Tim Sale

Hosted by
Heroes artist Tim Sale reveals his code song for finishing a comic and the track that served as his wake up call for inking in the early morning when he was just starting out. He also tells DJ Eric J. Lawrence about a music purchase that elicited approving hollers from the staff of Sam Goody and the soulful song that he keeps on repeat. Tim has worked on some of the most iconic comic characters of all time, including Batman, Superman,Spider-Man and the Hulk. His new comic book series is called Captain America: White. The preview edition is available now.

Find out more:


1. Archie Bell - Tighten Up
2. Southside Johnny - Hearts of Stone
3. Bruce Springsteen - Racing in the Street
4. Marvin Gaye - Inner City Blues
5. Stevie Ray Vaughn - Pride and Joy


Eric J. Lawrence: Hi this is Eric J. Lawrence from KCRW and I'm happy to be joined today by artist Tim Sale. And if you're a hardcore comic book fan such as myself, you may recognize Tim as one of the best in the business having worked on some of the most iconic characters in all of comics including Batman, Superman, Spiderman and the Hulk. And if you're not a regular comic book reader, you probably still recognize his work as appearing in the hit TV show “Heroes” and he is joining us today to discuss some of his favorite music. So Tim, thanks for coming down.

Tim Sale: Thank you for having me.

Eric J. Lawrence: So, we asked you to select some songs that you enjoy and one of the songs you selected was Archie Bell and the Drells, "Tighten Up."

Tim Sale: Absolutely.

Eric J. Lawrence: What meaning does that have for you?

Tim Sale: Well, it ties in to comics very easily in that my constant collaborator, Jeph Loeb…. he sends me a script, I start penciling, at some point he asks me how far along I am and I can say that I'm ‘Archie Bell and the Drells-ing.’

Song: "Tighten Up," by Archie Bell and the Drells.

Tim Sale: I will go through, pencil very loosely the whole book, and then go back, relook at it and tighten up the pencils and not everybody knows who Archie Bell and the Drells are…

Eric J. Lawrence: Right.

Tim Sale: but he knew exactly, all I had to do was say ‘I'm Archie Bell and the Drells-ing,’ and he said, ‘Ah, I see, ok got you.’

Eric J. Lawrence: Alright well here it is -- here's code for finishing up the comics, Archie Bell and the Drells and their classic from '68, "Tighten Up."

Well, you've selected a few other things here, how about picking another one and telling me a little bit about why that song is meaningful to you.

Tim Sale: I went to the John Buscema Workshop and for anybody who's into '60's comics, John Buscema was a Marvel comic artist and he was a big hero of mine and he had a workshop. He and two other Marvel artists at the time taught in New York City. I got accepted, I went. I was pretty homesick and miserable but I discovered there Bruce Springsteen and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes.

Song: "This Time It's For Real," by Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes.

Tim Sale: Here's a little story…I went to Sam Goody's to ask for a Southside Johnny tape. What you did was, you go up to the counter and they had like miles and miles of rows of stuff and they had runners to go back. I said, ‘I'd like Southside Johnny’s This Time It's For Real,’ and way in the back of the catacombs I heard, ‘ALL RIGHT!’ and a guy came running out thirty seconds later, ‘Here ya go! It’s great!’ and I said ‘Really, what it like?’ Cause I had heard ‘This Time It's For Real,’ which is the first one. And he said … ‘Well you know, it compares to it this way, that way. It’s more like its live and…’ It was great, it was really EXACTLY what I loved about both Bruce and Southside.

Eric J. Lawrence: Yeah, ok. Well you had selected both a Bruce and Southside track here but let's play a little Southside Johnny then, the track "Hearts of Stone".

Tim Sale: Written by Bruce.

Eric J. Lawrence: Written by Bruce! So, there's a good combo there for you -- Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes, "Hearts of Stone," here with Tim Sale.

Song: "Racing in the Street," by Bruce Springsteen.

Eric J. Lawrence: Alright, well you had mentioned the Bruce Springsteen song "Racing in the Street." Why that song? What resonates with you?

Tim Sale: Oh, it just breaks my heart. The recording of it is pretty, is pretty dead -- I think they would all agree about that, on The Darkness album, BUT his singing in it, ‘Baby did you make it alright?’ -- it just breaks my heart every time I hear it. And it was the time of my life…it was early to mid-twenties when I was taking a lot of stuff in very hard, in that early twenties kind of way, and, as I said, I was obsessed with it, he really spoke -- and that album especially -- really spoke to me.

Eric J. Lawrence: We just heard Bruce Springsteen, ‘Racing in the Streets,’ from The Darkness on the Edge of Town album, as selected by Tim Sale. You included a Marvin Gaye song, ‘Inner City Blues.’

Song: "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)," by Marvin Gaye.

Tim Sale: Yeah.

Eric J. Lawrence: I think that's the concluding cut to his 1971 classic, ‘What's Going On.’

Tim Sale: ‘What's Going On,’ yeah.

Eric J. Lawrence: Why that track?

Tim Sale: Just 'cause it's my favorite. There was a time when I thought of that era of Marvin Gaye's work as Muzak because there was….I mean it was a concept album. There were a lot of similarities to it, as I understand it, he brought a lot of his friends from the Detroit Lions in to do the ‘Hey man, what's goin' on?’ in the background…

Eric J. Lawrence: Ok.

Tim Sale: The party noises.

Eric J. Lawrence: I didn't know that.

Tim Sale: ‘Everything is everything!’ That's my favorite part. Anyway, that's more from ‘What's Going On’ but I just love the beat, and I could listen to it over and over and over again, it's definitely a Desert Island album and track for me.

Eric J. Lawrence: Yeah, ok. Well here it is, Marvin Gaye with ‘Inner City Blues,’ with the parenthetical (Make Me Wanna Holler.)

Tim Sale: Yeah.

Eric J. Lawrence: Marvin Gaye here, with Tim Sale.

Song: "Pride and Joy," by Double Trouble (Stevie Ray Vaughn).

Eric J. Lawrence: Looks like we've got Stevie Ray Vaughn, "Pride and Joy."

Tim Sale: This song really reminds me of my first work in comics which was obscurely inking a man named Phil Folio on a Warp Graphics-published title called "MythAdventures." My very first work in comics -- I was dead broke and I got 500 bucks for inking twenty seven pages in a week. (Editor’s Note: Eric exclaims/gasps silently) I know, I'm hearing everyone there out in radio land.

I got up at 3 in the morning, I was sharing a house with three other guys and they were in a band and they practiced late at night or at night in the basement. I tried to go to sleep around nine o'clock 'cause I got up at 3 to do comics work…

Eric J. Lawrence: Wow.

Tim Sale: before going to my job. I was obsessed with Stevie Ray Vaughn the minute that I heard him. And, one of the ways to stay awake or wake up was to sit there and listen to "dar da dar da larng da lard a laaaar!" It was just great.

Eric J. Lawrence: Well, let's here it, its music from Stevie Ray Vaughn and his band Double Trouble doing "Pride and Joy." Well Tim, I want to thank you for coming down and telling us about some of your favorite tunes. Artist Tim Sale.

Tim Sale: I had a great time, thanks.