Daniel Johnston

Arena, Runch Comics and Toys Shop, 2008

Daniel has misbehaved the previous day on his European tour. “That is why he is not supposed to go to a comic book store here in Vienna,” his brother Dick Johnston explains. An exceptional punishment for an exceptional performer. Daniel Johnston is a living legend who, as a man in his late 40s, still requires assistance from his family as if he were a simple-hearted child. The tide of events in his career of endless ups and downs reveal a deeply vulnerable, but, at the same time, unbending character that is unconditionally adored by his fans and has always been an idol for some grand musicians such as Kurt Cobain, Tom Waits, The Flaming Lips or Bright Eyes. On the search for fame and glory, Johnston rather became an antiheroic enigma, where you can no longer draw a line between his hurtfully intense life and his poignantly authentic art. Daniel Johnston’s unglamorous appearance and his unvarnished imperfection leave it all to the spooky power of his lo-fi songs. So when his pick slips through his hand while playing (“Maybe you can edit this together”) and he needs a few seconds to find the right chords, his brother comments, “This looseness somehow belongs to him.” Once Dick has softened up, Daniel finally gets to dig in boxes of comic rarities. After his following performance in a comic book store Daniel Johnston discloses in complete frankness, “That is the best thing about going on tour, because I get to go to all the comic book stores.”

Michael Luger
Sound Recording
Matthias Leihs
Post production
Simon Brugner


Arena is a cultural center and music venue in the industrialized district of Erdberg. Its beginnings hark back to 1976, when some thousand demonstrators gathered around the former St. Marx Auslandsschlachthof to save it from demolition and subsequent commercial use. While they were not able to save the huge building complex, the vast social movement did succeed in reaching the foundation of an autonomous cultural center on the smaller area of the former slaughterhouses, which represents today’s Arena. Presently Arena has integrated a wide musical spectrum to its programme for various crowds and commercial use. Yet Arena’s dictum “Love Music, Hate Fascism!” is more than a relict of old days as it is still the venue with the most punk concerts in town.

Runch Comics and Toys Shop

Comic book lovers’ eyes might grow twice as big (like Daniel Johnston’s did) when they enter a shop like Runch! in Kaiserstraße in Vienna. Runch! specializes in mangas, action figures and science-fiction comics, but offers virtually all kinds of collectibles, such as gaming cards or rare Star Wars stuff. Every inch of the shop is packed with comics and toys ranging from well known classics to obscure rarities. Collectors will want to ascend the creaking stairs to the first floor where loads of old comics are stored in numerous boxes. In case there are any customer wishes which cannot be satisfied with the assortment in the shop, Runch! has an own import from Japan and the US. The 7th-district-location is close to the traffic hub Westbahnhof and the shopping street Mariahilfer Straße.