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Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,390 ratings  ·  202 reviews
The first and only illustrated biography of "The Man in Black", Johnny Cash, the most famous country singer of all time

Cash was a 17-time Grammy winner who sold more than 90 million albums in his lifetime and became an icon of American music in the 20th century. Graphic novelist Reinhard Kleist depicts Johnny Cash’s eventful life from his early sessions with Elvis Presley
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Harry N. Abrams (first published 2006)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,390 ratings  ·  202 reviews

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Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Who would have thought a German storyteller could write and illustrate a damn good biography of an American icon? Kleist does do some cherry picking as this isn't quite as in-depth as a traditional prose biography, but he portrays Cash worts and all. He does some interesting things such as illustrate Cash's songs as he performs them, putting the lyrics to images. I think my favorite part of the book was when Johnny went to Folsom state prison. That's just such a damn cool story. So put on some J ...more
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Whenever I hear Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire it brings to mind a particular family road trip. My eldest son introduced me to Cash's music and I had heard something of his life before deciding to read this book. When it arrived on hold for me at the Library and I saw it was black and white I wondered if the lack of color would reduce my enjoyment.

However, I needn't have worried, I quickly became absorbed in the story and could hardly put it down! The story is compelling and the artwork is wonderfu
Lars Guthrie
Jun 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Halfway into Reinhard Kleist's excellent graphic novel, he has Glen Sherley, the Folsom Prison inmate who wrote "Greystone Chapel" for Johnny Cash, telling another convict that he reads all the stories on Cash he can find. Sherley is trying "to get an idea of the man, get to know him."

"Now and then," Sherley says, "you gotta read 'tween the lines to get the real story. In the end it's the stories that remain, not the facts. An' stories have gotta be told."

Not that Kleist is inaccurate, but his b
David Schaafsma
Oct 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gn-music, music, gn-bio
Kleist is German, and Cash is this icon of American culture, so I was skeptical an "outsider" could do this well, for some reason, but he does a fine job in this multiple-award-winning book, which doesn't clean up Cash's multiple early career drug and alcohol and infidelity problems, that's in fact the focus of the book, and one central event every Cash fan knows about: the visit to Folsom Prison, which was important in Cash's life and career, and Kleist highlights it as so. There are some notab ...more
Nicola Mansfield
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
A well-written biography of Cash starting with his childhood and ending with him in a studio in the woods recording his last album. Concentrates on the Folsom Prison concert as the pinnacle of the realisation of his dreams and tells a side story of Glen Sherley the man in Folsom who sent a song to Johnny. The book tells the story we're all pretty familiar with since the movie with Joaquin Phoenix but Cash's character is examined from various viewpoints including both his wives and various perfor ...more
Emily (Falling for YA)
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library
I'm gonna level with you, before reading this graphic novel I knew nothing about Johnny Cash's life story. I'd casually listened to his music but that was about it. I almost wish I hadn't read this, because Johnny Cash was just the worst. He's got almost no redeeming qualities. I'm meant to feel sorry for this guy but he treats everyone around him like crap. And they are all supposed to forgive him because he's talented? No. Just no.

Overall, the art was well done but the story was lackluster. I
Nov 03, 2009 rated it liked it
I'm not entirely sure which audience Kleist aims for in his Johnny Cash, but it seems to bounce all over the place. At one moment, it's mainstream (even kiddie)-friendly (a la 'Walk the Line' -- the book even begins at Folsom prison) and the next it's delving into Cash's disturbing song psyche. It makes the book uneven. The song illustrations are amazing, though, putting Cash's face to most of the song characters' faces, so when a man gets shot in Reno, it's Cash doin' the shootin'.
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Great biography in graphic novel format. Loved reading this. The author focuses on a part of the Cash story, and does a good job of it. It's not as detailed as a traditional "written" biography would be. But, this is a good, quick, overview of his life and some of his struggles. I'd recommend readers check out the song list in the back before reading the book. Make a Spotify or iTunes playlist of the songs and be a little familiar with them. They are featured in the book, one way or another.
Jan 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics, library
The star review is all for the gorgeous, imaginative black & white art, which is great both when illustrating scenes from Cash's life and, especially, the dreamlike sequences that illustrate some of Cash's great songs.

The writing is relatively pedestrian, although honestly, Johnny Cash's life was interesting enough that it's engaging all on its own.
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I know nothing about Johnny Cash except a few of his songs so when I saw this graphic novel at the library I thought I would pick it up. I learned a great deal about Johnny or J.R. as he was known as a young child and it wasn’t dry reading. When I finished reading this graphic novel, I had to wonder what kind of life Johnny could have lived, had he not lead such a dangerous lifestyle? I guess we see this a lot with famous individuals who decide to take the path with drugs and alcohol but reading ...more
Oct 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Originally published about a year after the Oscar-winning biopic "Walk the Line," Reinhard Kleist's "I See A Darkness" presents a beautifully illustrated (if mediocrely written) version of Johnny Cash's tortured and turbulent life. Kleist's narrative often feels hurried; but the reader will tend to forgive this simply because Cash is such a captivating figure and Kleist brings him vividly to life with ink drawings that are at once hard-edged and fluid, a perfect fit for a divided soul and The Ma ...more
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
Masterfully told story! I always loved Cash's music and this graphic novel had managed to reveal the full depths of it. I have never doubted that Johnny Cash lived an eventful life and had a crazy career, but this story tells you so much more... the depresion, the ambition, the lonelines, the resignation, the stubbornness, the mission, the ressurection... And full of emotions. I liked how his songs are incorporated into the novel as "comic book" cutscenes usually staring Cash in roles of the son ...more
Jennifer Spiegel
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well, I loved it. Johnny Cash is pretty much an important figure in the life of my family, for multiple reasons. I went so far as to name the male protagonist after Johnny, naming him "Cash."

I thought this book did a great job in actually creating a graphic experience of the life of that GREAT MAN!
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graficos
I didn't know much about Johnny Cash's life and found this graphic novel to be a fantastic way to get to know the basics, and a bit more, of the convoluted and complex life of a talented artist. We go all the way, from Cash's poor beginnings, to his death. The book makes pauses, seemingly randomly, to illustrate some of the greatest hits: A boy named Sue, Folsom Prison Blues, Cocaine Blues, etc. The best part there is that the author uses Cash as the protagonist of the songs. He's the one killin ...more
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Almost as good as the soundtrack.
Kris Patrick
Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's helpful if you have some background knowledge going into the book... Million Dollar Quartet, Walk the Line, Ken Burns doc, visit to Country Music Hall of Fame. Kleist is clearly a super fan.
Mar 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Part of me sees projects like these as a money-grabbing scheme. God knows, when Cash is in question (see the bad pun here?) there had been bunch of them rearing their heads in recent years. Then again, part of me allows for a genuine interest in the topic. Who can tell, Kleist might just be the guy who felt the need to tell the story of Johnny Cash in the medium he is familiar with. Which of these two possibilities is at work here I have no way of knowing. Come to think of it, I shouldn't even c ...more
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Do you enjoy a good biography? A good graphic novel? Are you a hardcore country music fan?
Then this is a book for you! Johnny Cash I See a Darkness, written by Reinhard Kleist, is an intriguing look into the life of the country music legend Johnny Cash. It shows the true life of celebrities and not just all the glam and show. This book takes a look into Johnny Cashes drug addictions, his many outbursts and especially his famous performance at the folsom prison and most importantly how he came
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Although this biography of Johnny Cash is divided into three sections of years in Cash's life, the graphic novel jumps in time. These jumps can be a bit confusing at times, but, by the end, I was able to put it all together. One of the really neat things Kleist did was to sometimes do a story within a story, where he would go into the plot of the songs for a couple of pages. I thought that was really unique and clever.

Certainly this graphic novel leaves a lot out, but I think Kleist did a great
Angie Cain
Sep 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love country music he is one of my favorites
Mar 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A great combination of story and art work-this graphic novel shows what the format should be. Beginning with his impoverishied childhood in rural Arkansas and continuing through his often tumultuous and very American life the episodes portrayed are introduced by graphic stories based on some of his famous songs. One of the longer segments focused on the famous Folsom prison concert. Moving and memorable, you don't have to be a Johnny Cash fan to love this one!
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My favorite part of this is that the story is interspersed with amazing graphic interpretations of Johnny Cash's most famous songs that are relevant to that part of the story. Kleist won two awards for this work, and rightfully so. Fans of Cash, like myself, will enjoy this depiction of him and his music.
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Especially liked the way songs are secretly interwoven with the story.

Also amazed by the artwork. He did something with shadows in black and white that it seems faces are lit up! Good book. Sad story. A legend in music
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great art, great subject, great story. Read this as a follow up to Kleist’s Nick Cave book and wasn’t disappointed.
Matt Graupman
Jan 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Biographies are tough because it’s virtually impossible to condense a person’s whole life into a few hundred pages in a book or a couple of hours in a movie. By necessity, you’re forced to cherry-pick just a handful of events from their life and that inevitably means that some things are gonna be left out. Anyone who’s watched the film “Walk The Line,” the Hollywood biography about Johnny Cash starring Joaquin Phoenix, would probably assume they know all there is to know about the famous - and i ...more
Ben Truong
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness is a biographical graphic novel written and illustrated by Reinhard Kleist, it cursory traces the life of Johnny Cash from childhood to his American Recording sessions.

John R. "Johnny" Cash was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 90 million records worldwide. His genre-spanning songs and sound embraced country, rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, folk, and gospel. T
Kinzie West
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Johnny Cash I See A Darkness by Reinhard Kleist is about a man who worked hard enough to go from nothing to something. He first moves in to a farm home after coming from a beat up house. Then he gets a band together. Finally he starts taking to many pills and decides to get some help and keep going with his singing career. On his journey throughout fame he figures out the hardship and work that it takes to do what you love.
This book was really intriguing. It goes up and down through happy and sa
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Johnny Cash: I See A Darkness is a biography written as a graphic novel by, Reinhard Kleist. In the book it tells readers the story of Johnny Cash’s career. It shows him as a child living and working on his family's farm with his siblings. Then it shows him at the very start, and eventually, him at the peak of his career. Also the book does not shy away from the negative aspects of Jonny’s career, such as his addiction, as well as his arrests.

One thing I enjoyed about the book was the fact that
Liam Proven
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An unusual choice for me. I stayed in the author's flat in Berlin just after new year, for complicated reasons, and saw his sketches and some samples of his work. Intrigued, I bought a couple of his books translated into English.

This is an atypical sort of graphic "novel", being a partial biography. Not the usual medium for this sort of book, or message for this sort of medium, but it works.

It's vivid, passionate, vigorous. The translation is spotless, the art is powerful without being irritati
William Schram
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Johnny Cash I See A Darkness is a Graphic Novel written and probably drawn by Reinhard Kleist. The book is really well done, spinning a tale from Cash’s life and songs. Sometimes it goes and covers his famous hits with a story or two from those, other times it goes and discusses actual events from Cash’s path to stardom and everything.

While I am a fan of Cash’s music, I don’t know everything about The Man In Black himself. So I am assuming that this was a really good adaptation and just leave it
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #110 Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness by Reinhard Kleist 1 1 Oct 17, 2014 04:53AM  

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Born in 1970 near Cologne.

After school he had an internship at printing and publishing Landpress in Weilerswist Studium at the College of Visual Arts in Münster. There the albums "Lovecraft", "Dorian" and "adventure of a switchman" were created.

After graduation in 1996 he moved to Berlin.
where he worked in a studio. For some years he did workshops, lectures and exhibitions in countries like Mexico

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