The Devil You Say

Don’t you love how Netflix is becoming a verb? I Netflixed The Devil and Daniel Johnston this weekend. I think I chose it for my list because of the manic depression aspect, but I quickly learned that I can barely be in the same room with this guy’s music. As tempting as it may be to ascribe genius to that which seems complicated and hard to understand, there are instances where crazy is simply crazy. I thought this 2006 quote from the Boston Globe said it best:

Johnston’s career pries open the assumptions and hypocrisies that surround ”outsider art” in this country. His work has a disturbing found-object innocence, yet in his lucid moments he’s as ambitious as any working musician (and when he goes off the rails, his monomania is the dark side of rock-star excess). Johnston is a willing participant in his fame, but how much do his fans respond to the music and how much to his status as a hip train wreck? Where’s the line between exploitation (including self-exploitation) and admiration? If Daniel Johnston weren’t mentally ill, would anyone listen to his songs?

I’m going to have to raise my hand here and say, “Not I.” It’s essentially like listening to Bob Dylan describe a dream, only in your white-haired uncle with Aspergers lispsy voice. But I think you’ll really like his art:

You can draw other people’s characters without permission and sell that in a gallery? Truly, where has this revelation been all my life. Actually I highly recommend this documentary, it’s a head scratcher.

Author of Strawberry Shortcake: Return of the Purple Pie Man, Disney’s Frozen Comic Collection, Transformers: Robots in Disguise Animated and Littlest Pet Shop: Open for Business. She’s written for IDW Publishing, Hasbro, Lion Forge, American Greetings and Scholastic, and her work has been discussed in Comics Beat and The Washington Post. Subscribe to the newsletter

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