A statement from our founder, Ken Johnson.
A part of me died on 21 April 2016.
Prince Rogers Nelson was the catalyst for me to get going in this world doing what I love. From the time I first heard his music in the back of my mom’s car, straining to hear Soft and Wet faintly playing through the car speakers, I understood at that moment I was hearing something really special. I was around 8 years old at the time. I heard that song in my head for days. When his self-titled album came out the following year, I discovered it at my neighbor’s house. My friend’s aunt was a fan and had a huge crush on him. I started to take more notice of him and began to open my ears to different styles of music.
I didn’t hear much from Dirty Mind when it came out but I heard about his concerts and the controversy around him. One of my cousins was going on about him having a brass bed on stage and him simulating sex acts. I was intrigued and picked up on a person who was fearless. I started to become fearless with my own work. I didn’t listen to what people said about not making it. At least I didn’t then. I went for it.
I wanted to make comics and own my work. I didn’t really want to sell what I created to the big leagues for them to own and to just give me a creators credit without proper commercial payment and ongoing creative say so. Most companies don’t go for that and see the creator as being in the way rather than as the father of the child.
My parents split up when I was really young. My father wasn’t around. My mom did her best to raise me and my brother. She did a good job. My grandma Toots was the funniest person I knew. I admire people who can make others laugh and take notice. Prince did that, too. I loved Purple Rain, but enjoyed Under The Cherry Moon even more. I laughed like crazy. A lot of people wanted Purple Rain 2 and didn’t give it a chance. To this day, many people still hang on to his Purple Rain era. I moved on with him creatively. Each new year brought a new album, a new look, an updated persona, but he also evolved as a person. His relationship with GOD was inspiring and blending it with sexuality was genius.
I listened to Sign ‘O’ The Times over and over. One of my classmates had just bought the tape. My marching band and I were on a trip to Carolina Beach in the spring of 1987. A couple of classmates had heard the album and were singing Housequake, Hot Thing and It. My classmate lent me his copy of the tape for me to hear. I hadn’t heard it before the trip. I put my headphones on and pressed play. I didn’t sleep for 3 days. I listened to it over and over again. It became the soundtrack for my life.
I worked at a plastics plant over the summer of 1987. When I got my paychecks, I started to look for and buy Prince’s earlier work and the singles with the b-sides. I bought cassettes and albums. I bought memorabilia if I could find it. My art shifted more. I pushed myself to be better.
Lovesexy was my hangover album. I got so drunk the night before over a dare. I caused so much damage that it took me years to forgive myself. I passed out in a co-workers house and woke up in my mom’s house. I felt terrible. My mom told me what happened. My little brother came into my room and looked at me. We talked for a bit then he left to go back to his room. I popped Lovesexy into my cassette deck and started listening. Then, I started hearing it. My perspective shifted again.
Life took over and I still wanted to pursue my dream of having my own comic production house. And be able to mentor young talent, too. Prince played a huge part in the push for me to get going. We never met. But his energy came through his music which then went into me. I even had a few bands and we were tight. I even sent one of our CDs to Prince to get his input. I didn’t know if he would actually respond, but he did. He said it was good and to keep it up. That put a smile on my face.
I watched him perform 7 times. I brought people with me for 6 of those times. The last time I saw him was in London in 2014 at Shepards Bush Empire. I arrived at the venue by myself, waiting in the cold with hundreds of others, hoping to get in. Then, I met some people and we started talking about all things Prince. We heard a rumor that Prince may lower the price from £70 to £10. When the news broke, we shouted. Then, we walked in. As soon as the first lines of Lets Go Crazy started, the room changed and it was filled with electricity. Prince could do that. His live shows were breathtaking. When he was dancing more, he was all over the place. Over time, the focus went more to the musicianship and less on the incredible dance moves he could do. It didn’t matter. It was still Prince. I saw him with the NPG and 3rdEyeGirl. I missed seeing him with The Revolution.
Prince left us unexpectedly and way too soon. There isn’t anyone else like him. And that’s the way it needs to be. Be inspired by him and other great artists who are contributing positively to humankind. Take away what you will, but be yourself.
Even after his passing, he is still inspiring me, but in different ways. I want to inspire my team to go beyond themselves and to take chances with our work. I know we don’t put out work as often as most comic companies do. Sorry for that.
What I can say is that I am coming out of the purple ether and feeling inspired to do more. I haven’t shown Velica at a convention since 2010. We will be back out there very soon.
When a part of you dies, another part comes to life. It happens to help compensate for the loss.
I miss u, Prince. You’re throwing concerts in the next dimension. I’ll be attending them when it’s my time. And maybe we can play some basketball, too. I’m getting my game right for you.
I often dream of heaven and I know that Prince is there.
I hope that he has found another friend. Maybe he has the answer for all the April snow. Maybe one day I’ll see Prince again.
Sometimes it snows in April. Sometimes I feel so bad. Sometimes I wish that life was never ending.
But all good things, they say, never last.