DC Comics to publish new superhero art by the late Daniel Johnston

The acclaimed singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston passed away in September 2019. Aside from being a pioneer of "outsider music," Johnston was also a visual artist. The Contemporary Austin recently opened a new exhibit to posthumously celebrate Johnston's drawings, and to mark the occasion, DC Comics has announced that it will publish several variant covers featuring Johnston-drawn illustrations of Batman, Superman, and — perhaps most fittingly, given Johnston's oeuvre — Jack Kirby's New Gods.

Here are some details on the discovery of the drawings, from the press release:

The [Contemporary Austin] exhibition's curator, Robin K. Williams, noticed a letter Johnston had written in the 1990s or 2000s addressed to his friend Marie Javins, now Editor-in-Chief at DC, requesting her help getting his artwork into comics. "I thought the letter was strange and touching," says Williams, "because he was already an internationally successful musician when he wrote it. When I asked Marie about it, she said, 'Daniel had two loves, music and art, and always wanted to be a comic book artist.' This gave her the beautiful idea to finally make this happen."


Electric Lady Studios, which manages the Daniel Johnston art catalog on behalf of Johnston's surviving family, selected the images to be used for the variant covers. "This is a complete realization of one of Daniel's biggest dreams—to have his designs featured on a DC cover and sold in his favorite comic shop. It puts a lump in my throat," says Lee Foster, Electric Lady's managing partner.

The variant covers can be found on Batman #121, which will be published on March 1, 2022. There are naturally some other specific sales incentives that go along with specific shops and stuff because this is comics, and every variant cover is still technically a sales gimmick (he says, reluctantly ashamed of his cynicism).

Daniel Johnston Posthumously Covers DC

Daniel Johnston: I Live My Broken Dreams [The Contemporary Austin]