In the late 1990’s I had just graduated high school and I was visiting my parents in Los Angeles, I was in a used bookstore but I forgot which one. This bookstore was a bookstore for weirdos, people like me and you. Having a little money I had to make up my mind between a bunch of cool books, underground comics, magazines and zines, I was sweating. This was before the internet was widespread and nobody had a smartphone and here I was sweating my late teen nuts off. On one hand I had a book of nudes hot chicks with piercings in different place, the title of the book escapes me now but I was old enough to buy it, then there was the current issue of “Blab”, a book on unusual fetishes that had me in stitches laughing, the first mention I’d ever seen of “Furries” and “An Ode to Joy” by Frank Kozik. After awhile I had it narrowed down to the nude pierced chicks and “An Ode to Joy”. I knew if I didn’t choose soon my mom was gonna call the police thinking I’d been murdered and dumped somewhere in the Los Angeles River and a scene would be made, I didn’t want a scene to be made. “An Ode to Joy” popped out at me, a insane, psychedelic, nightmarish cartoon brew of retro pop culture screwed, slewed, brewed and tattooed, on the other hand I had forgotten my Penthouses at my apartment in upper Northern California, and being a young guy I had blue balls and a can of Vaseline. My dick won out, soon, however that pierced chick book got lost, I’ve been through two house fires, three crazy ex girlfriends who destroyed my stuff and numerous moves, in between those incidents it was lost but all through the years, “An Ode to Joy” stuck in my head like a icky, sticky pop song, except this is one song I wanted to hear. Years ago I finally got a copy and lost that copy, then I bought another one, for pierced chicks I can just go to Pornhub now.
I lived through the brunt of the “alternative movement” of the 1990’s, the “I don’t give a fuck, everything sucks” Generation X coming of age where a lot of cool music, art and other things got spawned. Us Gen Xer’s were raised on pop culture, some of us without the aid of church and religion made cartoons, b movies, underground music, old TV shows etc. the religion and it was later satirized. I can’t think of a bigger embodiment of that than the work of Frank Kozik, who was owner of Man’s Ruin Records, Frank actually started out doing poster art and other work as an artist in San Francisco. Man’s Ruin released mainly Alternative Stoner rock/metal and punk acts, Frank illustrated most, if not all of the covers for the bands on his label not to mention their posters. He also did posters for bands that went on to become big, Nirvana, Green Day, Soundgarden etc.
The book is hardbound and the posters are reproduced with eye piercing color on slick paper, in this book you’ll get cute animals with knives and axes through their heads, a drunk Yogi Bear, 1950’s children’s books where the kids are cannibals, the Japanese army cheering over the remains of the Statue of Liberty and other mind twisting, nut tweaking images. “Man’s Ruin” has released some of favorite bands, chief among them being “The Fuckemos”.
Frank’s got two more books I’d like to get my greasy paws on “Man’s Ruin: Posters and Art” and “Desperate Measures”. Frank’s work also appealed to me being raised on various cartoons where animorphic animals would blow the shit out of each other, except in Frank’s world you get to see the blood, there is no shaking off of the bomb going off, you see the bloody pieces in close up, ridiculous detail. Any retro pop culture aficionado will be able to pick up on different pieces he satirizes and he mixes different stuff in his art.
As I’ve mentioned before you’ll see posters for bands who are famous, yet to be famous or only bands that you and couple of friends know. Sometimes Frank will chime in with an anecdote of how he got the idea for the poster or some nonsense that isn’t even related to the piece in question. Frank keeps you on your feet, the guy has a twisted sense of humor.
So if you want a little taste of 1990’s alternative culture, visual style, this book is a good place to start, there is copies out there that are within your reach money wise but that might change so go snap them up while you can.