Giving at the Office: Palitoy’s Action Man

So this week we’re each going to talk about a toy from Christmas past that one of the other guys has figuratively “gifted” us. I volunteered Richard to be my secret Santa because I expected a gift so quintessentially representative of the forlorn British ’70s of his youth that I could simply rag on him and his homeland for a few paragraphs…

Apocalypse, Rinse, Repeat: The Graphic Experience of Greg Irons’ ‘Light’

Despite a tragically short life, and despite still being almost completely unknown, Greg Irons has exerted an extraordinary influence on the course of underground and mainstream comics, graphic design, and the tattoo world, where he is regularly cited as a legend. Irons was born in Philadelphia in 1947 and moved to San Francisco during 1967’s Summer of Love, where he immediately found work designing event posters for music promoter Bill Graham…

‘Callan’: Television’s First Anti-Establishment Spy Series

By Joseph Oldham

He was a working-class loner, with roots in the social realist British New Wave of the late 1950s and early 1960s—plays, novels, and films associated with the “angry young men” exploring the very class tensions that Wilson’s “New Britain” had ostensibly smoothed over. Callan occupied a violent and grubby world, with one foot in the sinister bureaucracy of a professional intelligence service, and another in the criminal underworld of London…

Deep Sea Soundings: Walt Rockman’s ‘Underwater: Vol. 1’

By K.E. Roberts

A lush selection of library and ambient music—the two often overlap—attempts to evoke the ocean in its many guises, an artistic practice that goes back in the West to the tone poems and symphonic sketches of classical composers from Beethoven to Debussy. After World War II, the orchestrations of what came to be known as exotica, a subset of lounge music, attempted to capture the enchanted South Seas…

Inventing Sci-Fi Noir: Jim Steranko’s ‘Outland’

When Heavy Metal published 1979’s stand-alone Alien: The Illustrated Story to coincide with the release of Ridley Scott’s now-canonical sci-fi horror, no one knew what a “graphic novel” was. The adaptation, with frequently gruesome art by Walt Simonson and words by Archie Goodwin, was strikingly innovative while remaining true to Dan O’Bannon’s screenplay, and it soon landed on the New York Times Best Seller list…

Bob Peak Promotional Art for ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’, 1983

Although the extraordinary theatrical poster for Disney’s Something Wicked This Way Comes was illustrated by David Grove, Bob Peak painted these equally impressive pieces that, as far as I know, were never used. Peak, of course, was one of the finest commercial illustrators of the 20th century, and he virtually defined the visual concept of the modern film poster, starting with his colorful montage for 1961’s West Side Story