[UPDATE: read Part 2 – featuring images of low-top model]
So, I finally created a Flickr account for Monster Fresh. I have a backlog of concert photography and extra shots that never even make it on to the site. Since I’m new to the Flickr game, I decided to knock around the site to see exactly what it had to offer and what else I could find in the photo sets of other users. I typed “Daniel Johnston” into a search and was surprised to find a photo pop up that was titled, “Extremely Rare Daniel Johnston Converse“. I knew about the, somewhat tentative, plans for the collaboration, but I never knew if I would actually see the final product come to fruition.
Last April, I sat down for a conversation with Daniel Johnston while he was in Seattle. If you read the transcript for the interview that we posted, you may remember Daniel mentioning that Converse had been in talks with him about the shoes. First, he was mentioning that he was asked to do some drawings for the Iron Man movie poster, but that he doubted that they would actally end up using them. After that, he referred to his involvement with Converse by saying, “And then, on top of that, they designed a shoe-“, “...they want me to design a shoe with my drawings in it“, and “What will they think of next?” Over the last year, I had wondered if the shoes would ever surface and, apparently, they hadn’t until the following images were posted on to a man named Danny Crombie‘s Flickr account. Unfortunately, at this point, these are the only pair that we know of in existence.
You’ll notice that the shoes are indeed printed with Daniel‘s artwork and feature the most classic and recognizable characters from his drawings and music. Everything from Jeremiah the innocent [frog], Joe the boxer, the Yip/Jump baby, and the “Fly Eye” from the Continued Story album, are all represented on these kicks.
Daniel‘s signature is located on the back towards the heel.
Both Johnston‘s signature and Jeremiah the Innocent are sewn into a tag on the tongue.
The inside of the lining of the canvas Chuck Taylors feature’s the lyrics from the song “Worried Shoes“.
Underneath his Flickr images, Crombie explains, “These images appear to be the only in existence on the internet, there are no articles apart from a brief mention on Daniel’s Wikipedia page.
I found these in a shop in Perth, Australia and they look like the coolest pair of shoes ever made, they don’t fit me though!”
I left a comment for him letting him know that Daniel had mentioned them to me in the interview and that I had been curious about if I was ever going to actually see them. He responded by saying, “They’re beautiful eh? I found them through total mistake, I don’t know if they even make these as they’re a sample. I was a bit bummed out because they weren’t in my size!”
I told him that I was going to email Dick Johnston, Daniel‘s brother/manager, and offered to get back to him if and when I found out what the deal was with his shoes. I sent the email to Dick stating, “I was wondering what the situation was with them and if, for some reason, Converse never released them.”
The next day I received the following response:
“Yes, they paid Daniel for the deal, but then the project was dropped when executives canned it – they just weren’t familiar with Daniel according to our contact at Converse. There may have been a few made if someone bought a pair, as we saw artwork, etc., but it was never given distribution.
We actually have other offers from other shoe makers that if I just follow up on them, we’ll probably get a deal. There will be a bio-pic movie of Daniel in a few years, and if nothing else, at that point we’ll probably see something.
Clearly, someone from Converse took an interest in Daniel and thought that it would be a great idea to produce the shoe. We agree that it was, however, let’s not forget that Nike purchased Converse back in 2003 and, by definition, a corporation is all about making money. They clearly didn’t see the appeal or value in producing them but, much like when there was a bidding war over Johnston‘s music during his days in the mental ward, I believe that Dick is probably right about his feelings that more offers will be pouring in once Daniel proves that he may be marketable on a larger scale.
I sent the information that I learned to Dan Crombie and he graciously allowed us to post his images of the finished shoes here on the site. We thank him for that and have provided the links to his Flickr account and website at the bottom of the post. Please do not contact him about any interest in purchasing these prototypes. HE DOES NOT WANT TO SELL THEM!
I wanted to clarify what Dick had stated in his email. I was surprised that Converse had never even shown him or Daniel the finished product before. Here’s what he told me:
“We were given lots of “blank” shoe samples, and digital photos of the pieces – including the inside and outside fabric.”
He also provided us with the exclusive digital pieces mentioned (below).
The “Worried Shoes” Lyrics in Daniel’s handwriting
An alternate lining print
Footbed featuring “Joe the Boxer” and “Vile Corrupt”
We strongly encourage you to visit the following links:
HiHowAreyou.com (official Daniel Johnston website)
YipEyeTunes.com (Daniel’s official digital download site)
RejectedUnknown.com (official Daniel Johnston website)
D.G.Crombie’s Flickr account
Danny Crombie’s website (check out his Kurt Cobain signature Converse too! Too bad the royalties are being smoked up in Courtey Love’s crack stem)