Sep 11 2010

Jonah Hex and Rory Gallagher — Six Degrees of Separation

Published by at 7:44 am under Rory mentions

I was watching the particularly dreadful movie “Jonah Hex” the other day, one of those comic book adaptation movies that crop up now and then whenever there’s a writer’s strike or a director wants to stroke his inner child and regurgitate some old comic book hero he remembers from his youth. I don’t mean to denigrate the actual comic book, or graphic novel as the edgier comics are called now. It is just difficult to translate one form of visual media into another. It can be done, but it takes a lot of talented writing to advance a storyline that by design is visually fantastical, and compositionally condensed. In this instance the writers failed miserably, despite have a decent cast with Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, and Megan Fox. There is, however, a connection between Jonah Hex and Rory Gallagher. Can anyone think of it? No, it has nothing to do with Megan Fox. Good try though!

Jonah Hex, illustrated
by Timothy Truman

The comic book, Jonah Hex, has a bit of a rock ‘n roll history. Back in 1995, the comic made a splash in the newspapers when the Winter brothers, Edgar and Johnny, sued D.C. comics, the publishers of the Jonah Hex series, for appropriation of their names and likenesses, alleging that the comics falsely portrayed them as “vile, depraved, stupid, cowardly, subhuman individuals who engage in wanton acts of violence, murder and bestiality for pleasure and who should be killed.” Well, we are talking comic books here! D.C comics had revamped old Jonah Hex with the help of new writer Joe R. Lansdale and illustrator Timothy Truman, and in the episode titled Jonah Hex: Riders of the Worm and Such Jonah battled two brothers who were half-human, half-worm creatures with green tentacles sprouting from their chests. The two brother’s names where Johnny and Edgar Autumn. The Winter brothers were not amused and took them to court. It took almost 8 years, but eventually the Supreme Court of California ruled in D.C comics favor. The irony of it all was that the inclusion of the brothers in the comic was an attempt by Lansdale and Truman to honor the Blues playing twosome albeit in a backhanded way. This is not the first time a Blues musician has been included in a comic book illustrated by Timothy Truman.

Timothy Truman

Jonah Hex illustrator, Timothy Truman “started working in comics in the mid-1980’s, becoming one of the mainstays of the so-called ‘independent’ comics movement.” His first series was the title GrimJack, with writer John Ostrander, for independent comics company, First Comics. Grimjack became one of the most popular characters of the 80’s and early 90’s. In the November 1984 issue, titled “Legacy”, Grimjack is hired to protect a singer-guitar player named Jim Lanyon, after he is grazed by a would be assassin’s bullet during preparations for a comeback concert. On the front cover of the comic book, on the wall behind GrimJack, is an advertisement poster for rock star, Jim Lanyon’s sold out concert, and the resemblance to a certain chequered-shirt Irish wizard is undeniable.

Issue #4 Grimjack

p.2, Grimjack #4

Timothy Truman is not only an excellent comic book illustrator and writer, he is also a musician and a music fan, and on more than one occasion he has been able to dovetail his musical interests with his illustrating and writing responsibilities. As previously mentioned, he’s included Edgar and Johnny Winter in a episode of Jonah Hex, and while working on the comic book “Scout” for Eclipse comics, Truman named its main character, Emanuel Santana in honor of one of Truman’s guitar heroes, Carlos Santana. (He also included a “Flexi” disc recording inside issue #19 of the comic book title, Scout, that provided a soundtrack to one of the scenes in the comic book.) And in issue #4 of Grimjack, Truman was able to include numerous images of his favorite guitarist and performer, Rory Gallagher. On page 15, Truman leaves no doubt who the singer-guitar player is suppose to resemble. Check out the headstock of his guitar!

Issue #4 Grimjack, p.15
p.15, Grimjack #4

Rory is my favorite guitarist and performer. Meeting him backstage at the Bottom Line in 1979 was one of my fondest memories. What a nice guy! We saw the second show that night. For years I’ve searched for a clean boot of the first show, which was broadcast on the radio. I remember listening to the broadcast while driving to the venue to see the second show! I also got to see Rory live at the Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium in Columbus Ohio in 1974. Amazing Show! There were only about 100 or so people in the hall but Rory played his ass off. — Timothy Truman

digital art by Timothy Truman

  Timothy Truman is not just a comic book writer/illustrator. He has done CD cover art, limited edition t-shirts, poster artwork, and comic book pages for the Grateful Dead as well as doing all the artwork for the Grateful Dead’s “Dead-opoly” game. He has also done the cover illustration for the 1999 Hot Tuna Live CD, “Furthermore”, and the artwork for Grammy award winning singer-songwriter, Jim Lauderdale’s CD’s: ‘Heading for the Hills,’ ‘Patchwork River’, and ‘Honeysongs’. Like many Rory Gallagher fans, Truman has his own personal collection of live bootleg recordings of the Irish bluesman. The image to the left is the digital artwork for his own personal, “Best of Rory Gallagher: Acoustic” CD!

So there you have the connection between Rory Gallagher and Jonah Hex — in less than “6 degrees of separation.” And since this has been a comic art themed blog post, I’ll end with another Rory Gallagher related artwork. The ink drawings below were done by artist Pascal Mania, published in the October 1995 issue of the Parisian comic fanzine, Le Goinfre, just a few months after Rory’s passing.

artwork by Mania artwork by Mania artwork by Mania
artwork by Mania
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3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Jonah Hex and Rory Gallagher — Six Degrees of Separation”

  1. Blankon 17 Dec 2011 at 12:49 am

    Where did you find the artwork by mania ?? Is there a high res copy ?

  2. miloon 19 Dec 2011 at 10:31 am

    Sorry, don’t have a high res copy. The artwork was found in Coghe’s biography of Rory.

  3. […] Timothy Truman’s involvement came down to you actually! I read your interview with him on and saw his drawings of Rory from his Grimjack comic. I’d showed the interview to my Dad and when […]

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