Top 10 Comic-Inspired Punk Album Art Pt. 1 by Emma Caterine

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Robert Crumb's album cover design
Underground music and comic artists have always had a close relationship, even prior to the famous team-up between artist Robert Crumb and radical blues rockers Big Brother and the Holding Company. Comics like "The Freak Brothers" extolled the merits of the sex, drugs, and rock n' roll lifestyle that bands like the Grateful Dead and Thirteenth Floor Elevators preached on-stage. But the 60's hippie rock n' roll did not perfectly sync with the ideals of the underground comic artist: it was so optimistic, so based on "love", so pacifist, and, in the words of Lou Reed, "so straight." Where underground comics finally found its great musical partner was in punk music, both the early hits of the Velvet Underground and the Ramones to the most recent genre defying modern artists. Here are ten of the best punk album art either inspired by or actually drawn by comic book artist.

It's a punk Lady and the Tramp!
1. Cristy C. Road: If you have not read Road's "Indestructible," stop reading this article and go get a copy now. I'll give you a few minutes...alright so Cristy C. Road is a comic artist/writer/musician/all-around queer punk who both has unquestionably punk aesthetics and values while at the same time challenging the white heterosexual male stereotype of it. A great example of her work to show off this duality is the two covers she did for the split between pop-punk bands Teenage Bottlerocket and Broadway Calls:

It's how you feel if you watch Lady and the Tramp 2!
So first we have the Broadway Calls side. Two young punks sit outside in alley drinking either melting ice-cream or delicious pink paint out of a big tub, the whole time gazing into each others eyes intently. If you could somehow incorporate pizza and zits this would be the most pop-punk image of all time. But then you flip the album over and bam! pretty boy is handcuffed and gagged in a chair, his stare now desperate and afraid as the bad grrrl looks keenly towards the syringe she holds aloft. Roads subtly changes the background color, lighting (look at the shadows), and even adds in a partially worn "DANGER" sign to completely flip the mood. For all things Cristy Road click here.

The guy in the middle is kinda cute in that cartoon gutter punk sorta way.

2. Unknown Artist: Please comment if you know the name of this awesome artist, unfortunately as wonderful as the internet can be it is not perfect and I'm having trouble finding their name. So, for those of you not familiar, Malaysia is one of the most punk places in existence right now. If you don't believe me, check this out. Or better yet, check out the album cover to Malaysian hardcore punk band Appartus's "Hardcore Religion". This album captures street punk aesthetic way better than the corporatist mall marketed Western bands ever could. The band members look like they may be turning into crocodiles, guitars are hoisted with little regard as to holding them in a manner in which they can actually be played, and the guy on the left is definitely on drugs, perhaps from huffing the fumes from his flaming drum sticks. Sorry America and Great Britain, the most genuine expression of nihilistic youth now resides in the streets of Kuala Lumpur.

When psychotics design Mad magazine fold-ins.

3. Another Unknown Artist: The internet is being especially cruel. I may have to go pray to some youtube videos of cats and then rewrite this whole article to re-win their favor. Anyway the next album cover is from Assorted Jellybeans "What's Really Going On!?!" It is a masterpiece of yet another subgenre of punk: skate punk. If you saw this on the cover of a book sitting in the window of our store, you would not think twice about it being a new series. Skate punk centers around the pleasures of skaters: not just skateboarding but comics and anti-authoritarian attitudes. This album cover is snotty (seem bottom right corner), angsty, simple, crazy, weird, and urban, much like the band's music. I imagine the monster in the center of the picture probably does a lot of skateboarding, parent-hating, and herbal remedying.

Can't...escape...the stare!
4.  Stephanie Monohan: There's totally no personal bias at all going into this list: it is as fair and balanced as your favorite TV news network. Graphic artist and bassist of noise punk band Clean Girls Stephanie Monohan has a very distinct black and white cartoon style similar to the Hernandez Brothers. The cover for the band's new EP "American Mothers" is a great demonstration of her style and finesse: the cover is both creepy and beautiful, minimal and nuanced, chic and vulgar. The three figures seem to be emerging from the abyss of the background, not quite completely removed, and the haphazard crossing out of the first two faces makes the third all the more intense. Check out the EP here and see Clean Girls live Monday December 3rd at Death By Audio. And speaking of Los Hermanos...

Siouxsie Sioux realness.
5. Jaime Hernandez: Few artists would be more appropriate picks to round up part 1 of this list. Most of you know Jaime for his critically acclaimed Love and Rockets series, which features many different, mostly female, punk characters. Early in his career Jaime also did a few album covers, most notably for punk band Dr. Know. The title of the album this cover was originally made for is a bit less than family-friendly, so here is the same artwork which was also used for the Best of Dr. Know album. Goth and metal both like to think they have the full claim on all witch imagery, but Jaime shows that fierce blasphemous women are a pretty punk rock image. Punk fans will notice the pun-derful take on the Dead Kennedy's logo that Hernandez added to the top (or bottom?) of the upside down cross. Unlike Monohan's figures emerging from the darkness, Hernandez's witch seems to be dressed in it, the sinewy blackness wrapped around her arms and shoulders.

Check in next week for part 2. Have a cover you think I'll miss? Think that comics aren't as punk as I'd like to think? Want to spew your random thoughts anonymously and without consequence (of course you do, you're on the internet)? Post a comment or email me at



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