Late singer-songwriter and visual artist Daniel Johnston’s art will grace a set of three exclusive variant covers for Batman #121 in conjunction with the upcoming Daniel Johnston: I Live My Broken Dreams art exhibition at The Contemporary Austin in Austin, Texas.
The genesis of the idea came from the exhibition’s curator, Robin K. Williams, after she noticed a letter Johnston had written to the current Editor-in-Chief of DC Comics, Marie Javins, that requested her help getting his artwork into comics. The letter, which was penned in the 1990s, “…was strange and touching,” says Williams, “because he was already an internationally successful musician when he wrote it. When I asked Marie about it, she said, ‘Daniel had two loves, music and art, and always wanted to be a comic book artist.’ This gave her the beautiful idea to finally make this happen.”
Javins says that she has “…been an avid collector of Daniel’s artwork since I met him in 1986—but not always on purpose. He’d draw pictures on letters he’d send to me over the years, and we even collaborated on some art when I was a professional comic book colorist. I’m thrilled to see his Batman, Superman, and Orion art come to life on these ABC retailer variants.”
Electric Lady Studios (which serves as the caretaker for the Daniel Johnston art catalog on behalf of Johnston’s surviving family) chose the images to be used for the variant covers, with Lee Foster (Electric Lady’s managing partner) stating that “This is a complete realization of one of Daniel’s biggest dreams—to have his designs featured on a DC cover and sold in his favorite comic shop. It puts a lump in my throat.”
Johnston’s variant covers are currently available for preorder in limited quantities from The Austin Contemporary, Electric Lady Studios, Austin Books & Comics (the comic shop that Johnston frequented), and hihowareyou.com. Each partner will have an exclusive colorway for the folio. The Contemporary Austin will also host a launch event with DC’s Editor-in-Chief Marie Javins in conversation with Curator Robin K. Williams on Wednesday, March 9 at 5:30pm. Tickets and information will be available soon at thecontemporaryaustin.org/events.
Standard versions of Batman #121 (by Joshua Williamson, Jorge Molina, Mikel Janín, Tomeu Morey and Clayton Cowles, including a backup story by Karl Kerschl and Dave McCaig) will be available at your local comic shop on March 1.