Sunday, June 3, 2018

Rick Griffin

Rick Griffin
by Gordon McClellan
Last Gasp, 2002

'Rick Griffin' (100 pp), an overview of the renowned graphic artists' work, was published by Last Gasp in 2002. It's an authorized reprint of the volume first released by Paper Tiger in 1980.

Copies of the book, from either publisher, start in the low $20s and go on up; I was fortunate to find this copy for only $5.
Rick Griffin (1953 - 1991) was the most gifted of all the artists participating in the underground comix and 'psychedelic' art movements of the late 60s and early 70s. Griffin grew up in Southern California and embraced its surfer culture, learning to surf at age 14 and contributing the comic strip 'Murphy' to Surfer magazine while still in high school. After graduating, Griffin was a staffer for the magazine before embarking on a peripatetic lifestyle that saw him traveling and surfing to one memorable destination after another.
By the mid-60s Griffin had moved to San Francisco and established himself as the most sought-after artist for the burgeoning rock concert poster scene. A number of his more famous posters are reproduced here in this volume.

Also represented in 'Rick Griffin' are some of the stories Griffin did for underground comix, as well as examples of his typography, including his famous logo for the magazine Rolling Stone

What makes Griffin's work all the more impressive is the fact that in 1964, a car he had hitch-hiked a ride in wound up crashing due to the erratic state of the driver. Griffin was thrown from the vehicle, and his face struck the ground, leaving him with a detached eyeball and facial injuries that took two years of plastic surgery to repair. So all of his meticulous artwork was done with only one eye (!).
During the late 70s and 80s, Griffin's reputation earned him commissions for record album covers, movie posters, and other advertisements, some of which are reproduced in the pages of 'Rick Griffin'.

As a result of his conversion to Christianity in 1970, Griffin also created impressive graphic art, based on the Bible, for a book / tract titled The Gospel of St John.

Griffin's tragic death in August, 1991 in a motorcycle accident in Petaluma cut short his career just as he was making significant inroads into the world of gallery-based fine art.

Summing up, if you come across a copy of 'Rick Griffin' for an affordable price, by all means grab it. It's something that belongs on the bookshelf of anyone devoted to the art of the psychedelic era, underground comix, and the pop culture of the 60s.

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