Wait a minute. Am I really writing about a Grateful Dead record? Yes, I am. It’s tied to comics. I swear. Z2 Comics is releasing Grateful Dead Origins, a graphic novel written by Chris Miskiewicz and illustrated by Noah Van Sciver exploring the formation of the legendary rock band going back to the early days of Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Pigpen, Bill Kreutzmann, and Mickey Hart as they played as the bar band known as The Warlocks through the creation of their own sound and becoming the forefathers of the jamband culture. The book will be available in a limited collectors deluxe edition this June that comes with an exclusive vinyl LP of an unreleased recording from an August 1968 performance at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. The publisher revealed the cover art from artist Van Sciver along with the track listing which you can check out below.
Z2 Comics Publisher Josh Frankel says:
We can’t wait for everyone to see and hear the amazing Origins package and we hope it will provide some comfort to music and graphic novel fans alike during these challenging times. Our plan was always to time the release to the week of Record Store Day, giving comic shops and booksellers the ultimate music book for their customers. We will still do that, it will just happen in June now. I assure you, as this project has come together, it has turned into something even more special than we could have ever expected and we know comics readers, music archivists, and Dead Heads everywhere will agree that it was worth the wait.
The vinyl LP includes the first known West Coast live rendition of “St. Stephen” and the first known performance of its “William Tell Bridge” which would join the song to “The Eleven.” The show was recorded on an 8-track analog tape and mastered by engineer David Glasser at Airshow Mastering in Boulder, CO.
Grateful Dead audiovisual archivist and legacy manager David Lemieux added:
We’ve seen so many photos and videos of the Grateful Dead in the 1980s and beyond, and even quite a bit from the 1970s. The 1960s, though, largely remain a visual mystery in terms of the band, especially the earliest days, 1965 and 1966, but also through to 1969. Grateful Dead Origins brings the band’s beginnings to life, artistically, verbally, and musically. We’ve all seen some photos of the band onstage in those early days, and heard plenty of music from 1966 through 1969, but everything else, how they became the Grateful Dead, has been obscured from the history books only through lack of documentation. While Origins isn’t a discovery of primary archival documents from this era, it visually, creatively, and tastefully fills in the gaps that the historical record’s archive might have missed. We’re thrilled to have worked with such a talented team to write and illustrate this early part of the Dead’s story.
The Grateful Dead Origins deluxe edition is currently available for pre-order through the Z2 Comics website. In addition to the LP, it comes in a hardcover, oversized, individually-numbered coffee table edition of the book signed by the comic creators along with exclusive prints. It’s set for release on June 19th, 2020. A standard softcover edition featuring an exclusive download of rare selections from the early years of the band will be released the following week on June 23rd, 2020.
Mark Pinkus, President of Rhino Entertainment says:
Jerry Garcia was an avid comic book enthusiast so it is incredibly fitting to have the Grateful Dead’s origin story told in graphic novel form. Z2’s passion for the band’s music and mythology make them the perfect partner to bring the story to life. It has been inspiring to watch the novel’s artwork evolve over the last year and I’m excited that Dead Heads now get to have a preview. Just wait until you see the finished product!