Dodgem Logic #4


The magazine isn’t out for another couple of weeks but my cover art has been posted to various websites so I can finally show this here. Alan Moore was in touch at the beginning of February asking for a wraparound cover design, the only brief being that he liked my Alice in Wonderland calendar and asked for something equally florid or—for want of a better term—psychedelic. Alan’s magazine owes something to the underground mags of the 1960s and a common feature of those, especially Oz magazine, was a degree of provocation in the choice of cover art. A picture of two boys kissing is nothing more than a show of affection yet to many people the sight still inspires enormous outrage. This was demonstrated a week or so after I’d finished the cover when the Washington Post was deluged by angry letters and emails after they showed a photo of two newly-weds outside the Washington DC Superior Court. People used to have a similar reaction to the sight of a black man kissing a white woman; the only way attitudes change is when something becomes so commonplace it’s no longer worthy of note.


Aside from the politics, this was also an excuse to run riot with more Art Nouveau motifs, especially peacocks and butterflies. The butterfly-winged boys are a nod to the paintings of Yannis Tsarouchis, and this in turn gave me an excuse to borrow from another magazine cover, Frank X Leyendecker’s 1922 painting of The Flapper for Life. Frank X was the brother of the more renowned illustrator JC Leyendecker. Joseph C was known to have been discreetly homosexual; so too was brother Frank according to this article in which case his butterfly woman has an additional resonance.


Having written a lengthy polemic about Roger Dean’s work in January I had the idea of doing the magazine title in his lettering style. I spent the best part of two days working on these as I wanted the result to be as accurate as possible. All the gold parts of the cover shown here are gradients but I made a slightly different version for print which will render those areas in gold ink. I’m looking forward to seeing this printed.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Roger Dean: artist and designer
The art of Yannis Tsarouchis, 1910–1989
Dodgem Logic
Psychedelic Wonderland: the 2010 calendar
Butterfly women

The poster art of Richard Amsel


Hello Dolly (1969); The Sting (1973).
Murder on the Orient Express (1974); Barry Lyndon (1975).

Thanks are due for today’s post to Sebastiane who reminded me of the poster art that Richard Amsel produced through the Seventies up to the mid-Eighties. Together with Bob Peak, Amsel was a major exponent of the illustrated poster, a form that’s now completely vanished from cinema promotion in a sea of floating Photoshop heads and persistently lazy design. Amsel’s most famous piece in terms of success and visibility is probably his Raiders of the Lost Ark poster (and its variants) but I tend to prefer his work from the previous decade.

I collected film posters for a while and have one of Amsel’s Chinatown designs packed away somewhere. The Hello Dolly poster above was his first commission and must count as the first and only time a Spirograph was used (for the flowers) to create a design for a major Hollywood production. The Amsel page at American Art Archives notes that the poster for The Sting is a pastiche of the very popular (and gay) JC Leyendecker whose magazine and advertising art was contemporary with the film’s setting. This is exactly the kind of thing that can’t be done with ease today when the art is predominantly a product of digital techniques.

Amsel died in 1985, an early victim of the AIDS pandemic which possibly explains why there isn’t a site dedicated to his work as there is for Bob Peak. This page features a few examples of Amsel’s other work, however, including his instantly recognisable Divine Miss M album cover for Bette Midler. And there’s a small gallery of his posters at IMP.

Update: A retrospective article and marvellous gallery of Amsel’s work by Adam McDaniel

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Bollywood posters
Lussuria, Invidia, Superbia
The poster art of Bob Peak
A premonition of Premonition
Perfume: the art of scent
Metropolis posters
Film noir posters