Archive for October, 2003

RICK GRIFFIN

15 October 2003

RICK GRIFFIN was another hero and huge influence on me and my generation.

[Picture of Rick Griffin's Murphy Comic]Griffin, Mouse, Kelley and Robert Crumb were they guys we all wanted to be, man. We all got technical pens, Staedtler Mars and Rotring pens or rapidographs, and started doing our own comics in the new style that was inhabited by Fat Freddie’s Cat and The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.

[Picture of Comic Strip by Griffin: Murphy]I guess most kids today would associate “Cowabunga” with Bart Simpson, but it was Rick Griffin’s “Murphy” that coined the term way back in the 1970s. His impact has been so great that “Griffin” is today a surfing area in California, USA.

“Murphy” was a big influence on comics and comic book artists, of that there is no doubt in my mind. If you look at how Rick drew Murphy’s hair, it is plain that this style has informed Dennis The Menace and even the Fat Slags from Viz!

[Picture of Griffin artwork: Murphy Sez] [Picture of Dennis the Menace] [Picture of Fat Slags comic by Viz]

It was in his later psychedelic period, along with Kelley and Mouse, that we discovered Rick Griffin — through the artwork he did for the likes of The Grateful Dead, Jackson Browne and Man.

[Picture of Grateful Dead Album Cover] [Picture of Griffin's Jackson Browne Bonnie Raitt LP Art]

[Picture of Man album cover] [Picture of Grateful Dead Album: Blues for Allah]

I was always struck by his lettering; he seemed to have a way with incorporating the words into the work. Griffin and Roger Dean were the big influence here.

I would say that Rick Griffin has been massively influential in graphic art — lettering, fonts, typefaces, logos and even tattoos and graffiti!

I would go further and state that Griffin has been one of the most powerful and influential artists that have ever lived.

If you think about it, there is a close association between bands like The Grateful Dead, and bikers like the Hell’s Angels.  An entire sub-culture has adopted Griffin’s skulls and lettering — for decorating vans, motorcycle petrol tanks, helmets, leather jackets, tattoos and graffiti.  This has bled into today’s diverse scenes — such as from Hip Hop to Marilyn Manson — from Rappers and Sk8ers to Goths, and Moshers. The biker theme has moved into heavy metal, and Griffin himself worked on album art for bands like The Cult.

  • UPDATE: 2009-05-12: Just this year, Rick Griffin is THE designer accessory in the world of fashionable shoes for BMX, Moto-X, and Snowboarding — check out Vans and Vault — especially Vans.Vault 2009 Collection.

[Picture of Grateful Dead cover art]I can even see stuff Griffin did that must have influenced HR Geiger (and therefore the style of Alien films and loads of Science Fiction). Monochromatic, filled with skulls and bones, yet somehow mechanised by being in mechanised scenarios, if you see what I mean.

Oddly enough, especially when you consider all of the above, what Rick griffin did next was a real surprise — he became a Jesus freak!  This caused a great fuss in the comic book and album art world at the time — not a lot of people could get their heads round that one.

Here’s an interesting article about Griffin as a Christian Comic Artist — at:- christiancomicsinternational.org/griffin_pioneer. Strangely enough, another hero of mine — Dudley D Watkins was a huge cultural figure, comic artist and Christian comic artist.  Weird.

A really good gallery site is maintained here: myraltis.co.uk/rickgriffin/

Finally, and even though Rick was killed on his Harley back in 1991, he somehow still has an “official” website: rickgriffinink.com/

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