White Noise on Paper: “An Ode to Joy” by Frank Kozik is what you get.

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.


White Noise on Paper: Have an “Horrorgasmo” on me.

“Horrorgasmo: Psychotic Art For New Mutants” could only be vomited forth from the minds of Italians. The same nation that gave us Fulci, Bava and Argento also gave us this “art book” in limited quantities and the reason why I put quotation marks around art book is because I doubt the four people contained in this book, as well as the editor, want their names associated with the art scene of the late 1990’s to early 2000’s as full of itself as it was.

Limited to 999 copies (I have copy 944) you can tell a lot of this stuff was inspired by the great Charles Burns. Alessandro Papa had a comics shop in Italy called “Mondo Bizzarro” and he seems to be the one that put this volume together, he said in 1997 that Stefano Zattera, one of the artists in the book, came into drop off some zines he had put together, Papa said he thumbed through them and was blown away and in his words the zine was packed with “Posters of incredibly strange imaginary B movies, demented strips, “sick” and ultra extreme cartoons, all drawn with great technical ability in classic comic style. It was as if some ageing  maestro of the American pop era had sold their soul to the devil.”

Zattera’s alien cow girl rides!

In another one of the zines that Papa leafed through was the art of Dast whose work is also in the book and was very impressed and Dast ended up having Zattera design the cover of his own Healter Skelter magazine. A year later Papa met Dast and Zattera at their “Horrorgasm” exhibition consisting of the aforementioned artists, Spiderjack and the veteran Italian cartoonist Gianmaria Liani. That is when Papa decided that these artists couldn’t stay hidden from the world and that they needed their own book which is “Horrorgasmo”.

Liani takes a bite out of you!!!

All four artists come from the Veneto region which is a region that is pretty conservative and Catholic, maybe the repression created some deviant artists. Whether you buy that commonly held conception is up to you, maybe its bullshit. The first artist in this book is Stefano Zattera, he is the founder of Delirio Communications, in which he not only publishes his own work but other artist’s work.  His work has appeared in various books and mags, as of now he still does work. Today he calls his work “Apocalyptic Surrealism” in which he still lampoons 1950’s and 1960’s pop culture as well as B movies. His work is in the first part of the book and already you can see his satire of retro junk culture, his art is my favorite in the book. Mutants and aliens fucking in a alternative 1950’s universe where bondage is widely accepted.

Spiderjack attack!!!

Next up in the book is Gianmaria Liani who has done art work for various magazines as well as the American magazine “Malefact”, he has also done his own comics and produced illustrations for the book “LupinIII” and it looks like he still does work and has a few books published underneath his belt. Liani’s work is sado masochistic and involves cannibalism and like Zattera he seems to lampoon retro junk culture. There is part of a comic strip on one page and fake movie poster on another one.

Spiderjack is gonna fuck you up good with his “cute characters” getting sucked, pummeled, stabbed etc. Just like the other artists in this book he has had his stuff published in various Italian magazines and is the author of a trading card book called “Ebryotica” which is just as weird and screwed up as his section in this book.

Dast-ardly deeds down dirt cheap!!!

Last but definitely not least is Dast who is co founder of Delirio Communications along with Zattera who I’ve mentioned release fucked up zines, art and magazines. He has had his work published in various weird art magazines and other places as well as “Malefact” here in the US, and “Stripburger” in Slovakia not much more I can find on him don’t know if he does art nowadays anymore. Any search I tried came up with another Dast who is a musician. Dast’s art consists of stumpy and ugly hermaphrodites sucking, fucking and killing each other so that is that.

This book comes with Italian as well as English texts and the whole thing is in black and white which really makes the visual white noise pop aggressively. This book isn’t for the feint of heart there is debauchery, mutant and tentacle sex and violence. Some pieces lampoon religion, some try to push the boundaries of what is excepted in the art world. Over all sometimes I think this book tries too hard to shock, if this up your alley you aren’t in luck I bought my copy off of Abebooks and now doing a search it is nowhere to be found, it kind of pisses me off when books are released in limited quantities, kind of a hipster thing to do if you ask me. In closing if you wish to have this in your possession good luck finding it.