Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sight for Sound: "I Remember"

third in a series of illustrated song lyrics ]

 words by molly drake (mother of nick drake)

We tramped the open moorland in the rainy April weather,
And came upon the little inn that we had found together,
The Landlord gave us toast and tea and stopped to share a joke.
And I remember firelight, I remember firelight,
I remember firelight, ... and you remember smoke.

We ran about the meadow grass with all the hairbells bending,
And shaking in the summer wind, a summer never-ending,
We wandered to the little stream, among the river flats.
And I remember willow trees, I remember willow trees,
I remember willow trees, ... and you remember gnats.

We strolled the Spanish marketplace at ninety in the shade,
With all the fruit and vegetables so temptingly arrayed,
And we can share a memory, as every lover must.
And I remember oranges, I remember oranges,
I remember oranges, ... and you remember dust.

The autumn leaves are tumbling down and winter’s almost here,
But through the spring and summertime we laughed away the year,
And now we can be grateful for the gift of memory.
For I remember having fun, two happy hearts that beat as one,
When I had thought that we were “we”, ... but we were “you” and “me”.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Plop Art Pop Art: The Beauty of Ugly

PLOP! "The New Magazine of Weird Humor!" was a 24 issue "anthology comic" magazine, published bi-monthly from Sept./Oct. 1973 to Nov./Dec.1976. Boasting many of the talented artists from the early years of the satirical counter-culture rag MAD Magazine, PLOP! delivered gruesome yet comic morality tales (usually "hosted" by a cast of three reoccurring characters, Cain, Abel and Eve) illustrated in typical offbeat fashion (from the pen of master cartoonist Sergio Aragonés). 

A Wolverton classic based upon his even uglier Lena the Hyena
As a juvenile at the time, I was attracted to it's grotesquely zany cover art of exaggerated anatomy by the uniquely inventive and free-flowing artist Basil Wolverton and the brilliantly versatile but deeply troubled Wallace Wood. This work represents both veteran artists near the end of their lives. Looking back I can see how these outlandish characters influenced my early free-form doodles and "just for fun" illustrations. In fact my school notebooks looked like leftover PLOP! cover concept galleries.  

Wolverton, referred to as the 'Michelangelo of MAD' by The New York Times, had a trademark "crossed-hatched rubber-hosed bug-eyed" style and was very fond of grotesque portraiture. You may have seen his famous cover for the May 1954 issue of MAD Magazine, parodying Life Magazine's "Beautiful Girl of the Month" issues. (Image at right) Yep, she sure is sumfin.

Wood had a more refined and varied style, illustrating everything from Atlas and Marvel comics (Daredevil, Dr. Doom), children's picture books, record album covers, Mars Attacks trading cards, product packaging, as well as writing and drawing syndicated comic strips. 

He's also well known for his edgy satirical work. He illustrated a few risqué titles which featured parodies of Disney characters shown engaging in "unexpected situations". Sadly, Wallace later took his own life. 

So welcome to this long overdue "virtual retrospective" of the PLOP! ART of Basil Wolverton and Wally Wood. You are more likely to find their work hanging on some college dorm room wall, than in the Louvre or the Smithsonian. And something tells me that's just how these guys would've prefered it. Admission here is always free, but if you should feel like offering a contribution... we only accept your comments. Your money is no good here. Enjoy!  

Art Arteries by Basil Wolverton

Roarin' Rodney Roadrunner by Wally Wood

Messy Tessie and Darlin' Daisy Dallyrimple by Basil Wolverton

Untitled by Basil Wolverton

Famous Four Eyes "Bo" Garth by Wally Wood
Josephine by Basil Wolverton (an obvious satire of those controversial 1971 ads for National Airlines)

Feets Fleagle by Basil Wolverton

Untitled  by Wally Wood

Nooly Nostrildamus by Basil Wolverton
"Arms" Armstrong by Basil Wolverton

"Smokin' Sanford" by Wally Wood
Billy Button by Basil Wolverton
Ashur, Crasher and Basher by Basil Wolverton

"Multiple Mouth McCardy" by Wally Wood

Alfred Adamsapple and Snapper Snodgrass by Basil Wolverton
As far as I know this one is untitled, but I like to call it Blobby McGee

Byron Bigbrain III by Basil Wolverton

Basil Wolverton has such an interesting catalog of work... I'll highlight more of his fun stuff in a future post.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

if only (a poem)

If only for one wish,
an angel or a bird,
a winged messenger to speed my love to you

If only to accomplish,
those words you never heard,
an expression of the heart you never knew

If only for this fire,
still raging in my heart,
sending skyfulls of smoke signals your way

If only for this desire,
even though we're apart,
simply to know you felt a smile today

If only for the chance,
to cast away your fears,
a gift of comfort on the darkest night

If only for one romance,
to last my final years,
letting you fly free while holding you tight

If only for the way,
perhaps a chance to say,
this love is stronger than you realize

If only for one day,
without these clouds of gray,
always turning to rain... behind my eyes

If only...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Vinyl Word (Designer Toys)

In 2010 I designed a series of vinyl toys built on the popular Monskey frame. So-called "designer toys" have been growing in popularity since the late 1990's and offer fans a way of collecting limited edition "tiny sculptures" from artists around the world. 

Of course for children toys have long provided an outlet for imaginative play, exploration and learning, as well as offering comfort and companionship in times of stress. Today adults can appreciate toys for their aesthetic design. And by collecting unique "urban vinyl toys" they help support artists directly while actually making small investments into the art world. True designer toys are hand-produced in very limited runs and nearly always go up in value. 

I thought I'd share some of my 2010 Monskey designs with you. Enjoy.

Exhibiting two opposing personalities, Skitzo can reflect your mood, whether it be gloomy or sunny.

This little Canadian fella wears his heart on his sleeve... and um, his other organs too. 

This is the down-on-his-luck cousin to a certain more famous mouse.

Leaping from the stages of Peking Opera comes this dynamic woman warrior character (Wu Dan).

For the lovelorn comes this little broken-hearted companion. Don't be sad.

When things get too hot to handle, this tiny guy can take the heat. Flame On!

Cheer up! She's just too cute to not decorate your desk with. 

Now you know who's been eating your bananas. Chinese mythology comes alive! 
[Just follow the links in the text at the top of this page to learn more.]

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Vintage Micro Minis

    Reminiscent of the little metal "pedal cars" I happily scooted around the sidewalks of my youth, vintage micro cars retain their unique charm even if their utility (and, let's be honest, safety) can sometimes be questionable. What they may lack in speed, luxury and roominess, these little (mostly Post-World War II European-made) contraptions certainly make up for it in "take me home I'm yours" cuteness. Much like Disney's ole Herbie, the Love Bug, micro cars (sometimes known as Kei Cars, or keijidōsha, in Japan) have abundant personality most larger mass assembly vehicles are unfortunately deficient in. These little submarine-like minis are marvels of micro-engineering as well as style and form. And yet they just beg for a hug. Can you imagine a race of all micro minis? Like a Hanna-Barbera "wacky race" come to life.

So let's steal a glance in our rear view mirror shall we, at the micro minis of yesteryear. 
Trusted with our lives. These were the things that moved us.
And they can still move us today, even if they themselves remain motionless.  
Photos courtesy of Darin Schnabel / RM Auctions

And what happened when the mini grew up?
General Motor's Chevy badge worked with Segway, Inc. (and later SAIC Motors in China) to develop these electric autonomous operation bubble cars for urban markets in China and Europe:

"Looks like this R2 Unit has a bad motivator"

For those interested in learning more about these and other unique vehicles,  you can visit the fine folks at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. They have the largest collection in the United States and would be happy to see ya. Happy motoring!