Willie Nelson: A Graphic History


By T.J. Kirsch, Coşkun Kuzgun, Jeremy Massie, Håvard S. Johansen, Jesse Lonergan, Jason Pittman, J.T. Yost,Adam Walmsley & various (NBM)
ISBN: 978-1-68112-262-5 (HB) eISBN: 978-1-68112-263-2

I live a pretty blessed life these days. I love history and am addicted to comics and many of the best ones are just sent to me. The present trend is to combine both of my passions in graphic biographies – or even autobiographies. Our continental cousins have pretty much collared the market on the former, with a range of personal histories featuring the great, the good and especially the extremely cool, but just for a change here’s an all American(ish) confection that deftly hits that elusive sweet spot.

Whether you’re a fan or not of the music, you can’t deny the tenacity and enormous spirit of musician, writer, actor, filmmaker and activist Willie Nelson: an outsider’s outsider.

Utilising the talents of a group of indie artists writer T.J. Kirsch has compiled an effective and moving monochrome testament to the troubadour’s determination and talent which begins in 1933 in ‘Hill County, Texas’. Rendered throughout in monochrome, the history begins with Coşkun Kuzgun detailing a hard life for a young boy wedded to mischief and addicted to music…

As they grew, Willie and sister Bobbie became local celebrities – but not rich – performing, so he began a career in radio, using the opportunity to plug his own material. Never finding that elusive hit, Willie joined the Air Force in 1951 until a persistent back injury forced him out of the services, just in time to stumble into matrimony…

‘A Humble Picker’ (by Jeremy Massie) traces that tempestuous relationship and Willie’s attempts to feed his family in and out of showbiz, before sliding back into disc jockeying and discovering marijuana…

The slow painful climb begins in Håvard S. Johansen’s ‘Country Willie’, continues in ‘Grinding Away’ (Jesse Lonergan) and culminates in professional breakthroughs and personal breakdowns in Austin, Texas (by Jason Pittman) as 1970 sees the true commencement of the legend…

J.T. Yost depicts a life hard-lived but well-worth the effort in ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ and the saga sparkles to a close – for now – in the all-T.J. Kirsch chapter ‘Elder Statesman’, revealing that music and legends just keep on going…

With Intro, Outro, Chapter and Endpaper illustrations by Adam Walmsley plus a bibliography and full ‘Song Credits’listing, this is an immensely likable tract that feels like a journey shared with a most interesting stranger. You may not like the music – yet – but you’ll be unable to not love the indomitable, irrepressible man.

© 2020 T.J. Kirsch and each respective artist. All rights reserved and managed by NBM Publishing, Inc.
First printing September 2020

Willie Nelson: A Graphic History is scheduled for release in hardback and digitally on September 15th 2020, and is available for pre-order now.

Most NBM books are also available in digital formats. For more information and other great reads see http://www.nbmpub.com/