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Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness Paperback – October 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; First Edition edition (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810984636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810984639
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #486,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Kleist taps into the mythic quality of the Man in Black's rise from impoverished farming in Depression-era Arkansas to his early success in the 1950s, pulling no punches depicting Cash's drug dependency and the gradual erosion of his first marriage thanks to constant touring and run-ins with the law. He takes readers through Cash's evolution as an artist whose work and social consciousness reflected the changing and volatile times in his troubled country. There are few figures in the history of 20th-century American music whose impact and appeal bore the resonance of Cash's, and this stark and stunning graphic novel—winner of several awards in Europe—is a marvel of visual storytelling that does great honor to both his distinctively American epic of triumph and tragedy and to the universality of the songs he sang. A solid winner from cover to cover, this effort is highly recommended for just about anyone intrigued by an American icon. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Kleist double-frames his starkly drawn, fluidly imagined graphic biography, the winner of three European awards, of country-music star Cash. The outer frame is provided by the scenarios of two lowering country perennials, Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” which Kleist visualizes so powerfully that the curiously off versions of the songs’ lyrics (perhaps re-Englished from German translations) can almost be overlooked. The inner frame homes in on the book’s ostensible narrator, Folsom inmate Glen Sherley, whose song “Greystone Chapel” Cash added at the last minute to his famous 1968 recorded performance at the prison. (A brief flash-forward to Cash in his latter years, choosing repertoire for his American Recordings, forms a handsome buffer between the two frames’ closing parentheses.) The book covers Cash’s earlier life, from Depression-era childhood to the Folsom performance, but since the only major development of his career missed is his gospel period, it satisfies pretty keenly, not least because Kleist, whose style suggests Will Eisner heavily affected by film-noir lighting and composition, segues often and beautifully between the life of the man and the lives in his songs. --Ray Olson

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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The imagery alone makes this book worth it.
Tye Tyson
If you like this you will like the film Walk the Line, and the book House of Cash by John Carter Cash.
RJ Stokely
If you are a Johnny Cash fan, a fan of good graphic novels or just a music lover, but this book ASAP.
Sabbath Soldier

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Johnny Heering on December 8, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This graphic novel is a biography of Johnny Cash. It doesn't go into all the major events in Cash's life, but instead dramatizes a few big moments in detail. The Folsom Prison concert in particular gets several pages. The artwork is great and the story is riveting, even if you already know a lot about Johnny Cash. This is a great book that I highly recommend.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sabbath Soldier on February 3, 2010
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If you are a Johnny Cash fan, a fan of good graphic novels or just a music lover, but this book ASAP. It does a great job covering a lot of the inner details of Cash's life, including a lot of those left out from the entertaining, but flawed "Walk the Line." Klest gives us a fuller, more textured image of Cash, more in-line with the portrait painted by his recordings. Cash as an artist defied broad brush analysis. He could be passionate, profane, reverent and crude, patriotic and doubtful and could meld these contradictions almost seemlessly (sometimes in the subject of one song!). For whatever reason, get this book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Christina (A Reader of Fictions) TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
Although this biography of Johnny Cash is divided into three sections of years in Cash's life, the graphic novel jumps in time. These jumps can be a bit confusing at times, but, by the end, I was able to put it all together. One of the really neat things Kleist did was to sometimes do a story within a story, where he would go into the plot of the songs for a couple of pages. I thought that was really unique and clever.

Certainly this graphic novel leaves a lot out, but I think Kleist did a great job capturing what Johnny Cash was like. Of course, I haven't read anything about Johnny Cash before (I've only seen the movie Walk the Line). Still, based on all of the awards it raked in, I would imagine that it is true to the soul of the man.

The illustrations, while not my favorite type of art, fit the subject matter perfectly. Cash is a man of grizzled, rough features; of pain and darkness; of complexity. He could not be pictured in a pretty style; this gritty artwork does the job. The only place that I didn't think it worked was in the brief section on his childhood. Kleist does not seem to be able to draw youthful people; everyone in the book looked at least 35, and a hard-living 35 at that.

Now I really want to go listen to some more Johnny Cash songs, as I have very few (and mostly just the super popular ones that he probably got really sick of). It's amazing that he was able to recover from his addiction and escape the omnipresent darkness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amadeus on May 25, 2010
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This graphic novel is an unbelievable experience for anyone - for Cash buffs, it instills the feeling that you were near Mr. Cash at every important moment in his life; for the new fans, it is an educational experience unlike any other. Klein's graphic depictions of numerous Cash songs are particularly entertaining. A must for any library.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Doris J. Nash on February 16, 2010
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My mom asked me to order this for my Dad for Christmas. I figured it was a biography of Johnny Cash, but imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a graphic biography! I have not read the book myself, but in looking through it, the artwork looks terrific. I would like to borrow it from Dad once he's finished it. It looks really interesting!
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Format: Paperback
This is an amazing graphic novel biography of the singer songwriter Johnny Cash as told through the eyes of writer and singer of the song "Grey Stone Chapel," while he is waiting for Cash to perform at Folsom Prison. The Bio spans from Cash's childhood to his final year. The graphic novel is interspersed with comic book versions of Cash's hits including "Don't Take Your Guns to Town," "The Ballad of Ira Hayes," and "Boy Named Sue." The art work by Mr. Kleist is very well done. I would highly recommend this to any fan of Johnny Cash or any comic book fan in general. If you like this you will like the film Walk the Line, and the book House of Cash by John Carter Cash.
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