For the last 40-odd years, artist Tom Foster has sketched courtroom trials, painted artwork for movie and theater sets, and designed flyers and album art for bands ranging from Big Star to the North Mississippi Allstars. Today, he's the author of more than a dozen self-published monographs and comic books, including The Waltzing Senator, aka Strawberry Funnies Special No. 2. (For more, turn to page 35.) This Thursday, September 13th, at 5 p.m., Foster will be signing copies of the runaway bestseller, a detailed recap of local politics, at Burke's Book Store in Cooper-Young. — by Andria Lisle
Flyer: As a courtroom artist, what's the most interesting case you've covered?
Foster: I drew the Dr. Nichopoulos trial, where he was busted [for over-prescribing medication for] Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. Jerry Lee's pharmacist had accepted a 'script for 10 Dilaudid, where Jerry Lee had taken a pen and written a comma and a couple of zeros after it.
What inspired you to cover the Ford trial?
Politicians with developers' hands in their pockets aren't helping people at the neighborhood level. The closest thing I've done to this is the "Save Overton Park" campaign from the underground newspaper days, when it took the hippies and the neighborhood people to get involved, which actually worked. This book is the first of a trilogy — I still don't know what the outcome is going to be. Everywhere I go people are talking about this trial, Libertyland, or their MLGW bill.
Does the media attention you've gotten for The Waltzing Senator surprise you?
When I went to school at the Art Academy [now Memphis College of Art] in the late '70s, people made fun of me when I told them I wanted to draw comic books. Today, Burke's told me I'm their best-selling author! Tamara [Mitchell] Ford called and ordered several copies right before she got arrested for her latest DUI. I was worried the police were gonna find the book in her car [laughs], like maybe that's what drove her to drink!