Friday, April 20, 2012

Somebody's Had Too Much To Think

The Federal authorities have approved my latest beer label for the good folks at East End Brewing Company:

The recipe was developed by Brendan at EEBC, who bears some resemblance the the young Captain Beefheart, and as this is a smoked lager, they chose to name it after one of the Captain's songs (the actual title is Blabber 'n Smoke).

This design presented a bit of a challenge. I wanted to give it a feel similar to album art of the era without imitating it. I'm a lifelong fan of Cal Schenkel's amazing art, graphics, and design, which graced many Zappa/Mothers albums. Cal was also responsible for the iconic cover of Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, a decidedly "difficult" double LP released in 1969.

I first encountered Cal's art and design in this ad, which appeared in mainstream comic books in 1967:
For our beer label, I made direct reference to a fish-headed figure in a hat, and tried to capture the feel of cheap printing on scruffy newsprint. I hope that I was successful in paying tribute to a major influence, while incorporating my own identity and style.

Following are thumbnails from the sketchbook, beginning with several scrapped ideas and a tiny version of what became the finished art.

Many cartoonists also love Trout Mask Replica, often to the dismay of spouses, children and parents. Matt Groening often recommends it during public appearances, and Patrick McDonnell paid tribute to TRM with the title panel of his comic Mutts in December 2010.

The above-mentioned Mister Schenkel is a kind and gracious gentleman, who exhibits and sells art through his website, Galerie Ralf. His prices are very reasonable, and I recommend that you spend some time at the Galerie and order a giclée print or hand-painted original.


  1. Patrick McDonnell also published a Mutts cartoon based on the Beefheart song, "Grow Fins."

  2. Yes! That was a brilliant one from the great Patrick McDonnell.