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The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song Hardcover – October 1, 2012

26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

To tell the story of the first family of country music, Lasky poses simple, flat figures before minimal backdrops, letting color and shading conjure atmosphere. Panels vary little in size; a half-pager’s a real event. Altogether, the art recalls early daily comics and old Carter Family photos. Perhaps only a very distinctive stylist—say, R. Crumb—could have made the book look “better,” even then not making it look better suited to the subject. As for that subject, readers of Mark Zwonitzer and Charles Hirshberg’s Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? (2002) will appreciate how closely Young and Lasky reflect that masterpiece of country music history. The Carters preserved an enormous body of traditional Appalachian song that affected the repertoire, attitudes, harmonies, and rhythms of country music, up to and including rock ’n’ roll. An 18-minute CD lets those who’ve never heard them get acquainted, but chances are that most readers will already know their hits—the likes of “Wildwood Flower,” “Can the Circle Be Unbroken,” and “Keep On the Sunny Side.” --Ray Olson

About the Author

Frank M. Young is a writer and editor who has contributed to newspapers and magazines across the country. Born in the Deep South, he now lives in Seattle. David Lasky has written and illustrated a number of highly acclaimed comic books. Originally from Virginia, David now makes his home in Seattle.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; Includes a music CD with Carter Family songs edition (October 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810988364
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810988361
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Paul C. Tumey on September 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
UPDATE JULY 2013: This book has won the 2013 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work. This recognition from what is essentially the Academy Awards of comics is well-deserved and yet more sign this book deserves a large readership.

ORIGINAL REVIEW:
A masterfully told story of a group of amazing people that saved and shaped a huge part of our musical heritage. As ambitious and densely layered as a mainstream literary novel, Young and Lasky's bio-graphic-novel (we need a "biopic" term for a book like this) of the First Family of country music, the legendary Carter Family, strikes me as destined to become a classic.

I've long followed Lasky's comics. The first Lasky comic I bought (from The Million Year Picnic in Harvard Square) was a mini-comic version of James Joyce's monumental book, Ulysses! I've been a fan of Young's comics for decades as he is an old pal of mine. His modern South classic, Junior Foods, remains one of my all-time favorite comics.

I'm really glad to see this book come out -- I've been waiting for a major work from these guys for years -- and this rich book more than satisfies. The book is a solid read, dense with layers of interesting information, characterization, period detail. It's all written, drawn, and designed in a subtly changing style that mimics the newspaper comics of the era in which the story takes place -- mostly a sort of amalgam of Harold Gray and Frank King. As the years roll on, the art and coloring shifts, just as American newspaper comics did. there's even some black and white "dailies" cleverly woven into the storyline. No attention is called to this. In fact, the black-and-white sequence happens during a time when A.P.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Byron on November 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book takes the format of the "Graphic Novel" and makes it sing. It's a wonderful portrait of the famous Carter Family, capturing the feeling of the rural South they came from and the imaginative, sorrowful mood that helped define the early years of commercial country music. And the sense of humor also.

The excellent artwork evokes the newspaper comics of the time. At some point an annotated edition would be fun!

The storytelling is equally top notch, building the story from chapter to chapter, bringing us close to the people and the songs. The storytelling is flexible, using short chapters that provide vignettes of the Carter Family career, the history of early radio, and American culture and history during those years.

I think this is one of the best books of the year, one of the best books I've read in years - graphic novel or any other kind. It uses the power of the image as flexibly as a good movie.

If you have any affection for or interest in the roots of country music you'll want to read this book, and read it over. Plus the book contains a generous amount of background material - and a CD! The edition looks great. Abrams is to be congratulated.

It seems it took a number of years to bring this to print. Yet there is no faltering. This is a powerful and sustained book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael 'De Smurführer' Thomsen on October 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Excellent graphic novel about the career of The Carter Family, maybe THE seminal group of early recorded music in America.

It uses storytelling techniques inspired by the early comic strips to create something that's more fragmented - and truer to life - than a script for a streamlined Hollywood bio-pic would be.

The artwork by David Lasky is quite beautiful. It's clearly somewhat inspired by master cartoonist Robert Crumb's much lauded strips about early blues musicians. But unlike Crumb's short strips this book has the feel and scope of a real novel.

The coloring is beautiful too. Apparently it was mostly done by Frank M. Young - he's the guy who wrote the book - so he's clearly a man of both visual and linguistic talents. It would have been easy to create a faded (and perhaps somewhat boring) retro-look by using mostly low-key brown and yellow colors. But the varied colors used create a variety of moods for the different chapters - yet in the end it all DOES add up to something that looks faded and 'retro' - but not boring at all.

You don't need to be a Carter Family fan to enjoy this book - it tells an engaging and human story. But perhaps it helps if you're interested in American popular culture, or is a fan of some of all the haunting and compelling musical artists that have followed in the trail of the Carters... Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Dylan, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Nick Cave, Bonnie Prince Billy.... or scores of country and folk artists.

This feels like it could have been 'The Graphic Novel of the Year' any year that Chris Ware hadn't released his acclaimed magnum opus "Building Stories". Oh well, this will have to be the more modest and accessible - and maybe less depressing - runner-up.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joel Dames on November 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I knew nothing about the Carter family and never really cared much for their mountain music. Amazingly, I did not put the book down and finished it in one reading, or very close to it. It was fascinating how fame changed and did not change their lives, and what you sacrifice getting there. The graphics gave it a movie dimension that came to life for me.
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