Z2 Comics, which has published a number of graphic novels with musical themes, has a new one queued up for February: Tales of the Music Makers, by Gary Dumm.
The graphic novel is a benefit project for the Music Maker Relief Foundation, which is a bit like a music version of the Hero Initiative: It “provides resources to elderly, southern musicians living in poverty and keeps southern, musical culture alive by recording albums, arranging concerts and museum exhibitions, and publishing books.”
The graphic novel will tell the stories of a number of Southern musicians, and two of these stories were written by Harvey Pekar: One is about Willa Mae Buckner, a singer who included stripping, sword swallowing, and snake handling into her act, and the other tells the story of guitarist Preston Fulp, who made his first recordings at the age of 78, just a few months before he died.
Pekar was a “huge music head,” said Music Maker Relief Foundation founder Tim Duffy. The two met in 1998, when Pekar was writing an article for the local paper about a tour featuring some of the artists the Foundation supported. They hit it off, and Pekar wrote the two comics, which were illustrated by Dumm. After that, Dumm wrote and illustrated more short comics biographies of the musicians, which can be seen on the Foundation’s website. The musicians in the graphic novel include
- Music Maker Foundation’s guiding light, blues great Guitar Gabriel, AKA “Razorblade.”
- Cora Mae Bryant, daughter of Georgia guitar legend Curley Weaver and friend of the great Blind Willie McTell.
- Piedmont-style fingerpicking guitar legend Etta Baker.
- Louisiana soul singer and Dan Auerbach collaborator Robert Finley.
- GRAMMY-winner, Blues Hall of Famer, and Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award winner Taj
Mahal, who explains why he sits on the Music Maker advisory board.
- Mississippi gospel trio and Daptone Records group Como Mamas.
- Rhythm & blues and jazz pianist and vocalist and World War II veteran and former member of the Ink Spots Eddie Tigner, who still plays regularly in Atlanta.
- Adolphus Bell, known as the One-Man Blues Band.
- Willa Mae Buckner, a performer known as the snake lady who performed in an all-black tent show, stripping, singing bawdy songs, swallowing swords, and handling snakes.
The graphic novel also includes a downloadable soundtrack with music by these and other musicians. It will go on sale on Feb. 12.