Twenty years ago, I drew the first batch of Bands I Useta Like strips.
Twenty years ago.
I don’t know if the strip’s gotten better or worse, that’s for the critics to decide. I pulled this one out of a sickness that I still haven’t fully recovered from. It was legitimately the first time I’ve caught a cold in five years. So far my right ear has been plugged up for over two weeks. It sucks a big bag of dicks. Nothing compared to that abscess in 2013, however. That was a square-dance with Death, believe me.
I strip-cleaned three of my Rapidographs to do that “Aoxomoxoa” pastiche for the logo. Originally I intended to include the words “20th Anniversary”, but time ran out. That logo took around 30 hours to complete. Yes, it’s my fourth time going back to the Rick Griffin well. Hey- show me an artist whose work immediately reads as ROCK ‘N ROLL. Stanley Mouse, maybe, or Vic Moscoso, but you don’t know who they are, and I don’t need confirmation on that. Really, it’s bad enough that I have to tell people who Rick Griffin was.
You’ve seen The Cult’s Love Removal Machine? That was Rick. So was Dylan & The Dead, natch. He rendered Alfred E. Neuman so well on the cover of Man’s Slow Motion that MAD magazine stepped in with a cease and desist. Rick was a god of lettering, design and verisimilitude. He drew both logos for Rolling Stone, a magazine that used to really mean something aside from cologne and cigarette ads.
Flash forward to 1995. American Recordings releases Empty, the first full-length album from industrial techno group God Lives Underwater. Some intern at the label says “hey, there’s like this statue of God or Jesus or something, that’s underwater,” and a stock photo is culled from a portfolio of images (this was prior to search engines). A futuristic Mac font provides the titling, and BAM. Time for lunch, guys!
Rick Griffin had a serious relationship with God. It showed in his work, and thus, the music contained therein was illuminated. Elevated. Because if you’re an artist, and you believe in nothing greater than yourself, that shows too. It shows that you’re simply marking time for money. You might as well make cheeseburgers; your audience will see that the label says “cheeseburger”, eat your creation, and shit it out later, without a second thought.
You tell me. Would this music not have been better served with a cover you could really gaze into for hours, and “lose yourself” in?
I offer that it couldn’t have hurt.
Cool photo, though.
Twenty years I’ve been drawing this strip. In 1998, Rolling Stone was just borderline readable. There were huge photos of Jewel and her great big tits, just to prove what a serious artist and poetess she was. Janet (Good Times) Jackson appeared on the cover topless, with some unseen dude behind her, cupping her fake round tits like Nerf balls, so you knew she was musically talented as fuck. Guys like Kurt Cobain wore filthy sundresses, because a dude in a dress apparently means ROCK ‘N ROLL. Meanwhile, Paula Cole mewled “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?”
If I had to guess, Paula, they all canceled their Rolling Stone subscriptions, because cowboys are real men, and they probably dislike being teased by half-dressed female singers and low-T guys in women’s clothing. Maybe literally nothing in entertainment is appealing to them anymore. Maybe your music and everything you listen to is aural poison to someone with a real job. I don’t know, I just draw pictures.
It used to be about connecting with your audience, not forcing trends down their throats like fucking MTV. God Lives Underwater connected with me, which is why I’m writing about them, over twenty years later. It’s why I appreciate them for what they’ve done. It’s why I’m still here.
What’s on the cover of Rolling Stone right now? Taylor Swift? No man listens to Taylor Swift. It’s something men abide so they don’t hurt a girl’s feelings. That’s what music has come to now. Men have to be quiet and let the women hear “their music”, lest the women become hysterical and offended and lash out. Because they know it’s not good music. They know it has the depth of a Barbie commercial. They don’t care, they support it, and we are all the poorer for it.
That’s why music in general sucks a donkey dick right now. It’s indefensible, but god forbid you criticize it, or the BRAVE EMPOWERED WYMYN will turn their backs and leave. Because that’s what they all do when they can’t get what they want. They leave. Every single time. Bet on it.
Go ahead, get mad. You know I’m right. When the chips are down, the woman leaves for someone else. A ring or a baby might improve your odds, but not by much. If a man jilts a woman, a line immediately forms to give him a beating, whether he has it coming or not. If a woman jilts a man, it’s a “fresh start”. A “new beginning”, laden with possibilities and promise. Hey; maybe this is why men grumble when women start in about “equality”. You don’t mean equality. You mean a head start advantage for anyone with a vagina. You mean men who abide your every caprice and whim. You mean men who hold you as a paragon of sexuality and desire, but who never bother you with filthy intercourse, or even touch.
Oh, look at that. You left.
Not me. I’m still here.
I’m still here.