Willie Nelson: From Depression To Quarantine

Willie BW Sketch

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

COVER

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

 

Story of Lee – bits from my past

 

In volume 3 of our series with NBM, The Story of Lee,  I’ve written a commentary on two pages at the back of the book, about various aspects that can be seen in the book, real life places, events, Scots language words, etc. I also did this with the other two volumes.

Here are some snippets from that with the relevant pages for you:

On Pages 2 to 4: The character Xavier is based on an international student who was in my Masters degree in Edinburgh University. The kind of person who is smart but can’t resist showing off about it. We had all agreed not to show the results of our first essay, as it was immature to compare marks and not the point of learning. But as soon as he saw that his result was good he showed it off to any one he could. ha!

He is probably now the head of a department of sociology somewhere.

anarchism 1

Check the book out more on the publishers page HERE

Or my own WEBSITE WEBSITE

 

The Return of The Silent Invasion

The Silent Invasion is back after a hiatus of almost 20 years. NBM will be releasing four volumes; the original series as two books, the never before collected story “Abductions,” and then a brand new volume with the working title “Dark Matter.” And after that, who knows?

Silent_Invasion_RedShadows_Cover_small

Stefan Blitz of NBM recently asked us a few questions to set the scene of our return to graphic novels…

So where have you guys been for the last two-decades? Hiding somewhere up in the frozen wilds of Canada?

Michael Cherkas: I’ve spent the last 30 years working as a graphic designer, art director and sometime illustrator and cartoonist. Most of the work I’ve done would fall under the category of editorial design; magazines, corporate publications, annual reports, etc. Let’s just say I’ve created a lot of landfill over the past 20 years. And after staring at type on a computer screen for 10 hours or more a day, my eyes were pretty tired, so I had no desire to sit at a drawing board for another four or five hours.

Having said that we did continue to dabble in comics though our output was minimal. We wrote and drew “Abductions,” which NBM published as a 5-issue floppy-comic mini-series way back in 2001…

Sil_Invasion_NBM_Abductions01_smallest

Then we self-published one issue of The Purple Ray…

The Purple Ray_One_cover_small.jpg

I wasn’t happy with the art in that; I am in the process of re-drawing the entire first issue. There was also a three-pager I did for a small-press anthology. Larry actually was a character in the story. Stay tuned and you might see that 3-pager right here.

I’ve also been working on a graphic novel about the Ukrainian terror famine of 1932-33 known as the Holodomor…

RedHarvest_Ch1_P12_small

This is also a good time for me to get more involved in comics again as I’m now the “president and chief bottle washer” of a one-person world-wide design empire which gives me more opportunity to work on comics or graphic novels.

Larry Hancock: In my daytime secret identity, I am a professional accountant. Back in 1998 I became self-employed and have been extremely busy. Because of my affinity with the arts I have a lot of clients who are authors, artists, animators, singers, film people, etc.

Michael and I get together quite often to talk story ideas, but we have not been highly motivated to work on comics. Back in the nineties, the comic book world was concentrating very much on violent superheroes and gimmicky covers. But these days there is so much variety available that it is time to dip our toes in the ink again.

Why The Silent Invasion again? Does it have something to do with the strange political culture America is living through?

MC: The premise of The Silent Invasion is that there is something terribly rotten in the American government. Books 1 and 2 are set in the 1950s during the time of the communist witch-hunts. But Matt Sinkage, our main character, believes he’s on to something when he thinks he discovers evidence that a recent rash of UFO sightings is somehow connected to the so-called communist infiltration of government departments and agencies. What’s never clear is whether the “communists in government” is a cover story to detract from the “alien invasion of earth” or the other way around.

I ain't no commie.jpg

So yes, the story should resonate today since the current president is no stranger to creating and sustaining conspiracy theories. I don’t think he’s ever seen a conspiracy theory he didn’t like unless it has something to do with Russian influence on his election.

LH: As Michael mentioned we self-published one issue of our Purple Ray comic book. On the back we put a fake ad for the next Silent Invasion book, saying that it was coming soon, but not too soon. We weren’t really serious at that time. Yes we had, over the previous several years, been talking about the plot for a next book, if we ever did one, but we had no plans as to when to actually following through.

Silent_Invasion_fake ad_01

Then, when we met Terry Nantier in Toronto at TCAF in 2017, he looked at that fake ad, raised a quizzical eyebrow, and suggested the time is ripe to re-introduce The Silent Invasion to the wider world. I looked at Michael and said, “Let’s do it!”

MC: And I, grumpily, agreed.

 

Breaking the 10 volume 2 – listing now!

After quite a bit of difficulty and rearranging of the book’s ending Volume 2 of our BREAKING THE 10 is finished… and is presently listed in this month’s Previews catalogue from Diamond distributor.

p102lo

Order it from Previews Customer Order Form, page 27 (or p377 in the full catalogue), under the publishers name ‘NBM’ (and with a cute ‘Certified Cool’ stamp of recommendation).

Diamond Code: DEC17 1696

With Volume 1 of the book re-listed under code:  DEC171697

 

b10 vol 2 diamond listing

Despite the trouble we had I’m very proud of this book and really looking forward to seeing volume 2 come out printed well.

Nice!

NBM’s page for the book HERE

And more pages from the book can be seen at my WEB SITE

B10 vol 2 listing

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.

 

 

 

 

Tribute to Benjy Melendez

If you read “Ghetto Brother” you know that after the gang truce came the music. The Ghetto Brothers were one of the first gangs to invite others to their turf to peacefully party together.

A year after the Hoe Avenue Peace Meeting, also thanks to the media attention the GBs were getting back then, Benjy and his brothers recorded an album, “Fuerza/Power” — listen to the sampler here.

This Saturday, Benjy will be honored in the Bronx — and the Ghetto Brothers will give a free concert! If you’re in New York, you don’t want to miss this (and yes, we’ll be selling copies of the graphic novel there as well).

June 13 Flyer