There are some epic comic book artists out there in the world, true legends who produced some of the most iconic artwork of all time. I’ve always wondered if any big name comic book artists were employed by rock bands to make album covers? Let’s face it, one of the most important things as a musician is having an unforgettable album cover. So I did a little research of my own to see who, if any, throughout time had actually enlisted these talents! Here’s what I found!
Mark Texiera: Public Enemy, Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess Age (1994)
Texiera takes a break from the pages of comic books to spice up Public Enemy’s 1994 release with an awesome LP cover. This is a great example of how wise it is to hire a comic book artist to craft a freakin’ masterpiece cover for your band.
Barry Windsor Smith: The Byrds, Preflyte (1973)
Barry is easily one of the greatest comic book artists of all time, who the hell wouldn’t ask the guy to do the art work for their record? This one though was a real surprise I had no idea he dabbled in the music genre with his skills!
Bob Camp: Newcleus Jam On Revenge (1984)
Bob Camp did some great work with Marvel Comics in the eighties on titles like The ‘Nam, Conan the Barbarian and G.I. Joe. But what a lot of people forget is that he actually did this iconic cover art for rap supergroup Newcleus!
John Byrne: Joe Satriani, Surfing With The Alien (1987)
Superstar comic book artist John Byrne’s rendering of the Silver Surfer was used for Joe Satriani’s most famous guitar rock album. Apparently no one talked to him about using the artwork and apparently he remains uncredited in the album liner notes!
Todd Mcfarlane: Korn, Follow the Leader (1998)
I’ve gotta say I’ve never liked Korn, at all. In fact I can admit that I actually hate their music. But when I found out they hired Todd McFarlane to do the cover art for their album they won me over just a little bit..
Bill Sienkiewicz: RZA, Bobby Digital in Stereo (1998)
Getting Bill to do your cover artwork Is probably about the wisest thing you could do for your damn musical career. The guy is a living legend and one of the best cover artists in all comic book history! He nails it for RZA!
Richard Corben: Meatloaf, Bat Out of Hell (1977)
Corben is responsible for some of the grittiest comic book art out there! He hits a home run here with Meatloaf’s ‘Bat Out of Hell’. Recently I had to come to my own conclusion about Meatloaf, and I find myself in the same frame of mind as I did with Korn. NOT A FAN! But still Meatloaf wins me over employing Corben to make this iconic album cover…
Vincent Locke: Cannibal Corpse, Butchered at Birth (1991)
Legendary gore artist extraordinaire, Vincent Locke is best know for his crazy artwork for 80s horror comic Deadworld. With his unforgettable awesome LP cover for Cannibal Corpse he essentially just drew a cover for Deadworld and slapped on their logo and somehow created a truly gore-tas-tic metal massacre masterpiece!
Alex Ross: Anthrax, We’ve Come for You All (2003)
Mr. Ross is a true legend and Anthrax made an excellent choice in getting him on deck to craft this beautifully mysterious album cover. Ross is in league of his own and this adds more proof of that bold claim.
Jamie Hewlett: Senseless Things, The First of Too Many (1991)
An amazing power pop punk album from the Senseless Things! This one was in heavy rotation for me when I was in high school. I didn’t make the connection until recently that this artist went on to produce the iconic Tank Girl comic book series!
Brian Bolland: Beautiful Happiness (1988)
Who’d have ever thought that Brian Boland, comic book artist extraordinaire, most well known for Batman: The Killing Joke, was a punk at heart? Easily one of my favorite comic book artists/cover artists of all time, this shows his true skill in crafting the ultimate punk rock compilation cover!
Legendary epic power metal band Iron Maiden has just dropped a brand new god damn song called ‘The Writing on the Wall’ which is accompanied by a brand new fully animated video that channels the cult classic style of the 1980’s movie ‘Heavy Metal’!
This 7 and a 1/2 minute long fully animated music video showcases a post apocalyptic distopian future with warring global factions hellbent on ending all civilization. It also features plenty of action, cyborgs, monsters and ghostly motorcycle riding wraiths. All with a soundtrack by the epic band. It also features their mascot Eddie in a battle to the death against the evil forces that plague the planet! At this point we can only speculate and hope that a new album is right around the corner- Maiden fans rejoice!
I love a great 80’s flick and I love it when I see something from the era that’s somehow eluded me throughout the years. So I was pretty stoked to get a copy of 1989’s Blue Vengeance on Blu Ray, a movie I’d never even heard of until recently. How the heck was that possible? Well from what I understand the movie was never given a proper domestic vhs or dvd release back in the day so I’m giving myself a pass for being clueless this time on this one!
That being said, let’s get to it! Ok if you’re a fan of 80’s metal and underground music in general you’re going to immediately find something to love about this movie. Not only is the deranged psychopathic villain a full on metal head, but he’s basically triggered into a serial killing spree of former band members whom he proclaims have “sold out”. I dig his motivation, as I’ve never heard of a slasher with passion for metal ideals like this dude! He seems also totally obsessed with his old band’s song lyrics as well, like they’re the damn holy grail writings of satan himself! He escapes from prison and heads off to NYC to raise some hell and then jam some riffs in his old bedroom at his mom’s place before going on his poser killing spree. Then there’s a cop who’s got PTSD who jumps on the case, leading him to some cool indie hot spots like CBGB’S where punk rock band The Lunachicks are on stage performing was quite a pleasant surprise.
There the cop meets a young female punk who attempts to help him crack the case of the metal maniac killer roaming the streets. Yeah, Blue Vengeance has got some pretty fun and colorful characters at it’s core that bring a certain odd charm to the whole viewing experience. The killer has delusions of being stuck in some midieval fantasy of swords and sorcery that drive his rampage further down a rabid rabbit hole. While the cop and his underage punk rocker sidekick have a sort of weird romantic relationship going on that somehow works without getting too creepy. The movie’s pretty cool on it’s own as a basic low budget 80’s cop thriller with some strong horror themes for most of it’s duration but it really ramps things up in it’s glorious final act. That’s when things go in ultimately ridiculous directions in it’s final showdown and it’s well worth the wait. There’s some surprising moments of gore to behold here as well and some really entertaining dialogue, while none of it can be taken too seriously, I truly admire how surprisingly straight it’s all played. Check this one out, I think it’s on Amazon Prime now and also available on blu ray! A great hidden late 80’s gem!
I absolutely love seeing lost gems from the 1980’s, which is hands down my favorite era of cinema. So my excitement level upon seeing 1983’s ‘Rock and Rule’ was through the roof. I’m surprised honestly it took this damn long for it to materialize on my tv screen, being a big fan of hand drawn animation, it was a breath of fresh air in the CGI heavy era of today. Rock and Rule feels like the perfect companion piece to the cult classic ‘Heavy Metal’. It’s full of amazing music, the likes of Debbie Harry, Lou Reed, Cheap Trick, Iggy Pop & Earth Wind and Fire provide the soundtrack here, but more so are also the providing the songs that the characters perform in the movie.
This Canadian post apocalyptic tale of rock and roll adventure, follows the exploits of an evil & powerful rockstar named “Mok” who’s looking to unleash a demonic force from another dimension to aid him in ruling the entire planet. In order to do so though he needs to find the perfect voice that can hit the that special pitch, to enable the magical portal to open. The heroes of the movie are a band of human/animal hybrid mutants who perform in struggling rock band at dive bars all over the city. When Mok is out on the town one evening he witnesses a performance by them and sets his sights on the female vocalist of the band named “Angel”. Her jealous bandmate/co-vocalist Omar feels betrayed when the evil rocker invites her to his mansion on the outskirts of town. Soon it’s evident Mok has sinister plans for Angel, which sends Omar, along with the rest of his band on a fantastic journey to try and rescue her from his evil clutches. However it may be Omar & the band who actually end up needing to be saved.
This one’s just a ton of dazzling fun to watch, the story might be a bit flimsy but the musical numbers & the spectacular animated sequences more than provide enough enticing eye candy to keep the pace swiftly moving. The songs are a treat as well and were crafted especially for the movie, in fact some of the lyrics written actually influenced it’s plot. It’s quite interesting to see the passion some of the people like Lou Reed & Iggy Pop had going into this project as well as how much work different animators put into the different characters giving them their own unique look and movement. The color bursts off the screen with that iconic 80’s neon and the action sequences and animated band performances are truly epic to behold. The movie ignites a true nostalgia for simpler times bringing the tail end of the 1970’s on a collision course with classic 80’s movie magic. I can only dream of how much fun this must have been to see in a theater in 1983. Continue reading
Here’s a pretty interesting little tale of midieval monster revenge, 2019’s ‘The Head Hunter’, a short & sweet little film that clocks in just a hair over 70 minutes in length. We follow a lonely barbarian who’s daughter is snatched up and killed by a monster that roams the nearby wilderness. We see clearly from the inside of his crude living quarters that he revels in killing monsters by his collection of their heads and this time it appears that the conflict is deeply personal. What’s most intriguing is just how simple the plot here is, there’s really only one actor in the whole film if I remember correctly, aside from a brief appearance of his daughter (and maybe a monster or two).
It gives it’s majority of run time featuring the barbarian all by his lonesome and really for the most part ignores his beast hunting almost entirely, only to reveal the aftermath prize of monster heads he brings home every now and again. Though light on the action, it still remains quite an effective slow burn. It takes a brief moment to reveal a world that’s much more fantastic and magical than what we’re mostly shown in a great scene where the barbarian quietly observes a giant troll (who looks pulled straight out of ‘Trollhunter’) towering past a mountain range.
Luckily the film wisely chose a short run time, as it does indeed skimp a bit on showing us any real action at least for most of it’s duration. It instead focuses more on a depressed warrior in solitude, who’s haunted by his daughters death and then late at night, creatures who lurk near his secluded forest home. Whatever budget the movie did have was used wisely with great locations, costuming and effective but subtle monster fx. We really feel the depression, heartbreak and loneliness of the barbarian and all of that set up makes the film’s simple but stunning finale all the more worth the wait. Add to that, a great twist to the whole story that wraps this tale up in a nice nasty bow. When the final confrontation occurs it goes some truly dark places with a creature that at first glance appears as if it’s barely a match for rough and tumble “Conan” style brawler.
For such a short and simple movie it was a real treat, as I’ve never seen a sword and sorcery style flick take this approach to monster slaying. Pretty impressive coming from the guy who directed “Thankskilling & Thankskilling 3” as well as the short film “Critters: Bounty Hunter” from 2014, none of which I’ve seen. After seeing The Head Hunter though I just might give ’em a shot. Check this one out if you dig stuff like Conan the Barbarian, don’t expect a grand spectacle and you’re probably going to enjoy this sweet little tale of revenge quite a bit.
Let’s face it folks, we all love a good Rock n’ Roll horror flick, especially during the halloween season! There are a lot of good ones out there and many of them feature small cameos from rock stars BUT there’s actually not that many that actually feature them in lead or substantial roles in these “terrifying” movies. I here at Universal Dork tho, have decided to give you the top 10 rock and roll horror movies that actually star real rock stars!! So let’s not waste anytime messin’ around and get to it! Less talk more ROCK!! Here are some odd movies that famous rockers decided to risk their careers on!!!
10. Nick Knight / AKA Midnight Cop (1989)
Hey you remember ‘Jesse’s Girl’ right? Yep, easily one o’ the best pop songs of the 80’s in my opinion! Well 80’s icon Rick Springfield also had an acting career as well and when he wasn’t appearing on General Hospital he made some cheezy ass movies, one being this horror flick called ‘Nick Knight’ aka ‘Midnight Cop’! Yep Springfield stars as the hunky vampire detective on the dangerous case of his undead life, this movie was later remade into the first couple episodes of the tv series ‘Forever Knight’! Dig this stunning vampiric Rick-o-riffic movie montage!
9. Halloween Resurrection (2002)
Here’s one of the worst movies of the ‘Halloween’ franchise, it took the finale of H20 and made it into some stupid sort of ridiculous “Scooby Doo” style plot twist. However this one makes the list because we get some “rockstar action” with Busta Rhymes, one of the main characters in it who goes toe to toe with Michael Myers in the finale and fuckin’ wins! I dig that at least!
8. Monster Dog (1984)
Here’s an totally odd little Italian flick called ‘Monster Dog’ from 1984 that stars superstar rocker Alice Cooper in the lead role!! The movie honestly ain’t that good but it’s a must watch for anyone looking to see Alice in more than a freaky cameo. Monster Dog is a subpar 80’s werewolf film, it starts off pretty cool but quickly begins to feel a lot longer than it’s short 84 minute run time. It’s got a couple decent werewolf scenes, cool poster art and a totally sweet ass Cooper track called ‘Identity Crisis’ that makes this one at least worth a view! Fuck yeah!
7. Slaughterhouse Rock (1988)
Another odd 80’s movie with totally classic box art and co stars pop star Toni Basil who dominated the charts in 1982 with her mega hit song ‘Hey Mickey’. This one’s worth a watch for that alone and has a cool soundtrack “featuring” Devo. This follows some teenagers trying to remove a curse, travel to Alcatraz and get some help from a cute 80’s ghost played by Basil. The trailer below actually makes the movie look pretty rad, but it’s one of those “best of” moments trailers, so if you check it out you’ll likely be a bit disappointed with how bland the movie quickly becomes. Still worth a watch for the pure cheez factor it all and a cool dance scene by Basil!
There was a time when zombies were fucking awesome & not like how they are “awesome” today. That time was way back in the 70’s & 80’s before everyone and their mom and dad were watching ‘The Walking Dead’. Today the zombie craze has brought us countless shitty zombie movies, comic books & merch but back in the 80’s all of the zombie mayhem was quite a bit more underground. I was watching Frank Henenlotter’s ‘Brain Damage’ last night with a group of people and noticed someone in the movie was reading ‘Deadworld’. I was surprised that no one in the group had ever even heard of the comic book. I’ve blogged several times in the past about the book which still remains my favorite zombie comic of all time (at least the first 12 issues or so). Deadworld is punk as fuck and featured some truly stunning undead art from the gore master Vincent Locke who’s done artwork for bands like Cannibal Corpse. The 1986 book featured a prominent villain simply referred to as ‘King Zombie’ and his gang of undead who’ve developed intelligence while still lusting for flesh. He was a total badass who cruised around on his motorcycle and terrorized a gang of teens who’s bus broke down on a desolate highway. The books a treasure trove of totally amazing, legit zombie tattoo designs by the way. There’s been a collection done pretty recently of all of the old issues and they even tried to reboot it a some years back. I suggest hunting those down, they’re a unique read and embody the dirty grit of grindhouse 80’s style zombie flick to perfection. This was the issue featured in ‘Brain Damage’ it remains today one of my favorite pieces of zombie art to date!
And of course here’s ‘King Zombie’…..
A monumental time for me as a huge fan of The Incredible Hulk (R.I.P.) was back in 2001 when the ‘Banner’ limited series was released and the artwork was handled by the legend Richard Corben! I most remember him in my youth as being an artist on badass comic magazines like Eerie & Heavy Metal but really he’s been around forever producing some of the most unique artwork around. Well the ‘Banner’ limited series was a knockout made especially for die hard Hulk fans. This is a perfect example of the the kind of classic Hulk stories I’d like to read in 2016. It’s a full on battle between Banner and his alter ego as we finally explore the damage an enraged Hulk puts on the population of innocent civilians. It also featured Doc Samson, one of my favorite characters in the Hulk’s world getting serious about taking out the Jade Giant one and for all. It’s a gritty no B.S. story by Brian Azzarello and Corben’s artwork is absolutely perfect. Put down your ‘Totally Awesome Hulk’ for a moment and see what a real Hulk story looks like!
This week I had the great pleasure to see the legendary Jon Mikl Thor live right here in Portland Oregon! But that wasn’t all, before he hit the stage he gave us all a screening of the new documentary “I am Thor”!!
Some of you might not even know who Thor is but if you like 80’s metal and 80’s horror flicks then there’s a good chance you’ve heard of this guy. To me, my first introduction to him was in the cult favorite flick ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare’ and this one really has got to be seen to be believed. It’s one of the best cheezy 80’s flicks of all time. Don’t believe me check this shit out:
Anyway to make a long story short, Jon Mikl Thor was a successful body builder who fronted the band Thor way back in 1973. He looked like a real life version of the Marvel Comics character or heck he could easily have passed as He-Man as well!
He really never achieved the success he’d always wanted and spent most of the 70’s and 80’s touring the world. He had a short career in B-movies as well and in 1997 he decided to pick up the hammer again and rock the world as Thor one more time.
The documentary covers this and so much more and is filled the heart and determination of a man who’s willing to defy the odds for the sheer love of Rock & Roll. It follows his rise and fall as well as his quest to return to the stage years later. In many ways it’s quite similar to another excellent documentary about another Canadian metal band called Anvil. If you want a dynamic double feature I highly recommend “I Am Thor” and “Anvil: The Story of Anvil” they will inspire you to never give up on your dreams.
We get a lot of great info on Jon Mikl Thor as well, one interesting thing was learning that he was originally asked by Jerry Only from the Misfits to front the 90’s version of the band before eventually getting Michale Graves to replace Danzig. Man, how awesome would a Thor fronted version of The Misfits have been?!! Well to me it sounds awesome.
If you get a chance check this movie out, it’s a lot of fun and by the end of it you’ll feel like you really know the guy personally. I guess that’s one reason why I had such a good time at the show, after the movie we got to see Thor rock again with a full band. Though he doesn’t have the long hair or ultra ripped body that he used to he’s still got the pipes and at age 62 he’s got a ton of great energy. It was a real treat seeing a band playing that style of metal and while not fully familiar with all of his music (mainly because I didn’t own any of it personally yet), when I attended the show by the end of his set I couldn’t get his power metal anthems out of my head.
I knew I had to go much deeper into the music and film career of John Mikl Thor! He’s a true character who never gave up on his dreams and though his shows don’t sell out you can see how much this guy truly appreciates every person in attendance. It was a night that still has me smiling days later. It takes a very special person to make you feel that in this day and age. Long live Thor, you’re still the number one Warrior of the Universe in my opinion…
Iron Maiden is the best metal band of all time and they’re back with a new album ready to drop! “Book of Souls” will be out on September 4th of this year and I’m totally pumped for it! I’m even more pumped to see them live again as they’re easily one of the best live bands out there despite the band forming way back in 1975. These guys have more spastic energy than most bands in their twenties and blend a good amount of amazing theatrics into their live shows. So now Maiden returns, a band not guilty as selling out or changing their sound like bands like Metallica remain guilty of doing. Nope Maiden has kept their sound true for the most part their entire career.
They’ve got a brand new song called ‘Speed of Light’ that just so happens to haveT cool new video to go along with it. This one’s a classic style Iron Maiden power metal anthem! They’ve still got the metal magic so check this one out as their mascot ‘Eddie’ decides to hit the arcade and literally ends up being sucked inside of the video games!! I’m so pumped on this!!