So, this is how it all comes together for me. I buy a book because I like the cover, and find out that the stories in the book are incredible. I buy an album because I’ve heard the band and really like them. With that, I get the great artwork that is on the cover of the twelve-inch. I notice years later that the artwork on the book and the album are similar.
The Sci-Fi cover artist, Wally Wood, did covers and interior drawings for over 60 issues of Galaxy Sci-Fi. He also was a comic book artist for Marvel, Atlas Comics, DC, and EC. I love all of Wood’s Sci-Fi comic art, but in studying his life story, the art he did on social issues in Entertainment Comics intrigues me the most, which included some anti-KKK stories.
Did you know that comics took on racial equality, anti-war advocacy, nuclear disarmament, and environmentalism, way back in the 50s? They were making radical statements until the 1954-55 censorship movement put an end to it. The Comics Magazine Association of America set up their own self-censorship with the Comics Code Authority. Most comic books voluntarily adhered to it because the comic book wholesalers would not distribute the ones without the seal.
I’m sure Wally Wood hated this restriction. He loved drawing shapely scantily clad women and creepy creatures, neither of which were allowed by the CCA.
In 1967, right after Walt Disney died, Wood created a parody poster of Disney characters having sex and doing drugs.
The bottom line for me though, is that “no one drew spacemen fighting zombies quite like Wally Wood.”
The artist of the album cover for the band Trapeze also had a brilliant career. Phil Travers did all those great Moody Blues album covers, my favorite being The Search for the Lost Chord. The band Trapeze was produced by the Moody Blues singer-songwriter and bassist John Lodge who brought along his album cover artist for the new band he had discovered.
I still love the songs on the Medusa album. The first one on the album is called Black Cloud. The introductory riff puts me in a good mood every time I hear it. Probably because of the time of my life that I was in, but I still think it is such a great song. “I got to keep on moving along babe…” The lyrics are blues lyrics, but the song just makes me happy.
In 1970, we were listening to the new Black Sabbath album and we knew there had never been anything like this. Anyone who has heard this album remembers the three notes of the title song. Well, Trapeze changed those notes a little and used them in the second song on the Medusa album, Jury. The songs themselves are different and both great. Just one great band borrowing from another and changing it up a bit.
All of rock and roll started by borrowing from the blues. Much great art began by borrowing from those who came before. I am so grateful for the great blues players that inspired the rock music that I grew up with. It took me years to go back and find out where the music began, and now I’m also a fan of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, and so many others. I don’t know, but if Keith Richards and others of his ilk hadn’t found them and imitated them, I might not have ever been exposed to some of the greatest musicians of all time. Once again, this is how it all came together for me.
I love finding the connections and pathways along which music and art have evolved. Still looking, still learning.