comics, Dr Vibes, Fran Raya, HB, pssst, punk, Reducers, Trickswitch, Vibes

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’…

artists, comics, nudes, obituaries, paintings

RIP Fantasy Legend Frank Frazetta

Frank Frazetta died on the 10th May 2010 from a stroke, 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.

For someone of my age, it is impossible not to think of Frank Frazetta when we think of fantasy. Frazetta was ubiquitous and his paintings adorned the bookshelves with their unique blend of realistic painting, with wholly unrealistic idealised men and women with ne-er so much as a chain to hide their nudity. Un-PC it might have been, but it was probably thanks to his art that we still remember Conan the Barbarian, and the rise of Arnold Schwarzenegger. And are able to continue to enjoy the likes of 300, Game of Thrones, Thor, Tarzan, John Carter of Mars etc. on TV and film.

Aged 16, he started drawing for comic books that varied in themes: westerns, fantasy, mysteries, and histories. Some of his earliest work was in funny animal comics, which he signed as “Fritz”. During this period he turned down job offers from comic giants such as Walt Disney. But in the early 1950s, he worked for EC Comics and several other comic book companies. Through the work on the Buck Rogers covers for Famous Funnies, Frazetta started working with Al Capp on his Li’l Abner comic strip.

Frazetta was also producing his own strip, Johnny Comet at this time, as well as working on the Flash Gordon daily strip. In 1961, after nine years with Capp, Frazetta returned to regular comics. Work in comics for him was hard to find, as comics had changed during his period with Capp and his style was deemed antiquated. Eventually he joined Harvey Kurtzman doing the parody strip Little Annie Fanny in Playboy magazine. But it wasn’t until 1964 that one of his magazine ads caught the eye of United Artists studios. He was approached to do the movie poster for What’s New Pussycat and earned his yearly salary in one afternoon.

He did several other movie posters and started producing paintings for paperback editions of adventure books. His cover for the sword-and-sorcery collection Conan the Adventurer by Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp caused a sensation. Numerous people bought the book for its cover alone. From this point on, Frazetta’s work was in great demand and became the standard for the fantasy genre. During this period he also did covers for other paperback editions of classic Edgar Rice Burroughs books, such as Tarzan and John Carter of Mars. He also did several pen and ink illustrations for many of these books.

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

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

RIP Frank… you’ll be sadly missed but not forgotten