Friday, 25 June 2010

The '70s indie music scene and Dr Vibes




It still amazes me just how much of an incredible resource the internet is. Way back in the 70s when the world was a very different place, I was still a fresh (albeit pimpled) faced youth and heavily into the indie-comic scene. Also at this time, punk music was breaking through and Manchester was becoming the focal point of the music scene (just ask Tony Wilson). In this environment stood 'Vibes Records', a cult record shop which was enjoying being at the centre of this scene, and was busy expanding to become a record label, as well as a cult magazine publisher.

Now to help the magazine establish its image, I was asked to provide original underground comic strips. The main strip: 'The Abominable Dr Vibes' proved very popular and kept me busy till the magazine folded, and so when the shop decided to start producing records... I was there to create the covers. This included the artists/bands: The Reducers, Trickswitch, and Fran Barrie.

So what has this all to do with the internet? Well this was over 30 years ago, and long before the internet and computers. Heck... it was in the days of the banda machine and typewriter! When I created this artwork I never expected it to survive all this time. Imagine my surprise then when I idly googled my 'name' Sadistic Scribbler, and found references to it associated with Fran Raya's (then Fran Barrie) record on various websites. Moreso surprised as at the time I was uncredited (as the artwork was not in keeping with 'Sadistic Scribbler' then image).

So not only had someone decided to document this little piece of history, they had also researched who had done the cover and had added it to the internet as a resource.

Wow! Who'd've thunk it!

So if anyone is curious about what this ancient piece of art memorabilia looked like, look no further than the image here (or check out the re-release). Now if only someone would archive the Vibes Magazine strips and the comics 'HB' and 'pssst'...

Thursday, 17 June 2010

RIP Fantasy Legend Frank Frazetta





Frank Frazetta died on the 10th May, and I for one am one of the millions who were saddened to hear this news. Like many, my childhood was heavily influenced by his art... on fantasy-genre book and comic covers, his artwork provided inspiration (and for some: titillation) to many my age. Whether you liked his work or not, it was always memorable... and often promised much more than the book content oft delivered.


If you want to find out more about the man and his art, here are some links to sites where you can start:

http://www.frankfrazettamuseum.com/
http://www.frankfrazetta.org/

And just to illustrate how popular his work was, here's a piece of his that sold for $1million:



http://www.spectrumfantasticart.com/full_content.php?article_id=1084&full=yes&pbr=1

And of course, there's always Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Frazetta

RIP Frank... you'll be sadly missed but not forgotten


Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Objects that make my legs go wobbly (in a good way)




I've just spotted this piece of retro-technology and immediately fell in love! How can anyone not want one of these objects of desire? Forget the ipad as the most desirable thing du jour... let's all queue up for the USB Typewriter! Feel the clunkiness and weight with every keystroke... this is what I miss with modern computers - and now I can have the best of both worlds: a natty state-of-the-art tech (like the ipad) driven by beautiful machinery. Come on... we all know that this is what makes we boys weak at the knees, just look inside the TARDIS or watch the latest Sherlock Holmes to see how the closet steam-engine enthusiast in us all is dying to burst out.

Don't worry if you think you'd need to learn a new skill to drive this marvelous piece of machinery as the modern keyboard hasn't changed since its inception, so you'll be experiencing the joys of real hunt-n-pecking in no time. We still use the QWERTY key layout that was created especially for the typewriter, and as some of you may know, this particular arrangement of keys was created to be intentionally slow. When people were able to type too quickly hammers would collide damaging the typewriter, so the makers purposefully arranged the keys to keep them from being hit too fast. Now you'll have a good excuse to miss all the deadlines and finally take the time to enjoy what you're typing. Also, all the letters to spell TYPEWRITER were distributed along the top row to allow salesmen to quickly type out that "Hello World" phrase during demonstrations - try doing that with COMPUTER... or worse still, try to do that using the ipad's naff on-screen keyboard.

Re-live the halcyon days before the ZX80 and be the envy of your ipad-wielding friends... This is the future!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

So, what's with all the pink?





Some of the more observant among you will have noticed that I've re-designed my blog, and it's predominately pink in hue. Now if the phrase "but you're a dude... why have pink?" springs to mind... then shame on you. Pink is an excellent colour (or to be correct... tone) and needs to be freed from the chains of prejudice and bigotry. I personally like this colour, and am currently working with it to create a series of body abstract paintings (the first of which: 'Pink is the colour of intamacy' is above).

These paintings (2 more in the pipeline) not only try to capture the innocence and gentleness of the colour, they also incorporate some of the colour's more popular connotations: love and sexual preference. Yes, pink is the colour of love... although hearts are red, and is also the colour used to identify all things gay. The latter reference probably dates back to Hitler and his camps where homosexual men were badged with pink triangles (along with yellow stars for Jews, and Roma gypsies with black triangles) rather than the gender stereotyping we know today.

Speaking of stereotyping... colour has for a long time been used to symbolise things. From the yellow of fear, to the red of rage, colours create an immediate unconscious response in people. For example, very little food we eat is coloured blue (Smarties just prove the rule), as edible vegitation tends not to come in that colour. And art has used colour as a code to help the viewer understand hidden meaning. I am refering to the trend for Renaissance (and pre-Renaissance) artists to 'colour code' religious figures.

You may not be consciously aware of it, but we all associate colour with the figures from the Bible. If I were to ask you to describe Mary, although there is no description of her in the texts, I am sure that everyone will know that she wears sky blue (and white) robes. Am I right? What of Jesus? I bet red is in there somewhere. What you may be less aware of is that each apostle is awarded his own colour, which in turn has a connotational meaning to further describe his character. I won't go into any more detail (as that's what Google is for) except to say that Judas wearing yellow is no coincidence.

But surely everyone knows that pink is the colour of girls, and that blue is for boys?

Again, not true... I'm a boy (albeit now old and wrinkly) and I have no problem wearing pink. In fact, the notion that 'pink is for girls' is a relatively modern notion that was artifically introduced in the 1940s. Uptil then, the colour for girls was blue... just as the Virgin Mary, and for boys it was a toned-down red: ie pink, clearly seen as a masculine colour.

So pink had always been the male colour, and blue for girls. So what happened? Well, in the neverending noble quest to get women on an equal footing with men, the 'girly' colour blue was abandoned for the more masculine colour pink. And then some decades later (in the late '60s, early '70s I think) there was another push, this time to market goods specifically to girls, and pink was decided to become the branding colour for girls... and since then we boys have been denied it's elegant beauty.

I'm here to redress that imbalance. Long live pink (and now I'm off to watch 'Doctor Who')

---------- A quick addition

Another titbit of pink info... did you know that during WWII the British Spitfires were painted pink as this made them invisible to the eye while they surveilled France? Wish I had a photo. Also, I've just found a neat graphic charting the history of the colour pink. Check it out at http://bit.ly/bJ6pmE