Michael Avolio's sci-fi war story romance webcomic

Chuck Berry died over the weekend at the age of 90. He left behind not only some of the most iconic songs in rock 'n' roll, but a sonic basis for those who came up behind him. His simple directness and riff-centric guitarwork have been hugely influential.

It's interesting to think about Berry's career. In his early days, he almost single-handedly created the sound of early rock 'n' roll —  before The Beatles mashed it together with pop (for better or worse), before The Rolling Stones pulled out more of its blues influence, before Bob Dylan brought it all to full bloom. Without Berry's influence, we just wouldn't have a huge portion of popular culture. And yet, he was passed, relatively quickly, by those coming after him, and for much of the rest of his life he was all but ignored while those who followed him and built on the foundation he laid reaped more benefits than he did. Certainly, there was respect from those artists, and royalties from the Berry covers recorded by a legion of artists, but neither the public nor the record industry seemed to hold him the same esteem.

It's not uncommon for an artist who's there at the beginning of a movement or genre to be dwarfed in success and acclaim by those who innovate on top of the foundation laid by the former. He rose to prominence in the 1950s, and as with many blues artists, Berry benefited from rock acts (particularly those from the UK) covering his material in the '60s, but he kept playing and touring for decades after that. I guess it's not unusual for a music artist to only have a brief window of fame, whether cut short by death (Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin, Otis Redding, etc.) or simply age. Maybe it's unfair to compare every artist to the outliers like Dylan, Miles Davis, or David Bowie, who manage to reinvent themselves continually over the course of many decades. I don't know. I wonder how Berry felt about it all.

An idiosyncrasy I find fascinating is that Berry would tour by himself, having a different local band play behind him at each new venue. Bruce Springsteen relates a story about backing Berry in the 1970s — he and the band were at the venue, waiting for Berry to show up. The concert's start time approached, with no sign of Berry. They didn't have a setlist, nor had they practiced with or even met Berry. Finally, just a few minutes before showtime, in came Berry by himself, carrying his guitar. The band asked what songs they were going to play. Berry's reply was, "We're playing Chuck Berry songs!" Not many artists could pull that off and assume a band would know their material. But Berry could. That's not a bad legacy to leave.

It's too early for me to be thinking about my own legacy — I'm only just serializing my first graphic novel now. But you can someday say you were there at the beginning of my career in comics! 

I'm super busy and sleep deprived, but I'm hoping to finish and post more pages of my award winning comic Flesh Machine sometime after midnight tonight, so you can read new pages at (new readers should start from the beginning, as it's all one continuous story)... and you can support my comics work with a monthly pledge at Patreon!
Patreon is similar to Kickstarter, except that it's ongoing support for an artist as they work. Thanks to those of you who are already pledging — it means a lot to me, and every bit helps. We've passed my first goal of paying for my website costs, and we're on our way to meeting my next goal of paying for things like digital backups of my work and possibly marketing to reach more readers with my work.

The more money I make making comics, the more comics I can make, so your Patreon pledge makes a real difference.

Michael Avolio

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Flesh Machine:
Best Sci-Fi Romance Webcomic, 2016
- SFR Galaxy Awards

"The art in Flesh Machine is deceptively simple, with a hint of Mike Mignola influence, but this comic is one cool science fiction story for older readers. Once you start reading Flesh Machine, it is easy to get warped right into this mysterious and provocative universe."

- Farel Dalrymple
(Pop Gun War, NY Times bestseller The Wrenchies)

Copyright © 2017 Michael Avolio, All rights reserved.

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