The late Daniel Johnston, who passed away last September at the age of 58, was a brilliant artist with a troubled mind. He was also a lead candidate for least likely Supreme collaborator. And yet, perhaps because that’s exactly the sort of collaborator Supreme seeks out, he became one back in 2012, when he lent some of his signature drawings of Captain America to a capsule collection of t-shirts. Now Supreme is back with a bigger collection, featuring more images from the wild world of Johnston’s imagination on workwear, beanies, hoodies, et cetera.
Johnston is best known as the beloved cult musician who built a devoted following by hawking his amateurish tapes while working at an Austin McDonalds in the 80s. But he was as prolific an artist as he was a songwriter, illustrating constantly throughout his career. Together his music and artwork form an eclectic expanded universe, complete with superheroes, demons, and all kinds of strange creatures that now appear in Supreme’s next drop.
The most notable inclusion in the collection is Johnston’s famous frog, known to fans as “Jeremiah the Innocent.” Jeremiah first popped up on 1983’s “Hi How Are You?” tape, then became properly famous when Kurt Cobain, a vocal Johnston fan, wore a shirt featuring the image at the 1992 VMAs. Now you can get him on a flannel, except instead of asking how you are, Jeremiah says, “I Know Supreme.”
Johnston is a bit of an outlier among Supreme’s musical collaborations—on average, they’ve turned more often to punk and hip-hop collaborations than, say, lo-fi outsider artists. Exceptions abound, though, as their recent My Bloody Valentine capsule collection can attest. Who knows whether Cobain would have rocked anything from this collection. But Johnston, I think, would have been pleased by anything that spread his work to more people.