A good cartoonist isn’t a fan of drawing obituary cartoons. Sometimes a figure is so big you have to. And rarely, but it happens, a figure was so influential that you want to. I wanted to draw something for Prince.
Before the first crying doves cartoon was published (there’s at least two by this point), not only professional cartoonists, but readers were mocking the idea on social media. There’s gonna be a lot of Purple Rains too. I always liked the way “Let’s Go Crazy” ended with Prince shouting “take me away” that I thought it was fitting.
I think it was Prince’s fifth album where I discovered him. He was finally on the radio in the deep south and “Little Red Corvette” and “1999” were all over the radio. I was 17 and 1999 seemed so far away to the point I didn’t really think about it actually arriving. When you’re young you don’t think about the future. You don’t think about dying at 57.
Then “Purple Rain” came out and I remember it battling with Springsteen’s “Born In The USA” for radio time and a place on the charts.
Prince owned everything. He was effeminate but still cool. He could play every instrument. He created other artists. He changed his style. He changed his music. He didn’t fit into a category. He wasn’t just rock, R&B, soul, jazz. He was Prince. When Michael Jackson was safe, Prince was dangerous. Prince sang about sex a lot in the 1980’s. He was graphic. He changed his name into a symbol. He blurred lines between male and female, black and white, rock and roll.
When his next album came out after “Purple Rain,” the album “Around The World In A Day,” I thought it was crap. It was so different from his past two albums (and movie). Then I listened to it some more and fell in love with “Pop Life” and “Raspberry Beret.” He continued to make great music over the years. He blew my mind with his guitar playing at the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame when he played with other greats on George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” He was amazing during his Super Bowl performance, especially when he covered the Foo Fighter’s “Best Of You.” Many felt his covering of the Foos was a slap at them for their covering “Darling Nikki.” I don’t think so. The way he played it, on the biggest stage in the world, was a huge compliment. If that’s a dig then it’s going about it the wrong way.
From Vanity 6 to Sheila E., to Sheena Easton, Prince helped other artists, specifically females. The Bangles and Sinead O’Connor had great hits because of Prince.
Usually with a great artist, I can’t pick a favorite song. I usually like too many of them. But I have one with Prince and that’s the very simple and poppy “Take Me With U.” Prince had a thing about using just a letter for an entire word.
Prince also battled his record label so he could control his own work. I can relate to that as I left a major American syndicate so I can control my own work. Fortunately I didn’t have to battle or write “slave” on my face to get what I wanted.
Prince was a genius. Many say he was underrated but I don’t buy that. I think everyone accepts it universally that the man was a genius. I hope my cartoon is creative enough for him. No freaking crying doves.
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