The second song on Brian Von Ahsen's new album, The Brian Show, entitled "Good Boy," describes Brian's journey from hopeful youth to pragmatic adult, helping to set the stage for the emphasis on observation and truth-seeking that Brian holds to this day.
The image itself is of college-age Brian at a dorm party, "buzzin," as the production notes call for. Despite the distractions and pleasures of college partying (front and center-right), which Brian has gotten good at enjoying, he has begun to realize that there is more to life and that he should seek higher occupation.
The poster is of a future iteration of Brian, confident and much more content, guitar in hand, with Hawaii as the backdrop. This is as clear a sign as he could ever get to drop everything and make a life-altering move to the islands. The idea for the poster was based on a real experience Brian had with a sultry tourist poster advertising the beauty of Hawaii, and the vast differences Brian would encounter should he decide to relocate there. This triggered the "ah ha" moment I tried to express through Brian's reaction. This both sparks and predicts his future in the islands. Future Brian in the poster is wearing an "It's All True" shirt, which is actually a real thing, but--more importantly--ties back in to the premise of the album.
Well I used to be a good boy, but that’s a long time ago
If it was ever good for anything it’s in the stories I have told
Now I don’t do much of anything I don’t make such a fuss
I just live to write songs and sing as I’m driving my bus
There’s a whole lot of happiness in this simpleton life
Just remember to call me if you’re feeling all right
In creating the different versions of Brian you see throughout the artwork for this album, I studied old photos of Brian thoroughly. Another, younger version of Brian, was created, initially, to go with this song; that was for the original poster I designed, which was meant to be a single, big-hero style comicbook cover that encompassed the entire album. Once we decided to break the poster into panels, each of which would depict an actual "scene" from the music of each song, that little Brian no longer worked.
Fortunately, I created the original poster with each character as a separate file, meaning I could move them around, or pull then out and re-insert them into any panel I wanted. So little Brian ended up playing the role of an extra in a later panel ("War On Truth"). Even though he's never credited as Little Brian, and you might never know unless you're reading this blog post (in which case, you win the game), I think it's a cool little Easter egg for the "War On Truth" panel to have Little Brian watching Old Brian get arrested for singing on the street for coin. Like this panel, it's an instance of Brian looking at himself, invoking the principle of self-reflection while, simultaneously, adding the possibility of a neat time-traveling story arc.
Be sure to check out Brian's album on Music Baby (you can take a listen to the music), and visit the artwork gallery on this website to look at all the completed panels. Purchase the physical CD copy of the album for just a few dollars more, and you'll also receive the beautiful, double-sided, full color, 9.5″ x 11″ fold-out comic poster illustrating each song. Support thewillcaron on Patreon (patrons get access to hidden content, including the original big-hero poster I designed), and keep checking back for more behind-the-scenes content and artistic break-downs of the different panels that went into this novel music+artwork collaboration.