Liquid Comics, in cooperation with EPE, announced the release of the book ‘Graphic Elvis’ revealing Elvis Presley’s love of superheroes and comic books. For many, Elvis Presley was a true marvel. But what he really wanted to be was Captain Marvel. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s love of superheroes and comic books is explored in Graphic Elvis, a collaboration between Liquid Comics and Elvis Presley Enterprises. The illustrated book will feature examples of comics’ influence on Presley’s personal and professional lives, and it allows a new generation of artists to create works inspired by his music, his archives and his personal and public experiences. "Comics influenced so much of his life and made him a larger-than-life hero to so many people. It's paying homage to that on the 35th anniversary of his death (in 2012) and allowing today's generation of artists to do the same to him," says Sharad Devarajan, co-founder and CEO of Liquid Comics.
A 12-by-12-inch limited-edition version (2,500 copies, $195) will be available for the holiday season. A mass-market edition arrives in April, followed by an iPad edition tentatively scheduled for mid-2012.
Artists from all over the world have been commissioned for Graphic Elvis, from Japanese animé to Indian artists to famous comic illustrators such Paul Pope and Greg Horn. "It's about a global icon being celebrated by global artists," Devarajan says.
"It's exciting to see people who are this talented take Elvis and do their own spin on him to create something new," says Scott Williams, vice president of marketing for Elvis Presley Enterprises. Many of Presley's loves have been documented over the years — from his affinity for peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches to his passion for karate and hip-shaking. Graphic Elvis is the first project to fully explore his penchant for comics, which Al Wertheimer and others captured in photos that will appear in the new book. When he was named one of the Jaycees' Ten Outstanding Young Men in 1971, Presley told the crowd: "When I was a child, I was a dreamer. I read comic books and I was the hero of the comic book. … So every dream I ever dreamed has come true a hundred times."
Given access to the archives at Graceland, Devarajan was floored by the many reflections and summations on life Presley had jotted down in his books. "He was much more of a seeker than I gave him credit for. He was clearly a guy who loved to read, loved to think about the world and loved to understand his place in it."
Growing up in Memphis, Presley was a fan of Captain Marvel Jr. and the rest of the Marvel Family, and it showed in his hairstyle, his "TCB" lightning logo and his colorful 1970s concert jumpsuits with capes.
"They were very emblematic of classic costumes you'd see in comic-book creations," Devarajan says. Presley's fondness for comics has found its way into pop culture over the years. The King appeared in an issue of Neil Gaiman's Sandman comic series, and a trampoline routine in Cirque du Soleil's Viva ELVIS in Las Vegas was inspired by Elvis' love of flying superheroes who went up, up and away.
With Presley still influencing entertainment decades after his death, Williams is glad there's something like Graphic Elvis that offers a different take on the legacy. "We never say what we think Elvis would do or not do, but because he loved comic books, this is absolutely something he would like," Williams says. "He would get into this big-time."