Brian kicks off his album, The Brian Show, with a track called "It's All True." In creating the concept for the artwork that would accompany this album, a larger-than-life, musical retelling of Brian's own journey through life, the producers created a "Myth of Brian" narrative and additional production notes for me to look at, along with the lyrics to the wonderful songs Brian had written, to help inspire some of the outrageous characters and scenarios pictured in the artwork. Like Brian's epic, retelling of his life through song, the characters and art that would accompany that narrative needed to be equally larger-than-life, equally honest in the critiques they present, and equally based on the observations of the artist, in this case, me.
Thank you all for coming out to my big show
Before I get it started there’s something you should know
I’m obsessed with honesty and accuracy too
So when I sing about something you can bet that it’s all true
Brian, memorialized in stone, looks out at the audience. "TRUTH" is engraved below him on a pedestal: a tribute to faithful tale telling, the universal observer, and life according to Brian. A bird craps on his head while flying overhead; a dash of the profane. On the left, a young singer/guitar player sits on a bench, playing for tips. A lone kid with a red balloon stares skeptically at the earnest singer, who is striving to do the artist's part to tell the truth. At the same time, I wanted the kid's skepticism to be understandable; the musician doesn't appear particularly inspiring, evoking a foolishness and an idealism on his part. On the right, a couple walks beside a literal shark in a suit, a loan shark spouting obvious bull crap, while the couple ‘eats it up.’ They seem content to play along the roles society has given them, even if that role is to be taken advantage of by the very system that society is built upon.
The note I got from the producers that led me to draw a shark, was "obvious con-type." One of the fun challenges of the project was figuring out visual ways of communicating the pretty abstract and complicated ideas Brian is able to evoke and dissect through his music. The collaborative nature of the project was unlike anything I'd done before, and translating ideas from music to cartooning required mental and artistic flexibility, openness and quite a few worthwhile revisions.
What do you choose to believe? What is your truth, and how do you express it?