• Madness, mental hospitals and MTV take center stage in new graphic novel

    Cavolo If you were going to tell the story of outsider artist and musician Daniel Johnston, a story that includes madness, mental hospitals and MTV, a story of psychotic breakdowns, demonic obsessions and an improbable rise to fame, you'd probably take a conservative, clear-eyed approach.

    That's the path that Jeff Feuerzeig followed in his award-winning documentary, The Devil and Daniel Johnston. In The Incantation of Daniel Johnston, the graphic novel by Ricardo Cavolo and Scott McClanahan, they take a decidedly different approach.

    Cavolo, a visual artist who got his start as a tattooer in Spain, mapped out the story. Cavolo's bold, black outlines put Daniel Johnston at the forefront of his illustrations. Using the lexicon of tattooing, Cavolo's figures are covered in symbols drenched in hyper-bright colors that are almost lurid. He covers his avatars with images of ghosts, guitars, and an endless series of eyeballs and thrusts them into a hallucinatory dreamscape obsessed with the body. Cavolo doesn't just want us tell a story, he wants the reader to imagine what it's like to be Daniel Johnston.

    McClanahan follows the impulse to explore Johnston's interior life and then doubles down with a dose of hardscrabble truth.

    In his autobiographical stories and novels, McClanahan describes what it's like to grow up in southern West Virginia without the resources or safety net afforded to many artists, and that worldview informs every illustration.

    "Carpenters are bipolar too, but it doesn't help them build better houses."

    Despite the resurgence of Daniel Johnston's career due to praise the documentary received, there's no triumph over mental illness like it's a bully in an after school special. One doesn't "beat" mental illness anymore than those battling addiction or dealing with disabilities ever "beat" their demons or afflictions. People with mental health issues deal with it every day, a fact the Appalachian author drives home:

    "So if you think this story is a cute mixture of mental illness and art—then imagine Daniel beating your ass with a lead pipe."

    Even if you're familiar with the earnest yet offbeat work of Johnston, Cavolo and McClanahan, there's no way to prepare yourself for the visions you'll find between the covers of The Incantations of Daniel Johnston.

    CityBeat - by Jim Ruland

    OTHER LINKS: Nothing Romantic About It Musical Salvation The Incantations of Daniel Johnston Johnston Gets the Graphic Novel Treatment

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  • Kent State University EL Branch to host Daniel Johnston BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

    East Liverpool REVIEW

    Kent State-East Liverpool is hosting a two-day event, Thursday-Friday (Jan 21st) to celebrate the birthday of Daniel Johnston, a musician and artist who once attended the local campus.

    The public is encouraged to attend the celebrations, taking place 6:30 p.m. Thursday and 11:30 a.m. Friday, both in the Brown Room of the Mary Paterson Building.

    Aside from showcasing a mix of Johnston's music the events will feature the showing of the short film "Hi, How Are You, Daniel Johnston?," directed by Gabriel Sunday.

    Adjust instructor and local psychologist Dr. Bob Walker will lead discussions about mental illness, recognizing Johnston's well-known struggles with manic depression, paranoia, and schizophrenia.

    Local musician Gregg Harding will perform some of Johnston 's songs during the Thursday event.

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    DANIEL JOHNSTON and MARGY JOHNSTON (brother and sister) to feature their art at Lubbock, Texas art show - Friday, January 8th.


    First Friday Art Trail is a free, self-guided public art happening that has taken Lubbock to the forefront of the Texas art scene. Held predominately in the Lubbock Cultural District, this event brings together collectors, artists and community friends for an evening of art, music and fun. Featuring a variety of art centers, museums, galleries and businesses, First Friday Art Trail offers an ever-changing array of art exhibits in all media. Whether an avid art collector, or a lover of beautiful things, First Friday Art Trail offers something for everyone!

    Held from 6-9pm, rain or shine, on the first Friday of every month, this progressive art event is sure to delight visitors with a plethora of art experiences. Trail goers can grab a map and explore the trail on their own, or jump aboard one of five free First Friday Trolleys and ride to the galleries along the downtown route. First Friday Art Show

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