Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s Monster Car Illustrations

Ed “Big Daddy” Roth was a central figure in the hod rod and custom car scene that flourished in 1950s and early 1960s Southern California. Born in Beverly Hills to German immigrants, Roth grew up in Bell, California, home of “speed shop” Bell Auto Parts and nearby Slauson Avenue, a popular drag strip. After a stretch in the Air Force, Roth became a sign painter at Sears and, in 1958, starting designing cars out of his garage…

Christmas Greeting Cards, 1950 – 1980

Christmas cards became ubiquitous in the post-war era, when millions of Americans retreated to a more secluded existence in the rapidly developing suburbs. As small towns—idealized by Frank Capra and Norman Rockwell, among others—started to be displaced by tract housing complexes and chain stores, embellished scenes of the vanishing idyllic communities became a standard trope on greeting cards…

Judas Priest Album Covers by Doug Johnson, 1982 – 1986

Disappointed with his cover art for their 1980 LP Point of Entry, British heavy metal band Judas Priest decided to part ways with the Polish designer and artist Rosław Szaybo. Szaybo, who had previously created artwork for bands as diverse as Soft Machine and The Clash, had supplied the group with a triptych of memorable album covers whose imagery, particularly that of British Steel, had helped consolidate Priest’s image…

‘Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials’, 1979

The work of what its creator called “a hungry youth with something to prove,” Wayne Barlowe’s 1979 Barlowe’s Guide To Extraterrestrials was published amidst a glut of grimoires of imaginary realities—Wil Huygen’s Gnomes had been released in 1976 and Stewart Cowley’s Spacecraft 2000-2100 AD in 1978, while 1979 saw the release of Cowley’s Aliens in Space: An Illustrated Guide to the Inhabited Galaxy (written under the pseudonym of Steven Caldwell), as well as David Day’s Tolkien Bestiary and Alan Frank’s Galactic Aliens

A Final Outrage: The Album Art of Blue Öyster Cult

By Richard McKenna

Despite the dispiriting fug of “classic rock” that hangs about their name—largely thanks to the persistence in popular culture of the song for which they are best known, the wonderful but largely unrepresentative “Don’t Fear the Reaper—Blue Öyster Cult began life as a high-concept countercultural proposition whose aim was to bring an underground literary and musical sensibility, as well as wit, to the dull, self-indulgent ceremonies of rock…

‘Masquerade’ by Kit Williams, 1979

In 1979, British artist Kit Williams published Masquerade, a picture book telling the story of a hare who loses the precious jewel entrusted to him by the sun. Masquerade contained clues to the location of a golden pendant in the form of a hare that had been buried at a secret location and was worth, at the time of the book’s release, £5,000…

Comic Book Sound Effects, 1939 – 1985

Sequential art goes all the way back to cave paintings, and word balloons start to appear in political cartoons in the late 1700s, but the combination of the two in newspaper comic strips was a late 19th century development, spurred by the “circulation war” between Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal