Tony Millionaire's Portraits of Musicians - Rolling Stone
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Tony Millionaire’s Portraits of Musicians

Cartoonist discusses his drawings of Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, David Byrne and more


© 2011 Tony Millionaire

Tony Millionaire is best known for his syndicated comic strip Maakies and his Dark Horse Comics series Sock Monkey, but over the years, he's made his living mainly as an illustrator drawing portraits for a variety of publications including The Believer, The New Yorker and The Wall Street Journal. His latest book, 500 Portraitspre-order it from Fantagraphics – collects the best images from this body of work, including drawings of literary figures, politicians, Hollywood stars and fictional characters. In this gallery featuring some of his best portraits of musicians, Millionaire discusses his subjects – including Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel and Lou Reed –and how their work inspired him, or in at least one case, changed the course of his life.

– Matthew Perpetua

bob dylan

© 2011 Tony Millionaire

Bob Dylan

"Bob Dylan has that sort of ghostly look, with the scraggly beard and his chin got pointier and pointier as he grew older. I would have loved to be assigned to draw him when he was younger because that'd be a beautiful drawing. The young Dylan looked like he was going to grow into the Dylan that he is now. His nose was getting kind of long and boney, but he has this cute puppy dog look to him. I think that's what girls loved about him, was that he had this look like,  'Oh he’s so cute, and nobody else thinks he's cute, only I think he's cute.'"

louis armstrong

© 2011 Tony Millionaire

Louis Armstrong

"Louis Armstrong is always funny to draw because he's always making such big goofy faces. People with exaggerated expressions like that are always kind of easy to draw.  That’s why it’s easier to draw men than it is to draw women. Because women, you’ve gotta draw them pretty, so you’ve gotta knock it off with the goofy faces, the exaggerated chins and noses and stuff, because that just makes them look ugly. But with a guy like Louis Armstrong, he has those big hard boiled egg eyeballs. You know, you just put that big smile on and draw the teeth and you have a good time."

brian eno

© 2011 Tony Millionaire

Brian Eno

"I'm surprised that Brain Eno looks like that. I had no idea. I pictured him as kind of a skinny nerd. I've always loved his music, but I always thought he had like a long goofy neck and a bony nose. The picture of him in here, he looks like Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now."

david byrne

© 2011 Tony Millionaire

David Byrne

"I've always loved David Byrne. When the Talking Heads started, that’s when music totally changed for me. I had been lost with music. I was cutting my hair shorter and shorter. I was like, 'I don't want to be a hippie anymore.' Music was just getting prettier and more refined – Crosby, Stills and Nash, and all that – and suddenly, it was wild again. And then the girls in the bars had big hair, and leather jackets and fishnet stockings. And I was like, 'Wow!' So then the Talking Heads came around and there was not only punk rock, but there was also art music – which, I felt like I could some how get more involved with it. The punk rock bouncing around and smashing in to each other thing wasn't my idea of a good time. But art music, forget about it, I loved it."

lou reed

© 2011 Tony Millionaire

Lou Reed

"I love that he has such a Frankenstein look about him. Humphrey Bogart was considered to be that ugly guy who was beautiful to women and Lou Reed has that same look. He’s got this Frankenstein look, with his weird drooping jaw. But he’s beautiful at the same time. And then when you dress him like a girl, forget about it. Then he really looks freaky."

art garfunkel

© 2011 Tony Millionaire

Art Garfunkel

"I liked something about Art Garfunkel's nose, his lips. He's kind of a pretty boy, though you don't think so now. But in those days he was. So when I drew him it just worked out perfectly and the drawing was, I thought, gorgeous. It was actually prettier than he actually even is. That's fine, because that’s what his voice sounds like."

paul simon

© 2011 Tony Millionaire

Paul Simon

"I drew Paul Simon about six times and I could not get him to look like he wasn't a mongoloid. There was something about him, every time I drew him, he looked more and more demented. He just looked really bad, he looked like a weird turtle. No matter how many times I drew him,  I couldn’t get him. I can't figure out what it is about some people I can’t get the likeness of them. This drawing is close enough that you know that it’s him, but it only looks like him if you put him next to Art Garfunkel."

billie holiday

© 2011 Tony Millionaire

Billie Holiday

"I loved drawing Billie Holiday. I just loved drawing her because I’d put on her music and listen to her and then—and just, when you put on Billie Holiday and everything's all right. There's also something about that big giant white flower she always had. Also, the guy who hired me, Mark Miller, to do these jazz maps, he kept saying, 'You know you're drawing her a lot more beautiful than she really was.'"

mark e smith

© 2011 Tony Millionaire

Mark E. Smith of the Fall

"Mark E. Smith, strangely, was a drawing that I did without knowing who he was. And then someone else said to me, 'Hey! You drew Mark E. Smith!' And I was like, 'Oh My God! That's the Fall?' I'd always loved the Fall, but I had no idea what he looked like. I thought he would have like really long black hair and black fingernails. I thought he would be totally, completely Goth. And then here's this guy who looks like he's the back up singer for the Pogues. I'm glad that I did it, because now I look at the drawing and it matches his voice."

lightin hopkins

© 2011 Tony Millionaire

Lightnin’ Hopkins

"I wish I knew who the photographer was, cause that was a beautiful photograph of Lightnin' Hopkins. I just love drawing sunglasses. Cause with sunglasses, you can kinda see behind them, you can kinda see the eyes behind them. You don't just draw, put, a pair of sunglasses on top of something. You've really got to work the sunglasses into the portrait and I really loved the way that one worked out."

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