Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Artist Howard Salmon just finished a comic series on legendary Tucson rocker Al Perry.
Salmon, no stranger to the Tucson music scene, was drummer for the legendary Phantom Limbs on the band's first two albums, and has played with Al Perry and the Cattle, as well as Rainer and Das Combo. From 1980 to 1983, Salmon wrote and published Slit, a fanzine about Tucson's early punk scene.
Al Perry Comix is a 24-page tribute to Perry following a series of interviews Salmon did with the guitar hero. Read Salmon's own description of the comic after the jump.
I met with Al three times at his place, which is around the University. My only record of the interviews were hand-written notes, which I jotted down. The room was completely dark, but he left the door open a crack to let some light in. He seemed very nervous, and when I first got there, he nervously gave me a tour of everything: his kitchen, his bike, his massive record collection, and all of his kitchy objects and souvenirs that are stacked all around his place. I got most of my ideas by just looking around his place asking him about stuff: "Why do you have so many pictures of the Last Supper?" "Do you ever worry that your stacks of records will fall over?" " Why don't you turn on some lights?" etc. But he also offered a lot of info, stuff that he obviously thought about in advance. He asked me, "Do you want to know my five rules for who can be in a band?" I also based some of the questions on an article he'd recently written for the Downtown Tucsonan, where he vents about bands that don't know anything about the roots of rock music.
After I had a bunch of notes (usually just a page of quotes), I'd work them into a 4-panel comic strip. Some of the stuff I created as a foil for some of Al's remarks, such as his "dog"; he doesn't have a dog, but I felt that a dog would be a good vehicle for him to vent about music.
Otherwise, he'd be just talking to himself, and that would be too creepy, even though it might be true!
One of my hopes for the Al Perry Comix was that it would be part of the revitalization of Downtown Tucson. I know that that sounds ridiculously self-important, but I reasoned that Al is the most well-known and loved character in the local music scene, and he works at the front desk of the most popular nightspot in Tucson: Club Congress. Besides, Tucson doesn't have a visible underground comix scene, so why not start one in Downtown Tucson, with Al Perry as its "face"?