The Times published a great piece today about a new iPhone video game based on the art of Daniel Johnston. It’s called “Hi, How Are You?” and it features characters that have appeared in Johnston’s drawing over the years, including the most iconic of them all, the bug-eyed frog everyone knows from Kurt Cobain’s t-shirt. The game was designed by two Austin-based designers, and to win it, one must navigate a “morally fraught three-dimensional world of glowing red demon babies and other malign forces” that are hell-bent on keeping you from your true love. I also imagine Captain America makes an appearance somewhere along the way.
According to his brother and business manager Dick Johnston, Daniel played the game briefly and seemed to enjoy it. According to Daniel himself, though, not so much.
Reached at his father’s house recently after he had returned from a concert tour in the Midwest, Mr. Johnston did not seem to remember much about the game or having played it. Asked what he thought of his work serving as the basis for a video game, he sighed and said, “Just another milestone in Daniel Johnston history, I guess.”
But he added that he had come of age when a video game was played with a joystick, on a television screen, usually one encased in a large wooden box with slots for quarters. “If they make it into a real video game, it might work out, I guess,” he said. “I don’t even know what an iPhone is.”
Am I the only one who wonders if maybe, on some level deep down, Daniel’s fucking with us just a little bit?