On February 12, 2019, Z2 Comics will release Tales of the Music Makers, an original graphic novel that showcases the stories of Southern musicians — including the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Taj Mahal and the Como Mamas — and explores the origins and mission of the Music Maker Relief Foundation — a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the true pioneers and forgotten heroes of Southern music gain recognition and meet their day-to-day needs. The Tales of the Music Makers features a downloadable soundtrack, with music recorded by the Music Maker Foundation; an extensive black and white photography archive spanning Music Maker’s 25 years; stories written and drawn by Gary Dumm; and two never-before-published stories written by Harvey Pekar, the legendary creator of American Splendor and a jazz and blues aficionado. Tales of the Music Makers will be released by Z2 Comics as part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the non profit organization, and all profits from the book will go to the creators and The Music Maker Relief Foundation.
Tales of the Music Makers tells the stories of:
- Music Maker Foundation’s guiding light, blues great Guitar Gabriel, AKA “Razorblade.”
- Cora Mae Bryant, daughter of Georgia guitar legend Curley Weaver and friend of the great Blind Willie McTell.
- Piedmont-style fingerpicking guitar legend Etta Baker.
- Louisiana soul singer and Dan Auerbach collaborator Robert Finley.
- GRAMMY-winner, Blues Hall of Famer, and Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award winner Taj Mahal, who explains why he sits on the Music Maker advisory board.
- Mississippi gospel trio and Daptone Records group Como Mamas.
- Rhythm & blues and jazz pianist and vocalist and World War II veteran and former member of the Ink Spots Eddie Tigner, who still plays regularly in Atlanta.
- Adolphus Bell, known as the One-Man Blues Band.
- Willa Mae Buckner, a performer known as the snake lady who performed in an all-black tent show, stripping, singing bawdy songs, swallowing swords, and handling snakes.
The book notably includes two stories that Harvey Pekar wrote in 2003. They will be the first Pekar-written stories to be published since December 2010 when Marvel Comics published the last story he wrote, “Harvey Pekar Meets the Thing”, following the writer’s death earlier that year.
Music Maker founder, Tim Duffy explains how Pekar became involved in the project, following a conversation two decades ago.
I got a call from Harvey in 1998 because he was writing a story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about a tour we were on with Music Maker artists called the Winston Blues Revival. The interview went great and when the tour hit Cleveland I got to meet Harvey, we hung out and went to the Cleveland Art Museum and became good friends. Soon after, I asked him if he would write a comic for Music Maker since I had long been a fan. Harvey was a huge music head and loved Music Maker’s mission and would often clue me in on obscure musicians that he knew. His basement was full of tens of thousands of records and CDs – he loved music. Harvey was a huge fan of the underdog and the working class so creating the comics for Music Maker made a perfect sense to him. In a single page Harvey could capture the essence and complexity of these musician’s lives and he understood them because he loved the working class and was working class himself. To me, Harvey was the absolute greatest of underground comic storytellers of his generation – for his last comics to be about Music Maker artists Preston Fulp and Willa Mae Buckner still blows my mind to this day.
This publication of Tales of the Music Makers marks Music Maker Relief Foundation’s second collaboration with Z2 Comics.
The Tales of the Music Makers Soundtrack is included with the graphic novel, as a download, featuring:
1. Alabama Slim and Little Freddie King – The Mighty Flood
2. Adolphus Bell – Child Support Blues
3. Algia Mae Hinton – When You Kill the Chicken, Save Me The Head
4. Ben Payton – Singing About My Baby
5. George Higgs – Blues Is Here To Stay
6. Captain Luke – Old Black Buck
7. The Como Mamas – Thank Him Enough
8. Cool John Ferguson – Low Country Blues
9. Cootie Stark – Jigroo
10. Cora Mae Bryant – What Shall I Do
11. Dave McGrew – Just Another Rainbow
12. Dr. Burt – Girl, You The One For Me
13. Drink Small and Cootie Stark – Come Out of the Wilderness
14. Essie Mae Brooks – I Got So Much To Talk About
15. Guitar Gabriel – Mississippi Farm
Music Maker’s 25th anniversary will also see release of the book Blue Muse Timothy Duffy’s Southern Photographs (February 25 / UNC Press in conjunction with the New Orleans Museum of Art) and the compilation CD ‘Blue Muse’ February 1.
The Music Maker Relief Foundation provides resources to elderly, southern musicians living in poverty and keeps southern, musical culture alive by recording albums, arranging concerts and museum exhibitions, and publishing books. Music Maker presents these musical traditions to the world so American culture will flourish and be preserved for future generations.