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 Shag, Tim Biskup, Gary Baseman, Brian Flynn (Super7), Paul Frank, Gargamel, Tokidoki, 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!
May 25, 2021
SPY VADER SPY
Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Chris Barber Legacy, Phantom Retrospective, Astro-Man, Check in with Japanese book designs, Spy Vibe Radio: Batman, James Bond Lexicon, Ray Cathode, Spy Vibe Radio: Johnny Staccato, Matt Helm Blu, Cold War Auction, Avengers Francavilla Prints, Avengers 60th Event, Irma Vep Blu, Avengers Keel Design, Ronnie Scott's Doc, The Avengers 60th Design, New Year, Art of Pan Books, John Le Carre R.I.P., Sean Connery R.I.P., New 007 Vinyl, Burke's Law Ska, Dieter Rams Complete, 2-Tone Doc, Spy Vibe Radio: Vendetta Part 2, Diana Rigg R.I.P., Moog Micky Dolenz, Beetle Bailey 70th, RSD Spies Vinyl, Ian Fleming Tribute, Fellini Box Set, Spy Vibe Radio: Vendetta, The Saint Podcast Bonus, The Saint Podcast, Barber Lotus, Diana Rigg at 82, Trad Roots, Morricone R.I.P., Fleetway Spy Designs, John Steel Casebooks, Paul at 78, ITC Podcast: The Persuaders, Dazzle Ships, Spy Vibe Radio: Raumpatrouille, Remembering Richard Sala, Crime & Spy Jazz books, Soviet Space Graphics, Numan is FAB, Bruce Lee Blu, John Barry Event, RSD Vinyl Spies, James Bond's DB5, UFO CD Set, Spy Vibe radio: Phantom Agents, Steranko is Revolutionary!, Interview: The Saint I Ain't, Diabolik Interview, New 007 Song, Diabolik Figures, Diabolik Sounds, Diabolik Set Design, Diabolik Park Ride, Danger Diabolik Blu, Count Arthur Strong, Honey West Title Cards, Bowie Day, New Year Cosmonauts, Neil Innes R.I.P., Claudine Auger R.I.P., OHMSS at 50, Italian Job 50th OST, Charles Schulz Modern, Paul Desmond, Python 50th, Randall Hopkirk 50th, Thunderbirds Day, Lazenby Returns to MI6, Dr. John R.I.P., Spy Vibe Radio: Lupin III, Lupin Ska, Spy Vibe Prime, Zigomar Translation, The Village: Part 1, Monkey Punch R.I.P., Bubble Girl 63, ITC Soundtracks, Spy Vibe Radio: Public Eye, UFO Prime, Spaceship to Mars, Modesty Blaise Companion, Spy Vibe Radio: Fantomas, George Day, Fantomas Blu, Dark Shadows Doc, Bedazzled Blu-ray, Mary Quant Exhibit, Laika Calypso, Lost in Space Japan, Spy Dust Calypso, Atomic Cafe, John Barry Mono, Interview: John Barry Book, Land of the Giants Score, Skyfall Concert, Dearest Emma, Spy Vibe Radio: Upperseven, Ogilvy at Elstree, Mabuse Propaganda, Bond Beatles Day, Spy Vibe Radio: Liquidator, Diabolik LP, Fab Dresses, Eurospy Music Collection, Beetle Bailey in West Berlin, Why Mort Walker?, Spy Vibe radio: The Beatles Help!, Avengers Critical Guide, The Spotnicks, Benny Spies, James Pond 0017', Satire Stones, Annette Andre Book, Cat Day, Spy Vibe Radio: Get Smart, Caine: My Generation, Interview: Ian Ogilvy, Horror of Party Beach, Sylvie Vartan Renown, Ringo At 78, Dark Shadows Strips, Spy Vibe Radio: Flint, Archie Batman 66, Paul at 76, Beatles Pac-Man, Spy Vibe Radio: Jerry Cotton, The Invaders, 007 Horowitz Book Tour, McGoohan/Prisoner Event at Elstree, The Prisoner Interviews Vol 1, British Underground Press, Interview: Fab4 Mania, Bond Cocktail Book, Bond at Bletchley, Spy Smasher, Spy Vibe Radio: Peter Gunn, Agent Zero M, New Prisoner Comic, Dr. No Villains Edition, Spy Vibe Radio: Danger Diabolik, Dr. No 60th, Oy-Oy-Seven, Spy Vibe Radio (UFO), Cold War Comic Strips, Thunderball Event, Mission to India, Mort Walker Celebration, Peter Wyngarde Celebration, Batman 66 Exhibit, Prisoner Fifty Event, Ian Fleming Publications 2017-2018, Interview: Ed Hulse Pulp, Avengers Audio Drama, Interview: Callan At 50, Interview: Playboys, Spies, Private Eyes, TWA Returns, Spy Vibe Radio 8, Interview: Ryan Heshka, Mid-Century Modern Schulz, Agent Werewolf, Johnny Sokko 50th, Interview: Trina Robbins, Eddie Izzard, The Prisoner Capt Scarlet 50th, Hugh Hefner R.I.P., Jack Good R.I.P., Interview: Shaken Not Stirred, Callan 50th, Spy Vibe Radio 7, The Prisoner 50th Event, Spy-Fi Event, Kaho Aso 007, Two Million, Bo Diddley, Carnaby Pop, Le Carre Events, Billy Bragg Skiffle, Elvis 68, Jack Kirby The Prisoner, Casino Royale Concert, Review: The Prisoner Vol 2, Interview: The Prisoner Essential Guide, Maud Russell Mottisfont, Spy Vibe Radio 4, Batman Gallants, Adam West R.I.P., Village Triangle, Roger Moore R.I.P., Spy Vibe Radio 3, Sgt Pepper 50th, Satanik Kriminal OST, 60s Overdrive, Make Love in London, Spy Vibe Radio 2, Spy Vibe Radio 1, James Bond Strips, Propaganda Mabuse, Interview: Police Surgeon, XTC Avengers, 1966 Pep Spies, Batman Book Interview, Exclusive Fleming Interview, Avengers Comic Strips, Robert Vaughn RIP, UNCLE Fashions, Thunderbirds Are Pop!, Interview: Spy Film Guide, Lost Avengers Found, The Callan File, Mission Impossible 50th, Green Hornet 50th, Star Trek 50th, Portmeirion Photography 1, Filming the Prisoner, Gaiman McGinnins Project, Ian Fleming Grave, Revolver at 50, Karen Romanko Interview, Mod Tales 2, Umbrella Man: Patrick Macnee, New Beatles Film, The Curious Camera, Esterel Fashion 1966, Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview, 007 Tribute Covers, The Phantom Avon novels return, Ian Fleming Festival, Argoman Design, Sylvia Anderson R.I.P., Ken Adam R.I.P., George Martin R.I.P., The New Avengers Comics, The Phantom at 80, 007 Manga, Avengerworld Book, Diana Rigg Auto Show, The Prisoner Audio Drama Review.