Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Digital Graveyard: Covers And Artwork For Genetic Disorder Magazine, Part 1

(Click any for bigger.)

I first met Larry Harmon, creator of Genetic Disorder, in about 1997 in San Diego. GD was (is?)  a lively, hilarious, and well-written "zine", and Larry was a respected and influential member of the underground publishing community. Like many other zines, GD was, at its core, a music fanzine, featuring record and concert reviews, interviews with bands, etc. But the remainder of the publication was a highly inventive grab-bag of random, well-written and scrupulously researched, articles about whatever was obsessing Larry and his rowdy friends at the moment. At the time, I was working full-time for Hypno, a magazine with commercial, mainstream aspirations, and always felt a little embarrassed when I saw how cool Genetic Disorder was.

In 1995, Larry mentioned to me that he was going to do a big theme issue on Satanism, and I immediately begged him to do the cover. I think Larry had met my over-the-top "Satanic" friend Ricky Rebel, and had seen what we had done with Satan Brand Magazine, so he enthusiastically agreed.

I came up with the idea of cute kids about to sacrifice a cat almost instantaneously; it was my first idea and required no revision. I drew the characters in a kind of wireframe style using the most pitiful, primitive PC graphics programs imaginable. I'm pretty sure it was Autodesk Animator. I then printed all the individual elements out, pasted them up, and then "reverse painted" the illustration with cel vinyl on a sheet of stiff acrylic at a 1:1 ratio. Larry added the title lettering in Photoshop, using VAG Rounded at my request, and I loved how the whole thing came out. And the whole issue, brimming with hilarious and astonishing tales of Christian Satanic Panic, bone-headed metal fans, and an incredible calendar of daily Satanic fun facts, one relevant to every single day of the year, was a new high water mark for Larry and GD.

Larry and I worked so well together that I ended up doing the next five covers (all of which feature the grinning little girl with pigtails) for Genetic Disorder, too, and if he ever produces another issue, I hope to do that one as well. I never charged Larry a cent, because it was just so much fun doing the covers for him, and so gratifying to have something physically printed (remember those pre-internet days?). I even paid to make one expensive cover idea possible! Part of that bargain, I suppose, is that I made mistakes on every single one of them, so it was a valuable learning experience for a totally untrained dilettante like me (I'm not being modest; I have never taken a single course in graphics, so doing these covers was literally my education).

About a year after doing this cover, I started learning how to use Adobe Illustrator, and remade the illustration as a proper vector image:

You can still buy all of these, including the one featured here, which is highly recommended, at Larry's somewhat rudimentary GD website. Collect them all!

Next: Larry and my cover design hit the road in Genetic Disorder #15! Live the adventure!

UPDATE: Part two is here, three is here, four is here, five is here, and six is here. Purchase copies of these wonderful zines here.


Comradde PhysioProffe said...

That is fucken awesome! My favorite touch is the issue number devil head icon.

Peteykins said...

Comrade, I'm expecting some brutal typography criticism from you for the upcoming parts of this series.

Or are you just already just being polite?

Anonymous said...

The cat with its tongue sticking out reminds of what's-her-name, Cylus/Cyrus/Miley something or rather ...

Anonymous said...

Gosh! My brain is melting down at the thought of using Autodesk Animator® to draw the image that was then printed out and back painted on acrylic with cel vinyl! That's just nuts! And I'm sorry you ever had to use Autodesk Animator® but I can't knock success. I much prefer the soulful [geddit?] hand painted copy compared to the AI version! I question why you didn't just use gouache and illustration board from the get-go?