Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness by Reinhard Kleist

Johnny Cash's story has been told before in books, movies, and documentaries. Now it is the subject of a gritty graphic novel, Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness by Reinhard Kleist, which focuses on the singer's life up to his direction changing 1968 concert in Folsom Prison. Through black and white panels, the author/illustrator recounts the death of Cash's brother Roy, his military service, unhappy marriage, and early time at Sun Records, leading up to his addiction to drugs and arrest for smuggling. He also inserts panels on the life of Glen Sherley, an Folsom inmate who wrote a song that Cash sang at the daring concert. Kleist makes no apologies for Cash, who abandoned his family, broke the law, and disappointed many concert goers with bad performances. Feeling that his songs spoke to and for them, however, many of his fans stuck with him. This frank but sympathetic graphic novel is 223 pages and may take several hours to read.

For a deeper look at Cash's life as a whole, try Johnny Cash: The Biography by Michael Streissguth, who has also written Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison: The Making of a Masterpiece.

Kleist, Reinhard. Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness. Abrams ComicArts, c2009. ISBN 9780810984639.

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