Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Artist's Cover Story One for the Records

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Artist's Cover Story One for the Records

Article excerpt

LANCASTER, Pa.-- Tim Truman grew up in West Virginia, his teenage years straddling the 1960s and '70s.

Though San Francisco, with its vibrant art and music scene, was thousands of miles away, its sights and sounds seeped into Truman's home in Gauley Bridge.

He became a fan of the city's famous bands, especially Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna, the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service. And he became a fan of the city's artists, who drew the bands' elaborate album covers and the psychedelic posters that advertised their gigs.

Mr. Truman, 56, can vividly recall getting his hands on Hot Tuna's second album.

"I just remember lying in my bed when I was 16 and looking at that 'First Pull Up, Then Pull Down' album cover and going, 'Man, this is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. I hope I get to do a Hot Tuna album cover' -- never dreaming I would ever be able to."

Mr. Truman, who lives in Manheim, Lancaster County, with his wife, Beth (they have two grown children), did fulfill that dream: It is his painting of a guitar-playing tuna that adorns the cover of Hot Tuna's 1999 album "And Furthermore ... "

An accomplished artist, he is famous for his comic books, including "Grimjack," "Jonah Hex" and "Scout," and his work designing album covers, posters, comics and T-shirts for musicians.

In particular, he has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the Grateful Dead that started in the early 1990s when Mr. Truman learned that a publisher was launching Grateful Dead Comix. He expressed an interest in contributing.

The publisher told him to send a portfolio but called back a short time later and told him it wouldn't be necessary: Jerry Garcia, the band's late lead guitarist and singer, was familiar with his work and counted himself a fan.

Using that as a springboard, Mr. Truman went on to become friends with Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, who had him design a poster for one of his shows. That led to later work with the Grateful Dead Almanac and album covers, including the fanciful cow that graces "Live at the Cow Palace, New Year's Eve 1976," which was released by Rhino Records in 2007.

And Rhino tapped Mr. Truman last summer to use his graphite-and- watercolor technique to draw the four album covers for this year's archival releases of the "Dave's Picks" series of shows.

"When we talked about finding an artist for 2013," says Mark Pinkus, the general manager of Grateful Dead Properties for Rhino, "I loved the idea of working with Tim Truman, an artist who clearly got the band, clearly came at it with a unique angle and a unique way that he creates his art.

"I'm confident that our releases in 2013 will be every bit as amazing as previous ones." The first four in the series were released in 2012.

Rhino released the first of the albums Friday (the other three will be released in three-month intervals) and it is available online at dead. …

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