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Wednesday October 3, 2012 10:58 pm

The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song




Posted by Tom Mason Categories: Reviews, Independent

Carter FamilyThere are two kinds of music I don’t like: Country and Western. And there’s one kind of comic book I’m not naturally drawn to: the celebrity biography, particularly one of a musical act.

And yet at San Diego this year, I picked up a preview copy of Abrams Comicarts’ upcoming musical biography graphic novel The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song by Frank M. Young and David Lasky.

I’m not supposed to quote from it since it’s an uncorrected proof - a sampler - and only contains the first 64 pages out of 192, but based on what I read, I’m hooked.

The Carter Family is a legendary music act that featured A.P (Alvin Pleasant), Sara and Maybelle Carter and that, from 1927 to 1956, pretty much defined and set the standard for country music. They sang, recorded and kept alive classic tunes and also wrote their own. June Carter was one of the Carters and she eventually married Johnny Cash - the Carter Family had a long reach.

It’s a brilliantly done book and I wouldn’t be surprised to find it on the Eisner ballot for next year. Writer Young weaves his story based on research and interviews with people involved (the selected bibliography at the end is boggling). He avoids the trap that most bio comics fall into: captions. What I’ve read has limited captions and uses dialogue to move the story forward. It’s a great example of how to write a bio comic. The dialogue is understated and the story is as affecting as it is historical.

The art by Lasky, a multiple Ignatz nominee, has his typical lowkey indy look - which is to say it’s beautiful. It’s a perfect match of artist to material. His style fits the era well, and the coloring gives it an historical atmosphere without looking old-fashioned.

I’m sure the actual book will be just as terrific as the sampler. And even if you don't like country music - like me - it's still a great biography of a fascinating family. It goes on sale this month (October 2012) and I highly recommend it. I pre-ordered my copy. (Apparently the actual book comes with a CD of the Carter Family music, so, bonus.)

(Artwork: The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song)

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