May 25, 2021


 Greetings, Spy Vibers! It's been an intense spring at school. My art students all finished their final critiques and celebrations today and I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel! It was a marathon year that started in early August and just never let up. We've still got finals, graduation, and too many days of meetings next week, and then I hope I can recharge my batteries quickly and make new progress on the Spy Vie book. I hope everyone out there has been having a great spring and enjoying some nice weather. And perhaps you have some new sense of security, as vaccines and guidelines help us to keep on keeping on! One of the sources of joy for me lately has been to reconnect with my boyhood passion for sci-fi and I've enjoyed re-exploring stuff like classic Star Trek and Buck Rogers TV, as well as the big game-changer from 1977, Star Wars! In my upcoming segment on Cocktail Nation radio this month, I talk about the millennial resurgence of Mid-Century Lounge and Easy Listening music. There were so many projects around at that time that not only reissued classic LPs and soundtracks, but we also saw musicians link Combustible Edison performing Henry Mancini scores and composers like Nicola Conte sampling and referencing 1960s Italian soundtracks in his modern Lounge-Jazz records. More on that later! Another trend that came hand in glove with Lounge during that period was the re-emergence of low-brow art and pop surrealism. Artists like Shag brought Tiki and Lounge culture to life in vibrant colors, depicting a Jet-Set lifestyle amidst Mid-Century Modern decor. The pop surrealists and designer toy companies really cooked up some fun projects by issuing customized edition- Kid Robot perhaps being one the most visible. Well, that brings me back to Star Wars. George Lucas' imaginative universe inspired so many creative responses in the art and toy communities. When I moved to the Bay Area from Vermont, Super7 was still in my fave neighborhood, Japantown, and it was great to see how properties like Star Wars (and Godzilla!) were informing new designs and artful expressions. One of the cool projects to emerge during that era was The Vader Project, which invited 100 underground artists and designer toy stars to bring their unique visions to the Vader helmet. From the press release: "The Vader Project is a reimagining of the iconic Darth Vader helmet curated by Dov Kelemer and Sarah Jo Marks of DKE Toys. Kelemer and Marks gathered close to 100 of the hottest underground and pop surrealist painters, artists, and designers to participate. For this unique project each artist was given a 1:1 scale authentic prop replica of the actual Darth Vader helmet used in the STAR WARS films. The helmets served as a blank canvas for each artist to paint, design, mash up, and customize." Some of the artists included ShagTim BiskupGary Baseman, Brian Flynn (Super7), Paul FrankGargamelTokidoki, and Ugly Doll. I have the 1st edition of the Freeman's Auction catalog (2010) and a few designs caught my eye while flipping through the pages today. With Spy Vibers in mind, these were: Niagra's Pop/OP Art version "Can I Help it if I'm in Love?", David Krysdsk's "Darth Fink," modeled after the classic Rat Fink characters, and Peter Kuper's "Spy Vader Spy," based on Antonio Prohias' classic espionage satire cartoon, Spy Vs. Spy, in MAD magazine. Looking at the samples below, it's fun to see how pop culture can be reimagined in new contexts to create artistic statements that are both celebratory tributes as well as imaginative and unique creations. I hope you enjoy!

Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Chris Barber LegacyPhantom RetrospectiveAstro-ManCheck in with Japanese book designsSpy Vibe Radio: BatmanJames Bond LexiconRay CathodeSpy Vibe Radio: Johnny StaccatoMatt Helm BluCold War AuctionAvengers Francavilla PrintsAvengers 60th EventIrma Vep BluAvengers Keel DesignRonnie Scott's DocThe Avengers 60th DesignNew YearArt of Pan BooksJohn Le Carre R.I.P.Sean Connery R.I.P.New 007 VinylBurke's Law SkaDieter Rams Complete2-Tone DocSpy Vibe Radio: Vendetta Part 2Diana Rigg R.I.P.Moog Micky DolenzBeetle Bailey 70thRSD Spies VinylIan Fleming TributeFellini Box SetSpy Vibe Radio: VendettaThe Saint Podcast BonusThe Saint PodcastBarber LotusDiana Rigg at 82Trad RootsMorricone R.I.P.Fleetway Spy DesignsJohn Steel CasebooksPaul at 78ITC Podcast: The PersuadersDazzle ShipsSpy Vibe Radio: RaumpatrouilleRemembering Richard SalaCrime & Spy Jazz booksSoviet Space GraphicsNuman is FABBruce Lee BluJohn Barry EventRSD Vinyl SpiesJames Bond's DB5UFO CD SetSpy Vibe radio: Phantom AgentsSteranko is Revolutionary!Interview: The Saint I Ain'tDiabolik InterviewNew 007 SongDiabolik FiguresDiabolik SoundsDiabolik Set DesignDiabolik Park RideDanger Diabolik BluCount Arthur StrongHoney West Title CardsBowie DayNew Year CosmonautsNeil Innes R.I.P.Claudine Auger R.I.P.OHMSS at 50Italian Job 50th OSTCharles Schulz ModernPaul DesmondPython 50thRandall Hopkirk 50thThunderbirds DayLazenby Returns to MI6Dr. John R.I.P.Spy Vibe Radio: Lupin IIILupin SkaSpy Vibe PrimeZigomar TranslationThe Village: Part 1Monkey Punch R.I.P.Bubble Girl 63ITC SoundtracksSpy Vibe Radio: Public EyeUFO PrimeSpaceship to MarsModesty Blaise CompanionSpy Vibe Radio: FantomasGeorge DayFantomas BluDark Shadows DocBedazzled Blu-rayMary Quant ExhibitLaika CalypsoLost in Space JapanSpy Dust CalypsoAtomic CafeJohn Barry MonoInterview: John Barry BookLand of the Giants ScoreSkyfall ConcertDearest EmmaSpy Vibe Radio: UppersevenOgilvy at ElstreeMabuse PropagandaBond Beatles DaySpy Vibe Radio: LiquidatorDiabolik LPFab DressesEurospy Music CollectionBeetle Bailey in West BerlinWhy Mort Walker?Spy Vibe radio: The Beatles Help!Avengers Critical GuideThe SpotnicksBenny SpiesJames Pond 0017'Satire StonesAnnette Andre BookCat DaySpy Vibe Radio: Get SmartCaine: My GenerationInterview: Ian OgilvyHorror of Party BeachSylvie Vartan RenownRingo At 78Dark Shadows StripsSpy Vibe Radio: FlintArchie Batman 66Paul at 76Beatles Pac-ManSpy Vibe Radio: Jerry CottonThe Invaders007 Horowitz Book TourMcGoohan/Prisoner Event at ElstreeThe Prisoner Interviews Vol 1British Underground PressInterview: Fab4 ManiaBond Cocktail BookBond at BletchleySpy SmasherSpy Vibe Radio: Peter GunnAgent Zero MNew Prisoner ComicDr. No Villains EditionSpy Vibe Radio: Danger DiabolikDr. No 60thOy-Oy-SevenSpy Vibe Radio (UFO)Cold War Comic StripsThunderball EventMission to IndiaMort Walker CelebrationPeter Wyngarde CelebrationBatman 66 ExhibitPrisoner Fifty EventIan Fleming Publications 2017-2018Interview: Ed Hulse PulpAvengers Audio DramaInterview: Callan At 50Interview: Playboys, Spies, Private EyesTWA ReturnsSpy Vibe Radio 8Interview: Ryan HeshkaMid-Century Modern SchulzAgent WerewolfJohnny Sokko 50thInterview: Trina RobbinsEddie IzzardThe Prisoner Capt Scarlet 50thHugh Hefner R.I.P.Jack Good R.I.P.Interview: Shaken Not StirredCallan 50thSpy Vibe Radio 7The Prisoner 50th EventSpy-Fi EventKaho Aso 007Two MillionBo DiddleyCarnaby PopLe Carre EventsBilly Bragg SkiffleElvis 68Jack Kirby The PrisonerCasino Royale ConcertReview: The Prisoner Vol 2Interview: The Prisoner Essential GuideMaud Russell MottisfontSpy Vibe Radio 4Batman GallantsAdam West R.I.P.Village TriangleRoger Moore R.I.P.Spy Vibe Radio 3Sgt Pepper 50thSatanik Kriminal OST60s OverdriveMake Love in LondonSpy Vibe Radio 2Spy Vibe Radio 1James Bond StripsPropaganda MabuseInterview: Police SurgeonXTC Avengers1966 Pep SpiesBatman Book InterviewExclusive Fleming InterviewAvengers Comic StripsRobert Vaughn RIPUNCLE FashionsThunderbirds Are Pop!, Interview: Spy Film GuideLost Avengers FoundThe Callan FileMission Impossible 50thGreen Hornet 50thStar Trek 50thPortmeirion Photography 1Filming the PrisonerGaiman McGinnins ProjectIan Fleming GraveRevolver at 50Karen Romanko InterviewMod Tales 2Umbrella Man: Patrick MacneeNew Beatles FilmThe Curious CameraEsterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama Review.