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Name: Adam Bernard
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Illus - Drawing Support
Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Haven’s Illus has two distinct fan bases. He has his hip-hop fan base that knows him from his work as an emcee, including the EP he released earlier this year titled Feel Good Music, and he has his comic book fan base, which has enjoyed his work as an illustrator, and seen him speak about the topic at various Comic-Cons, as well as CMJ and NYU. Illus is hoping he can bring both of these fan bases together in support of his latest project which, thanks to some ingenuity on Illus’ part, incorporates both worlds.

The project is a new album titled For Adam, but for those who are early supporters of it, and help to fund the project, Illus is writing and illustrating a special limited edition comic book. “I wanted to give the people that support a special treat that no one else can get,” he explains. “If they contribute more I’m actually giving out original pages from that comic book.”

Through his self-publishing company, American Mule Entertainment, Illus has published every kind of comic over the years, from superhero, to horror, to humor, to non-fiction, as both standard comics and graphic novels. His last major project was a series he did with hip-hop legends Public Enemy. The special limited edition comic he’s offering to supporters will feature stories that relate directly to Illus’ experiences in the music industry, as well as introductions to new properties he’s created that he’ll be publishing as graphic novels in 2011.

When Illus speaks about creating the comic for supporters, he’s talking about those who lend support of the financial variety. This is because Illus started a Kickstarter.com webpage for For Adam. What Kickstarter does is allow artists, or any creative people, to ask for funding for a project in return for specialty items the artist offers up. According to Illus, “being an independent artist, and not signed to a major label, I don’t have to anyone to answer to except myself. Basically the fans and the people who listen to my music are my boss, as well as the people who read my comics, and I wanted to get them involved in the whole creative process.” He notes that paying something upfront creates that involvement. “If they make a pledge they get the CD, but it’s also helping out with me paying for the studio fees, and production costs, and mastering, and pressing up the CDs, so they’re actively involved in it.”

Illus, who’s Kickstarter campaign lasts through January 7th, is also offering up a lot more than just an album. Not only does he have the limited edition comic book for people who want to donate a little extra, but for folks who want even more unique Illus artwork he’s also designing skateboard decks, sneakers, t-shirts, and other forms of original artwork for different increments of donations. For a $3,000 donation he’ll even invite the donor into the studio and write and record a track especially for them. Illus admits “it’s highly unlikely anybody’s gonna be able to afford it, but I thought if there’s any really wealthy Illus fans out there that want a song I could basically serenade them in the studio.”

The goal for Illus is $7,500, which he knows is a lot during a recession. “I completely understand that aspect of it,” he says, “but also people do tend to justify spending money on other things and then they forget the value of music at the same time. Hopefully with something like this they can see where the money goes to, how it’s spent, and that it’s not just some guy in his room recording music on a computer, there’s actually a whole process to it.”

Currently about halfway done with that process, For Adam is an album that features a topic that’s weighed heavily on Illus for quite a while, like since he was seven years old. It’s why the album is titled For Adam. “It’s not an egotistical thing,” Illus, who’s government name is Adam, states, “the opening song goes back to 1981, which was kind of an awakening for me as a child because that’s the year that Adam Walsh (son of America’s Most Wanted creator John Walsh) was murdered. I remembered that because I was the same age as him, I was seven years old, and I happened to be down in Florida, where it happened, and it was the first time I had seen the news and actually been aware, or awakened to the fact, of how evil people can be.” Illus knows he may be dating himself by talking about something that happened nearly 30 years ago, but he says “it still plays a big part in my heart and it was very important for me to do that.”

Illus also felt it was very important to make an album that was about everyday people. “I really wanted it not to be an album about a rapper rapping to other rappers,” he explains, “I didn’t want to come out saying I’m the best and all the bragging raps. I wanted to focus on stories that people could connect with universally.”

For Adam will feature a handful of guests, including Homeboy Sandman and Gift of Gab, and, like Feel Good Music, the album will be produced entirely by J.J. Brown.

Illus hopes the combination of hip-hop fans and comic book fans who’ve connected with his work can help support him in this endeavor. He adds that if anyone has any doubts about his authenticity in looking for funding, “they should see my sneakers. I got these New Balances in 2004.”

If all goes well, fans will be able to say they got a new Illus album, and perhaps some original artwork, in 2011.

Story originally ran in the FairfieldWeekly.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:49 AM  
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