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Writers Forum – A passion for art

Dave Chisholm playing the trumpet (Photo Credit: Christopher Lewis)
Dave Chisholm playing the trumpet (Photo Credit: Christopher Lewis)

During Valentine’s week, author and musician Dave Chisholm came to visit the SUNY Brockport campus. During his visit, Chisholm showcased his recently published graphic novel “Miles Davis and the Search for the Sound” along with sharing his experience in the field. 

The 150-page graphic novel follows Davis’ journey over four decades of musical innovation, focusing on his relentless pursuit of a mysterious sound he encountered on a moonlit country road during his childhood. 

To kick off the event, Chisholm opened by playing two different songs on his trumpet; the first being “My Funny Valentine” and the second being “So What” by Miles Davis. Chisholm chose the first song because the day that he visited was Valentine’s Day. Chisholm chose his second song because the graphic novel that he just published was a biography of the late Miles Davis and how he maintained and reshaped his sound throughout the years. 

Chisholm grew up on music. One of Chisholm’s earliest memories was when his dad would put on music for him. No matter what, it was always jazz.   

“I remember when I was really little hearing Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis. My dad putting that record on, and it just had such a catchy title, Sketches of Spain…it was between that and Thriller by Michael Jackson that totally encapsulated my fondness for music,” says Chisholm.  

Chisholm not only grew up with a fondness for music, but also a fondness for comics and graphic novels. 

“The seeds of this book were planted when I was really young because I was always surrounded by comics and music. Every time I would lose a tooth the tooth fairy would bring a stack of comics, a big stack of comics and I gotta tell you, the comics from the 1980s were really really weird,” said Chisholm.

Because of his father’s influence, Chisholm started learning the trumpet when he was 11. By the time high school rolled around, Chisholm was taking his love for art and music more seriously. 

“I thought I loved his music (Miles Davis) so much I wanted somehow to capture some essence of his music in this 2D medium,” said Chisholm. 

Chisholm would spend hours of free time in his basement with his friends writing and drawing different forms of comics. While Chisholm wouldn’t see his work published until later in his career, elements of his most recent novel were conceived and outlined during that earlier period. 

After graduating from high school, Chisholm ended up going to the University of Utah where he would get his bachelor’s in jazz composition. Burnt out on music, Chisholm started delving deeper into his love for art.  

“I made a comic series called Let’s Go To Utah. And I posted it on DeviantArt. This turned into a sort of fanbase that led to great career opportunities down the line,” said Chisholm. 

After going back to get his masters degree, Chisholm decided to go all in on graphic novels.  

“I started working on a new series that surrounded music and artists in the field which was then published by a small publisher called Z2 Comics,” said Chisholm. “It just kind of snowballed from there. And I find myself in this sort of accidental position where I am the happiest I have ever been.”  

Chisholm’s book is available online, as well as in-person at Lift Bridge Bookstore on Main Street. 

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