Earlier this week, we lost one of the most unique and inspiring artist of recent memory, Daniel Johnston. For those unfamiliar with his work, Johnston was a musician and visual artist whose innocence, honesty, and imagination produced some truly unique work. Johnston struggled with mental illness for most of his life, quite publicly, and had a series of physical ailments over the past few years that led to a decline in his health.
Along with the Beatles, one of the things that Johnston loved, was inspired by, and brought into his work was his love of comics. Captain America and Casper the Friendly Ghost, specifically, showed up all over his work, with Cap often times as a god-like figure for Johnston. Here is one of my favorite pieces of Johnston’s art:
And, for good measure, here is a tearjerking 2010 performance of Johnston’s “Life in Vain” with the Swell Season and the Conspirare Youth Choir.
Anyway, Johnston’s passing inspired us to look for other musicians who incorporated comic characters into their lyrics. This list could’ve been 100 entries long, but we picked some favorites. If we forgot an egregious one, let us know in the comments. On Monday, we’ll reveal which song got the most votes.
And, to learn more about Daniel Johnston, watch The Devil and Daniel Johnston, an incredible documentary about his life from 2005. See where you can watch it here.