willie Nelson: A Graphic History – available this September!

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Willie Nelson: From Depression To Quarantine

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Willie Nelson, now living through a global pandemic at 87 years old, was born in Texas hill country in 1933. No one could’ve predicted the longevity of Willie’s music career, and the fact that he’d still be releasing new music at his advanced age. Yet this month, he released his 70th album, First Rose Of Spring – another collection of recordings produced by Willie’s longtime co-writer/collaborator Buddy Cannon. For someone who was born during the Depression, it’s amazing to think about also living through something as massive as the COVID-19 pandemic. There were many unforeseen cancellations for Willie this year as a result of the year’s events – Farm Aid, Willie’s  Fourth Of July Picnic, The Luck, Texas Reunion – that had to ultimately become virtual events. For a humble guitar picker that loves life ‘on the road,’ that can’t be an easy adjustment – to shelter in place, to not interact with fans and audiences one on one – that’s just not as fun. It can’t be an easy adjustment for someone that’s spent three quarters of a century performing for live audiences. Luckily, for Willie, he’s able to continue to make music at home and ride out these uncertain times with his close knit family. We can’t wait to see him – and the family – on the road again.

For more information on the upcoming Willie Nelson: A Graphic History from NBM Comics Biographies, go here.

 

 

 

 

T.J. Kirsch Talks Willie Nelson: A Graphic History

This week I sat down comfortably in my office and talked to Chad Burdette from the Times Union – Comics Multiverse Blog. We talked about the impetus of Willie Nelson: A Graphic History and my experience of the process overall.

Be sure to pre-order wherever books are sold!

Times Union Comics Multiverse Interview

Find out more about the book on the NBM website – Willie Nelson: A Graphic History

And find an independent bookseller to preorder from on Indiebound.org

-T.J.

 

Willie Nelson: Cover Process

Hello Readers!

I have been working hard behind the scenes, as I often do, to make sure the books I create are of the highest quality in the land. That means plenty of post production, page formatting, art correcting, re-lettering, and general file handling. Very exciting stuff – some might say glamorous even.

Some time last year, when things were very different, I illustrated the cover for Willie Nelson: A Graphic History – you know, the book I haven’t been able to shut up about for the past (at least) two years? The very same book in which I edited, and partly illustrated? Yes, that’s the one. Well, the process for this particular piece was recorded in a digital program called Procreate, on a portable computer called an ‘iPad’ and with a writing instrument called an ‘Apple Pencil.’

As it turns out, you can watch the whole drawing process, in a sped-up timelapse sort of way. Pretty interesting to look back on. This is, of course, just the black and white line art – which was then colored in Photoshop. The typography on the cover was done in Adobe Illustrator. Are you asleep yet? Anyway here’s the link, right below here.

Willie Nelson: A Graphic History – Line Art Process

From the book’s description;

Since he was a child in Hill County, Texas, he has been writing and performing for adoring crowds. Though his mainstream success did not come until later in his life, he has been determined to take his unique sound and voice to the people even before he was a household name. There have been tragedies, missteps, IRS troubles, good times and bad along the way, but Willie continues to shine his positive outlook and project his humble voice out into the world. In this graphic novel biography, all the chapters represent a different era of his life and struggles – each illustrated by a unique indie comics talent.

 

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Willie Nelson!

 

Hello readers! It’s been quite a while. I’ve been behind the scenes quite a bit working on my next project…and here it is!

In September 2020, NBM Graphic Novels will release an extensive comic biography of country music icon Willie Nelson, written by Yours Truly! It will cover his entire life and career, beginning in Hill County, Texas in 1933. We’ll see all the ups and downs of his long career, family and activism up until the current day.

I’ll also be working on some of the art, along with an amazing group of talented cartoonists, including;

Adam Walmsley
Jeremy Massie
Jason Pittman
Håvard S. Johansen
J.T. Yost
Coşkun Kuzgun
Jesse Lonergan

Stay tuned right here for more info – coming very soon!

T.J. Kirsch

 

Now Read THIS!

The stellar reviews keep coming in for PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN! Win Wiacek, writing from the UK on his NOW READ THIS blog, has proclaimed the book as a…

“thoughtful and totally immersive glimpse of a life both remarkable and inescapably pedestrian:a reflection on common humanity and day-to-day existence with all the lethal pitfalls they conceal and joys they promise.”

Wiacek also says adds that PRIDE is a “seductively sedate, powerfully evocative and poignantly human-scaled fable of a guy with no hope and the odds stacked against him from the get-go…”

To close out the piece, Win mention this as a great comic to hand to even a non-comics-fan, and a musical pairing suggestion was made – a recommendation to spin Bob Seger’s “Mainstreet” while reading the book. I’ll have to try that myself.

I’d also add another musical pairing – “Tender Years” by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, from the cult hit movie soundtrack Eddie & The Cruisers. There’s just the right amount of passion and nostalgia in that song to go along with Andrew’s story. Readers with a keen eye for detail will also notice Eddie Wilson’s iconic cut-off black shirt is the same one worn by Andrew Peters.

To read the review in full, go here.

For more about PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, including how to order, go to NBM Graphic Novels.

Thanks for reading!

-T.J.

 

 

 

 

PRIDE lives!

Copies of Pride Of The Decent Man are beginning to arrive in the hands of readers. This is feels like the end of something, but also the beginning of another stage – promotion!

It’s actually been two years (!) since sending off the initial short proposal for the book, and now it’s done, real, and ready to be (hopefully) enjoyed by the public.

I’ll be making my first two appearances in support of PRIDE soon at the Small Press Expo in Maryland and the Brooklyn Book Festival in NYC. Details to come very soon!

I’m also posting a new tour poster image I’ve got with some other dates as well. More are being added soon.

Pride Of The Decent Man is now available through many fine booksellers.

For more info, go here.

Thanks again – and thanks for reading.

T.J.

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The Reviews Are In!

Library Journal has given Pride Of The Decent Man a fantastic advance review on their site, calling it;

“A complex story told in a thoughtful, moving manner,” and “Highly recommended for anyone trying to be a better, decent person.”

They also describe the “Beautiful if often sad color drawings and spare dialogue” that fill the volume.

This review means a great deal, particularly because of its association with libraries, which can easily open up a new world of graphic novels to younger and new readers.

For those who aren’t aware of Library Journal, their site describes itself as “the most trusted and respected publication for the library community. Built on more than a century of quality journalism and reviews.”

Read the full review here.

To learn more about Pride Of The Decent Man, including how to order your own copy, go here.

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We’ve Got It Covered

When working on the interior pages of Pride Of The Decent Man, I’d take a day or two and work on potential covers for the book. Here are a few alternates and rejected version of the book cover for PRIDE. ( you can click the images to see them at a larger size ). It’s always a nice change of pace to concentrate on single image after working on sequential pages for so long. I’d say some were more successful than others. There were elements taken from a few of these that made it onto the final design. There are things I like about each one, and definitely some things I could’ve done better. It’s a process, like anything else. It’s not wasted time, because in the back of my mind, I think – “this could end up being a good cover for a foreign translated edition!” If that were to happen, though, I’d end up wanting to redraw it anyway.

To find out more about Pride Of The Decent Man, including ordering info, go here.

Thanks for reading!

T.J.