Released in September 2016, The Brian Show marks the recording debut of Oahu-based musician, singer and songwriter Brian Von Ahsen (Von Awesome Music). Back in 2014, Brian approached me to create artwork to accompany the forthcoming album. The project went through its ups and downs, and the initial poster idea I created (which you can see by supporting me on Patreon with a minimum $1 pledge) was scrapped in favor of a much more complicated, but really cool, idea: To create a comic poster where each panel tied directly to one of the songs on the album. (You can view the completed panels in the Artwork gallery.)
Over the next two years, the project developed slowly, with no additional funding, despite the added complexity and time required to generate so much additional content. But, after many hours of work and rework, the project has finally come together and the album is now available through Music Baby.
Brian's contemporary alternative, joke-folk style covers topics that run the gamut from punk and politics to existential philosophy and the mental health industry. The album follows Brian's life story in song: from his college years to his experience working in a psychiatric hospital to the open mic sessions at the popular local bar Anna Bananas (now Anna O’Brien’s). Some of Hawaii’s finest independent musicians accompany Brian on this journey, including Alika Lyman (Alika Lyman Group), Charley Myers (Hamajang), Elijah Oguma (Sing The Body), Ginai Hill, Ian Chames (The Chames Gang), Leslie Klein (Saloon Pilots), Michael Wall (Fire Tribe Hawaii), Pierre Grill, Reggie Padilla, Stephen Inglis and Steven Howells (The Space Kadets). Musical style ranges from punk, to country, and folk to doo-wop and, of course, good ol' rock'n'roll.
Order the physical CD for a couple dollars more and you'll receive a print of the beautiful, double-sided, full color 9.5″ x 11″ fold-out comic poster I created to illustrate each and every song.
The process for creating each panel involved a serious amount of brainstorming with Brian and his co-producers, Evan and Kevin. The goal of the panel is to capture, in a visual medium, the essence of each song. The image should compliment and enhance the messages in Brian's wonderful lyrics, and add a bit of visual humor to make things fun and exciting. Of course, the poster itself is a great collectible item and would look seriously great up on your wall.
My favorite part about the project was getting to try out different styles for each panel. We decided early on that, since every panel has Brian in it, or a version of Brian, it would be more interesting to depict Brian in different styles. This ties in with the theme of storytelling and whether everything Brian tells you actually is "all true." The tall tales and the real stories blend together differently in each song, and I wanted to try and evoke that same feeling of alternate versions of reality in each panel. The result is that some panels are done in a hyper-cartoonish way, while others are more painterly, and still others are more graphic and stylized.
Please check out the finished pieces in my Artwork gallery, currently located on the home page, visit my Patreon to help support my work (patrons receive cool benefits, like a look at the original poster I designed for the album) and be sure to give The Brian Show a listen on Music Baby and consider making a purchase to support the creation of Von Awesome Music.