Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Big Planet signing last summer

Thank you to Mike Rhode for documenting my signing at Big Planet Comics in Bethesda, MD on his Comics DC blog...

He took some great photos, including one of Martha Burns and me. I was thrilled that she was willing to play a set of Carter Family tunes...

Belatedly, I want to thank everyone who came out to see me (in the horrible DC-area traffic), including classmates from elementary school to college, and my Aunt Bev and Uncle Mark!  Thanks to Greg Bennet for hosting at his lovely Big Planet Comics Bethesda store!

(Trivia: The store is located just a few blocks from where the Red Fox Inn, a historic bluegrass venue, was once located.  Martha and I stopped to look at the spot afterwards, now called Positano Ristorante Italiano. I took a moment to remember autoharp master Ron Penix, who had played at the Red Fox, and who had recently passed away.)

Friday, October 17, 2014

New from Rosanne Cash

I just stumbled across this nice article about Rosanne Cash and her new album (which mentions The Carter Family), written by Geoffrey Himes for Smithsonian Magazine...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Carter Family is Part of "The Best American Comics of 2014!"

We're delighted and excited to be a part of the newest installment in this venerable series of books. Critics are already raving about this 2014 edition.

Paul Constant of The Stranger has said: "...I find myself declaring to you that The Best American Comics 2014 is the best edition of The Best American Comics to ever be published." He adds:

The end result is a book you can hand anyone as an overview of where comics are as an art form in the year 2014. In fact, I may even take my earlier hypocritical claim one step further and call this 
the best book I've ever read in the whole Best American series. It's informative, funny, surprising, and a satisfying reading experience on its own. This should be the book that every Best American guest editor aspires to emulate in years to come.

Click HERE to read a witty and informative interview of Scott McCloud by the Washington Post's Scott Cavna.

Bill Kartalopoulos, the series editor for this project, discusses his work on the anthologies in THIS INTERVIEW. These books are invaluable for making the more adventurous byroads of comics art accessible to the average reader--the person or persons who would blanch at the thought of entering a typical comic book shop, but who might peruse this book in the more dignified setting of a bookstore or library.

An unusual chapter from the Carter Family graphic novel was chosen for this book. "The Program is Morally Good" (pp. 79-83 in the GN) attempts to capture the atmosphere of the original Carter Family in live performance. It was one of many challenging moments in which David Lasky and I had the task of bringing the feeling of music to the silent printed (and drawn) page.

I enjoyed coloring this sequence, as it gave me several different lighting sources to influence my palette--from the pale pre-dawn that opens the chapter to the claustrophobic, humid lamplit scenes of the Carters in concert. David's atmosphere of the performance panels really brings this interlude to life.

We're just one facet of this book, which features sequences from Chris Ware's blockbuster Building Stories, Ben Katchor, Charles Burns, R. Crumb and Aline Kominsky, Adrian Tomine, Tom Hart, Ron Rege Jr., The Hernandez Brothers and many other notables. It's a great honor to be in such esteemed comics company. David and I encourage you to check out this new volume, which will give you a strong taster of what's going on in the diverse, challenging and enriching world of today's comics and graphic novels.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

How to Make a Graphic Novel (One Example)

Many people look at the credits to the book: “by Frank M. Young and David Lasky” and assume that Frank wrote the story and I did everything else.  The real story of how the graphic novel came to be is so much more complicated that I think it deserves an explanation here. 

Frank and I had a very evenly divided partnership, which is a little unusual for comics, where often the writer turns in a script and leaves the artists to do the larger share of the labor.  Because I have writing skills, we co-plotted the story (which was based on real life events) and created a chapter-by-chapter outline together. Because Frank has drawing and computer graphics skills, he was able to draw half the thumbnails with me, and color the entire book (except for a handful of pages I colored, based on Frank’s guides, and a few that Jim Gill colored).  Frank’s coloring, which evokes 1930s comic strips, does so much to enliven and unify the pages, I considered it the most important visual element in the book.

I drew the print-sized rough draft of the book (with Frank helping out on a chapter), and at the same time, Frank began to write dialogue based on how much space was available. Frank would later go back and revise all of the dialogue. In the thumbnail and rough stages, we also did a lot of editing together, to make sure the story moved along at a good pace and had all the information we wanted to include.

When the whole book was roughed out, I then penciled and inked all of the oversized finished art (with help on many of the pages from background inkers Sean Michael Robinson and Carl Nelson, with additional support from Tom Dougherty, Dalton Webb, and Vince Aparo).  As soon as I would finish inking a batch of pages, Frank would scan and color them. He would also lay out the pages and add my letters to the word ballons in InDesign.  From there, the fantastic design team at Abrams ComicArts prepared the pages to go to press. Our editor, Charles Kochman, who was checking in with us over the course of the project, gave the text a thorough edit before it went to press.

Because this was a historical book, we both did research, often at the same time as the book was being written and drawn.  Historical facts had to be checked for accuracy.  Visual elements had to look right for the era being depicted. At one time, Frank had worked as a journalist, and brought those skills to the book, conducting several phone interviews with scholars and relatives of the Carters and Peers. We also managed to track down some important archival interviews.  My friend Susan spent a weekend researching at an archive in Chapel Hill, NC for us. And in one crucial act of research, Frank tracked down some public domain sheet music that allowed us to use a good portion of lyrics that were important to the story -- without fear of copyright infringement.

There was no easy way to say who did what, which is why you see the simple credit: “by Frank M. Young and David Lasky.” It was a true collaboration, where we accomplished something that neither of us could have done on our own.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

La Famille Carter: A French Translation of Our Graphic Novel!

THIS LINK will take you to La Pasteque's page announcing the imminent publication of their French-language version of Don't Forget This Song, our Eisner-winning graphic novel on the Carter Family!

David and I are curious how the book's rural dialects will parse into the French language. We hope this book will reach a wider audience, as people are more hep to good comics in France than they are in the U.S.

We're delighted with the news of this French version. Unfortunately, their webpage only has one very small interior page. It appears to have its dialogue in French.

I assume we'll get some copies of this edition. When that happens, we'll reproduce some pages here! More news soon...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Carter Family reaches Alaska!

Jamie Smith reads his copy of "Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song" at The Comic Shop of Fairbanks, AK.  Thanks to The Comics Shop for making sure the book is available in Alaska, and thanks to Jamie, who is a cartoonist himself, for purchasing a copy (and providing this photo)!

On a related note: If your local shop is having trouble ordering "Carter Family", I am told that Tony Shenton is a distributor who can get Abrams ComicsArts books to stores without a problem...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A great new home for the Birthplace of Country Music Museum

I visited Bristol (on the VA/TN border) back in 2003, because I wanted to see where the Carter Family made their first recordings. A highlight of my visit was the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. But the museum was located NOT on historic State Street, where the Bristol Sessions happened in 1927, but outside of town, inside a shopping mall.  Though the location was disappointing, the museum was rewarding.

I was so happy to hear the news that the museum has opened in a new location, just off State Street, and its appearance has the blend of charm and authority that a visitor to the site of the "Big Bang of Country Music" would hope for. 

(photo borrowed from NPR's site)

This is the musuem's website:

For added details, check out this NPR report...

Congratulations to "Winding Stream"!

Congratulations to Beth Harrington and crew on the success of "The Winding Stream", the definitive documentary of the Carter and Cash families.  The film had its New York debut to a packed house at Lincoln Center on Monday. It has won four festival awards (so far). And was written about by Rolling Stone:

I'm still waiting for it to come to Seattle...  Can't wait to see it!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Graphic Novel Resources

A nice intro to the graphic novel "Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song" has been posted here.

Thank you, Prof Botzakis at University of Tennessee Knoxville.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

TCAF paper

I just discovered an exciting first for the Carter Family graphic novel... An academic paper -- to be delivered at TCAF (in Toronto). Wow...

Saturday May 10th
Candida Rifkind, “Graphic Nostalgia and Musical Modernity in Frank M. Young and David Lasky’s The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song”

Monday, April 28, 2014

Beth Harrington on TV

In this link, documentary filmmaker Beth Harrington talks about her Carter and Cash Family documentary, " The Winding Stream" on Portland TV... Every time I see clips from this movie, I get chills. I can't wait to see the whole thing!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Winding Stream screenings in Nashville!

Beth Harrington's definitive documentary on The Carter Family (and Cash Family), "The Winding Stream", will be showing in Nashville as part of the Nashville Film Fest. Unfortunately, the film was somehow not listed in local paper "Nashville Scene".  So let's get the word out!

On Facebook, Beth writes: "The crucial screening - the one some of the family is coming to - is Sunday April 20 at 7. (There's another on April 22 at noon). The theatres are the Green Hills cinema. Tickets are available there and on the Nashville Film festival website."

If I was in Nashville, I would be seeing that film on April 20.  Here is the link for tickets:

UPDATE: "Nashville Scene" has mentioned the screenings online!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spotted at Four Seasons Books, Shepherdstown, WV


Today a friend told me that a friend of his spotted the "Carter Family" graphic novel displayed at a bookstore in Berlin (Germany)! 

And Cece Bell spotted it at Four Seasons books in Shepherdstown, WV, and snapped the photo above.  Thank you Four Seasons!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bluegrass class in Seattle

Frank and I were honored to have Cliff Perry and Laurel Bliss perform the music of the Carter Family at our book launch, and later at a Ballard Library signing.  For anyone interested in learning bluegrass from a master jedi of bluegrass, Cliff Perry is offering a class at Shoreline Community College!  His info follows...

Spring Quarter 2014 Bluegrass Band Class
at Shoreline Community College
Small Ensemble Performance, Bluegrass Band
MUSC 147 ITEM #1527 = Remember, there is no “I” in MUSC
Starts Tuesday, April 1, 2014(no fooling!)at 7:30 PM, Room 818 Music Bldg
Friends & Neighbors. Please forward this message.
MUSC 147 ITEM #1527 is a ONE credit class. Register NOW, as Spring Quarter starts soon. In class we form bands and work towards an in-class performance at quarter’s end. We have fun while learning to play bluegrass music together. The Music Building (Building #800) is in the Southeast corner of the Shoreline Community College campus. Tuition for ONE credit is affordable.
Register online or in person. Problems? Just come to the first class!
Questions? Contact your teacher:
Cliff Perry 206-789-8273

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Winding Stream to Premiere at SXSW!

Filmmaker Beth Harrington has been working on "The Winding Stream", the definitive Carter Family documentary, for well over a decade, having interviewed Johnny Cash, Mike Seeger, Rita Forrester, and many other luminaries, and recorded performances by some of country music's best artists (Roseanne Cash, George Jones, John Prine, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops among others)...  And now, at last, the film is done and getting ready to be shown on the festival circuit!  It will debut on March 15, 2014 at South X Southwest.

I'm so happy for Beth, and anxious to see this film myself!  Beth, will there be a Seattle screening?? 

Watch the trailer here:

UPDATE: Rolling Stone gave "Winding Stream" a Best of SXSW mention!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

RIP, Pete Seeger

David and I were saddened to hear of the passing of folk singer/musicologist/political activist Pete Seeger. He carried on some of the traditions of the Carter Family's music, and kept their American folk sound alive and well through the 20th century and into this.

Though Seeger's politics would have probably made A. P. Carter's blood boil, I'm sure both men would have been on the same page about music--about its power to reach people, move their souls, and inspire them in their lives.

HERE is the Los Angeles Times' obituary of Mr. Seeger. The elder Seeger outlived his equally famous and talented half-brother, Mike, by a few years.

I had the pleasure of talking twice with Mike Seeger in preparation for our Carter Family graphic novel. It was great to be able to talk music with him, and he offered some valuable insights on the playing styles of Sara and Maybelle Carter.

The musical legacy of the Seegers helped to keep folk and traditional American music alive and well in the mainstream of America. Pete Seeger's life story is a dramatic one, and would make a great bio-pic (or graphic novel). There is a wealth of information, video and visuals out there on the Internet. Take a moment and remember this passionate, highly influential man and his music.

Here's a fascinating video in which Pete Seeger talks about the Carters and Virginia, and interacts with June Carter and Johnny Cash:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bristol Sessions at Lincoln Center

Our Carter Family graphic novel went on sale at NYC's Lincoln Center for two nights only (Friday and Saturday) as part of Bill Frisell's "Roots of Americana" series.
Thanks to all who made our book available at this prestigious venue!