Terry Austin draws for Algol (1977)

Most people are familiar with the work of illustrator Terry Austin from his tenure in the comic book industry, most notable in the classic X-Men titles. Not many people are aware of or familiar with his other illustration work for magazines and books such as the contributions to the 1978 printing of I, Alien by J. Michael Reeves.

Illustration for Richard Lupoff’s Book Week column published in Algol #17 (Winter 1977).

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth

Oh, no! Susie Derkins and Mr. Bun have taken an unscheduled trip into the past to when dinosaurs ruled the Earth! Calvin should not have left the keys in the time machine for just anyone to stumble upon but then again he isn’t the most responsible little guy.

I was nostalgic for Calvin and Hobbes so I threw this image together as a lark. The idea that Calvin would just shrug and go play when he discovered his time machine was missing tickled me. Only Hobbes would be likely to show some curiosity or concern when he realized Susie was also nowhere to be found. He would have to badger Calvin into a rescue mission, the result being that both of them would probably get sidetracked by mutants, homework and clones until long after Susie made it back to present day on her own, no thanks to Calvin and his tiger. I just wrote 2 weeks worth of dailies and a full color Sunday strip in my head just now.

All original art elements by Bill Watterson and amateurish cut-and-paste by me. If he sees this I hope he approves.

FREEEEEEE-BIIIIIIIIRD!

This simple drawing on a chopstick wrapper is a fine example of beautiful art under everyone’s noses that is ignored or overlooked. Who could look at this bird taking flight, expressing such joy at quitting the Earth by sheer force of will and remain annoyed or angered or sad? And now, I share it with you. The world is a better place for it. You’re welcome.

Regretfully, the artist that gave so much to the world will probably never be known.

From a local Asian eatery San Diego, 9-3-11.

The Record Bar

Decades ago when people wanted to browse, listen to and purchase music they had to leave the comfort of their home and journey miles away to a large department or specialty store to do so. One of the ploys used by stores to entice shoppers was naming the departments creatively. In some instances the music section was called the Record Bar (a practice that existed prior to the store of the same name). It was a way of differentiating the music department from the staid sections of necessities like shoes and clothing and implied luxury and fun. Hanging a sign that just read “Music Department” was too boring even though over the years stores have returned such naming simplicity even if made in flashing lights or neon. Calling a corner of a department store containing alphabetized shelves of long playing records a “Record Bar” promises fun, excitement and possibly illicit nightclub acts.

Other than branding a department in exciting ways what most promoted sales of LP’s is the usually fascinating and sometimes lurid cover art. The 1950s and 1960s were famous for their cover disconnects, where the artists cleverly relied on sexual imagery to boost sales of polka or lounge music. The greatest disparity in using sex to sell LP’s occurs in those categories of music that one doesn’t normally associate with fun times and parties such as highway motel lounge ensembles, nightclub musicians and organ soloists.

While enough people went out to such places to justify employing them for a few decades no one really wanted to buy their music and take it home with them. Drinking a highball after a hard day of selling reverse-threaded screws to gas stations while decompressing in the orange and aqua booth of a Howard Johnsons doesn’t usually make one wistful for the musical stylings of the guy at the piano that has a mop and bucket in view leaning against the turquoise burlap-covered wall behind him. Those purchases were typically reserved for the headline and more heavily promoted and polished acts that were marketed at the national level. So when browsing the aisles of the Record Bar the tired serf of the Camelot lifestyle had to be promised wild parties and lewd play times by way of a woman with large breasts who worships the man who plays the organ at the local park pavilion on alternating Saturdays.

Gilligan at Retrospace (from whom I ganked a few images) exhaustively details the practice of using sex to sell music and other products. Click the link to check out his entry on Cheesecake Album Covers. He hosts many fine examples and even more links to consumer-baiting LP covers.

The following cartoon by Art Lutner from Bachelor #2 (1961) is a good example of the logical progression of the use of sexual imagery to sell records and would have rung true with most readers of the era.

While Lutner was making a comical statement about using sex to sell children’s LP’s he wasn’t far off from reality. Quite often advertising for children’s products is aimed at the adult who holds the money and has little to do with the content of the purchase.

From the Collection: Glory Lane

Alan Dean Foster rarely delivers a bad read and he typically adds a lot of depth to slim scripts in his adaptations of movies and other shows. His Flinx universe is a favorite of mine even though the publishers have been marketing the series the last few years as Young Adult and not mature science fiction.

Glory Lane is a fun time though it is the cover I find interesting. Not so much for the unique aliens crowding the interstellar bazaar but the fact that on the back cover the bar-codes in the background above the actual fourth wall-breaking UPC code were scribbled out. It’s amusing to think that the publisher was concerned that 1978 scanning technology would have been interfered with by the faux codes in the background. It’s also possible that the UPC labels on the mech-dino would have been the place holder for the actual UPC code given different art direction and layout if a close-up of the tourist transporting walker were discarded in favor of the UPC-toting aliens. If so, good thinking by artist Jim Gurney, planning greater flexibility in his art to decrease chances of rejection or having to repaint the scene.

Glory Lane (1978).