Saturday, December 3, 2011

America Salutes the Carter Family

A Northwest musician named Markly Morrison contacted me a while back about doing the cover art for his Carter Family tribute album, America Salutes the Carter Family. I'm excited to announce that it's been released! And, yes, I drew the cover art. And my collaborator Frank Young kindly colored that art...

The album is a collection of Carter Family songs as sung by northwest bands, encountered and recorded by Markly. You can read more about it at the link above.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Rita Forrester and the Carter Family Fold. Rita, a grand-daughter of Sara and A.P. Carter, suffered a horribly tragic house fire two years ago. It took the life of her husband, Bob Forrester.

Monday, October 10, 2011

We Made It--Thanks to You!!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Wow! We raised $8523.00 in our Kickstarter campaign!

This show of support means the world to David and I! We can't throw a party for the 150 folks who became supporters of our Kickstarter campaign... so how about a couple new color pages?

This notable page introduces the adult Maybelle to the world of the Carter Family-as-musicians! The fella with the fiddle is Poor Valley postman, Price Owens.

This page shows Sara and A.P. going to their first, abortive recording session, for Brunswick Records' mobile unit in 1925. They travel by horse-cart to nearby Kingsport, which was already an industrial center of the area.

We hope you enjoy this new sneak peek at our work-in-progress! We'll be hard at work on the completion of this book--now we can breathe a sigh of relief and get back to the drawin' board (and colorin' computer)!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dear Friends--You ROCK!

David and I have just learned that we've not only reached our Kickstarter goal of $5,000--we've exceeded it!

We could not be more moved and grateful for the terrific outreach of support for DON'T FORGET THIS SONG. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you!

To celebrate, here's a couple of recent pages of finished colored artwork. (No dialogue yet, but the images are mighty nice to look at!)

First is a page from Chapter 8, in which Maybelle's guitar genius absolutely flusters Price Owens, the fiddle-playing postman who sometimes jammed with A.P. and Sara, in those gentle days before recording fame...

Here is a page from Chapter 5, showing the aftermath of the wedding of A.P. and Sara, and their travels to their new home in Poor Valley. Sara comments as she places her Autoharp on the bureau, "There... now it feels like home."

We hope you enjoy seeing these finished pages. We're working hard to finish the book this year. Your overwhelming show of support has us both really jazzed! Thanks again...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Help Kickstart the Carter Family Graphic Novel!

David and I have launched a campaign on, to help us out as we work full-time-plus to complete this elaborate full-color graphic novel! Click HERE to check out our Kickstarter campaign!

There's a five-minute video about DON'T FORGET THIS SONG and its history. It was beautifully directed, and assembled in the Blender 3D graphics program by James Gill (who is my talented improv partner on THE JIM & FRANK PODCAST, which you can sample at Jim's link above).

Thanks for taking a look--and if you can help us out, thanks times ten!

Here's another look at some of our finished full-color artwork from DON'T FORGET THIS SONG. Kickstarter "backers" will get an exclusive online look at our book over the next month.

This Kickstarter campaign ends on October 10, 2011--so be sure to visit the Kickstarter link today!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Coloring the Carters: An Epic Scene of Celebration

David and I are turning out finished pages of Don't Forget This Song as fast as we can. In my role of colorist, I seldom get off easy. David's ink artwork is remarkably intricate, and has much to keep the observer's gaze affixed. You're invited to explore every nook and cranny of his artwork.

All of those nooks and crannies need to be colored. The good news: I enjoy coloring. It is satisfying to see ideas I've been carrying around in my head suddenly made literal. We've spent a long time living with these pages in their rough form. Seeing the inked line artwork for the first time is always a delight to me.

Here is one of the most detailed and epic pages of the book (so far). Apologies for the lack of dialogue. The text is written. I don't lay it in until we've assembled the layout in InDesign.

This page depicts the celebration at the wedding of A.P. and Sara Carter. As the newlyweds waltz to the accompaniment of a Virginia string band (joined by their friends Buff and Mae, who are just rehearsing for their own wedding day), friends and family of the gifted couple comment on the scene.

The dialogue is amusing, and shows a variety of reactions to the unique personalities of A.P. and Sara.

David designed this intricate page, and, as you can see, the placement of the figures took a lot of thought and care. When the page was given to me to color, I went through a similar process. I had made a color rough, with felt markers, on the pencil thumbnail sketch of the page, back in 2009.

The page went through much refinement since then. My color guide was merely a suggestion of what would go where. It was a challenge to distribute the limited palette of our color scheme throughout a scene of over 40 figures. I had to be careful to vary the colors, and not to run the same colors too close together.

Thanks to the versatility of Photoshop, I'm able to change colors, de-saturate them, and tighten up my work after I've laid the basic "coats" down on the digital page. There sometimes seems to be no end of fussing, fiddling and fine-tuning that I do to these pages. This one, in particular, required a great deal of the Three Fs!

The bottom row of panels was something of a relief, after having spent hours laying in colors on that huge top panel. Large medium-shots of the characters offered a bit of a break, in comparison to the tiny spots of color demanded by the large main scene.

I'm happy with the overall results, and I hope you'll enjoy taking a gander at this page. It's a real show-stopper.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hot Off The Drawing Board: A Haunting Panel

David is hard at work on finished artwork for Don't Forget This Song. This panel, from the second chapter of the book, leapt out at me as I scanned the artwork today. The unusual angle creates a haunting mood, which is supported by the lush woods that surround the simple cabin, as young A.P. Carter approaches on horseback.

I can't wait to get started coloring these new pages, but I had to share this panel with you hot off the drawing board. It's a beaut!

Friday, July 1, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different: Our Oregon Trail Graphic Novel!

Hi folks... while we were in legal purgatory over the use of song lyrics in DON'T FORGET THIS SONG (a chess-game of attrition that we ultimately lost), David and I were not goofing off. We decided to tackle a smaller (i.e., non-color) graphic novel. We're pleased to finally announce it here. (I would have posted this earlier, had I not been stricken with appendicitis, from which I'm still recovering.)

This is a page from local publisher Sasquatch Press' Fall 2011 catalog for our book, Oregon Trail: The Road of Destiny. The cover they chose is a curious hybrid of a rejected earlier illustration and their overall design for the cover. Here's what the real cover looks like:

I'm amused to be listed as "co-creator of Comics Journal." I was the managing editor of the magazine, 20 years ago, but there had been over 140 issues before I put in my stint. I'm sure this will cause some amusing questions in interviews!

David and I are really happy with this book. We both strove to keep its story vivid, real and humane. We both did a great deal of visual and factual research for the project. When I wrote the script, I concentrated on the down-to-earth, flesh-and-blood reality of what this trip must have been like for those who took it.

David outdid himself on the artwork. He brought all the humanity of the story front and center, and helped broaden the book's emotional range. There are some genuinely funny moments--and some heart-breaking pitfalls--throughout the book. Everything David put into this project was graceful, assured and sympathetic.

We're back at work on Don't Forget This Song, and hope to FINALLY have the book finished this year. The Road to Destiny will end up being our first published graphic novel. We often referred to it as "our little B-movie" while we worked on it. We couldn't dazzle the reader with fancy full color. Our hook had to be in our story and our characters.

This book is at the printers, and should be released around the end of August, 2011. You can see the ISBN number on the catalog page. Check in with as this month comes to a close.

Here are four random pages from the book, so that you can have a preview of David's superb work:

We'll post updates as we learn of the book's availability. Now, back to our full-color "A-picture..."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Johnny Cash and the Popemobile

Recently I (David) was in Portland for the Stumptown Comics Fest, and was lucky enough to meet and have lunch with documentary filmmaker and all-around nice person, Beth Harrington. You may be familiar with her excellent film about the women of rockabilly, Welcome to the Club. Beth is currently at work on a documentary about the Carter Family! As you might imagine, we had a lot to talk about, especially our love of the Carters' music.

She interviewed me for her Winding Stream blog, and in return allowed me to interview her...

What is the name of your project?

The film is called The Winding Stream and its subtitle is “The Carters, the Cashes and the Course of Country Music.”

How long have you been working on it?

I first had the idea for the film in early 2001. I’d just finished a film about women rockabilly singers and Rosanne Cash had narrated it. It went really well and Rosanne seemed very happy with the association. I’d been thinking of asking Rosanne if she’d introduce me to family members and participate in a film about the Carters and Cashes. And just as I was about to ask her, she emailed me and said she’d been down at the Carter Fold in Virginia with her father and June and the whole time she was there she was thinking, “Beth should be here making a film about this.” And I said, “Funny you should mention it…”

So I started doing development work, researching the subject, applying for grants and the like. But we didn’t actually start shooting until 2003. So this is either the 10th year of the film if you count pre-production or the 8th year if you go from when we started shooting. But either way it’s been a long time. Funding’s been the big hurdle. And remains so. But we’ve gotten an amazing amount of work done considering how little money we’ve had to work with. People have been very generous with their time and talent in this project. And we’re grateful for grants we’ve received from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the Faerie Godmother Fund. And our recent Kickstarter campaign really put us back into action again. So that’s been great.

So, just what is it about the Carter Family?

For me, it’s about two things:

The incredible canon of music they preserved and developed and interpreted, a huge piece of our cultural heritage. Sara’s voice, Maybelle’s innovative guitar work, A.P.’s obsessive song collecting and arranging. Where would we be without these three and their contribution to American music?

2) The human drama of one family that threads itself through most of the last century of American music. The Carters (and their progeny) really are a winding stream flowing through all sorts of genres. I mean, you have Beck doing Carter music and you have Elvis doing Carter music and you have Flatt and Scruggs doing Carter music and you have Joan Baez doing Carter music and you have Those Darlins doing Carter music. Amazing appeal.

Frank and I have spent our time sitting in a little room for much of our production process. I’m envious that you get to go out and see places and meet people. Do you have an anecdote or two you can share from the making of your film?

To this day, the biggest thrill of the film was meeting and interviewing Johnny Cash. He was incredibly kind to us and happy to talk about June and her family. Of course, this was also a difficult time for him. June had died only a few months earlier and he was very ill himself. He died only a few weeks later in fact. But he was very engaged and funny and intense, too.

He came into the living room where we’d set up via an elevator that had been added to their home. So it was the size of a phone booth and it came down from the corner of the ceiling into the living room. John Carter Cash had warned me about this (our camera was set-up under it!) I guess there’d been mishaps before where things got crushed.

Anyway, at the appointed time, Johnny Cash comes down, seemingly from the heavens! And he’s in a phone booth that is opaque at the bottom and has a painted folk art picture of June on the side. And he’s waving at us as he comes down. And my crew and I are just gleeful! It’s Johnny Cash! It’s Johnny Cash! And he’s laughing and we’re laughing and it’s just great.

He gave us a tremendous interview and after he’s done he shakes hands with all of us and then says, “Well, gonna go back into the Popemobile now.” And he gets back in and ascends into heaven. Or at least the third story of their house. And as a former Catholic school girl I couldn’t resist. I made the sign of the cross in the manner of a pope as the Man in Black disappears above our heads. And the last thing I saw was him reacting, throwing back his head laughing and slapping his knee. It was a great moment.

Another great moment in the film was spending time with Ms. Janette Carter. What an amazing woman. Such strength of character and such vision. To hear her talk about her father, A.P. Carter and the love and admiration she had for him. When A.P. tells her “Janette, I want you to carry on the music” and she says “Daddy, I will try.” Well, she didn’t just try. She decided the fulfillment of that promise was to build a music venue and have live traditional music every Saturday night for decades! A.P. could never have imagined such dedication. I was blown away by this lady.

Do you have a favorite Carter Family song?

Well, I do love “The Winding Stream” and especially since we shot a really nice version of Rosanne Cash performing it for the film. But I’m also partial to “Diamond in the Rough.” Also “Anchored in Love.” And then there’s….ok, I’ll stop now.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Another Chapter in Our Efforts: Sara and A. P. Carter Meet

Here is the third chapter of "Don't Forget This Song," in living color. In this chapter, our two main characters, A.P. Carter and Sara Dougherty (soon to become Mrs. Carter) have their first meeting. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pages. We hope you enjoy this further glimpse into our project...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Some New Pages To Share, Pt. 1: the birth of Gladys

We are delighted, after a long period of struggle, to be back on track with our graphic novel project. In this and future posts, we'll share new work with you.

Here is a self-contained one-page chapter that chronicles an important day in the history of the Carter Family. We hope you enjoy it. There will be more soon!

Click to enlarge and view in a new window...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Happy New Year, Folks! We're Back At Work...

It's been ages since our last post here. 2010 was a tough year for the DON'T FORGET THIS SONG project. After numerous attempts to negotiate with Peermusic for lyrics usage, we finally opted not to include significant quotes from the Carter Family's songs.

The history of A. P. Carter's songs is complex and tangled. Scholars and fans quibble over who exactly owns what (or who should own what). Ralph Peer's original copyrights of 1927-1941, some of which have been proven patently false, still hold, and there's nothing we can do about that, except to move on.

This was a tough call, and it required an extensive re-tooling of our script. But the book is fine without the lengthy lyrics quotes.

We still have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but the book is in production again. Once we've gotten a chunk of new work finished, we'll post some samples here. Thanks for not forgetting us--and we admit it has been a long, long time!