• PrintMag

Utopian Lettering

A masterpiece of comics calligraphy and fictional language, Rick Griffin’s Man From Utopia (1970) exemplifies the exquisitely exotic essence of underground comics and psychedelic lettering. It inspired be me to draw comics and letters – a talent, alas, I did not possess. Griffin (1944-1991), along with Victor Moscoso, Stanley Mouse & Alton Kelley and Wes Wilson, were the Michelangelo of rock posters.

Rick became known as one of the “Big Five” of psychedelia. In 1967 they founded the Berkeley-Bonaparte distribution agency to produce and sell psychedelic poster art. He oversaw the lithography, ensuring a flow of quality artwork by himself and other leading lights, destined to grace the walls of the enlightened to this day. The famous ‘Flying Eyeball’ poster ranks as one of the most important of the time and is sought after by fans and modern art museums alike. (from Rick Griffin bio here.)

Griffin, who designed the first Rolling Stone magazine logo and was a founding contributor to ZAP comics, was also a frequent record album artist. He died in 1991:

On his way back to his house on Stadler Lane in Petaluma, Rick’s Harley Heritage Softail was forced off the road by a van he was attempting to pass. Rick died three days later from his injuries.

Images here are from Man From Utopia, a loosely connected collection of Griffin’s most beautiful graphic streams of consciousness. The lettering is the precursor of LA gang graffiti and Wild Style type.

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