14 Nov 2016

Psychedelic Comics by Jaypee

With Marvel's Dr Strange in the cinema, a psychedelic movie for the masses, we thought it would be great to take a look at the more weirder side of comics & no better place to start than a piece written for Rocket by a man that helped changed my life, his name is 'Jaypee' and he was responsible for introducing me to CAN.  

The place I grew up was twinned with his village in France and although we never met as exchange pupils at school, some years after school I landed up with another friend making a trip to Paris to hangout. We drank beer, beer up to that point wasn't something that appealed to me, but because it so hot French beer now seemed very appealing. So we spent our days wondering the City & visiting the usual sites and all the record shops. JP & I had a shared a love for Punk/Grunge/Garage Rock and he fed my curiosity for new music by springing bands like CAN, Neu! and Captain Beefheart on me.

I kind of don't have to say how it effected me, its sort of obvious for anyone viewing these pages, money spent on releasing music, time spent on artwork, lights, videos, photography, music....

I returned from Paris with tapes and tapes full of music that helped build the foundation for what the label became, lucky Revolver Records in Bristol were big advocates of CAN, so I bought the lot!!!

So the point of all of this, Jean-Philippe Chabot is a comics artist living in Paris so we asked him to come up with a list and say some words about some of the 'psyched' comics he's a fan of, so enjoy!

Who says the EU doesn't do anything for UK culture!!!!

Johnny O



As far as I can remember I have always been fascinated by pictures, any kind of picture, whether it be recent or old, figurative or graphic, offensive or calm. But one of the earliest forms I was struck by was that of comic books. I started out with a borderline insane obsession with them: at first French and Belgian, then American and Japanese, and this passion went on for many years and some of them lead to truly life-changing experiences. So much so that in the end it became my job (a full-time one, that is).

So here is a selection of some of the work I still worship to this day. The connection might not be obvious with Rocket Recordings but I cannot conceive pictures without music. Please read the following selection in case you do not know them already, and try to create a suitable soundtrack for them. You might be in for a hell of a ride…

-Oxo/La Mort Amoureuse (« Death In Love. »)

In the midst of a very weird Necropolis, Death becomes bored with his friend Destiny. Both seek out love and eventually find it with a Mermaid. They help her to find some lungs so she can breathe. Striking and harsh airbrush effects and violent colours. A bit like Salvadore Dali on acid, only 666 times harder…

-Jim Woodring/Frank.

A totally psychedelic comic book nicely drawn in black and white, where Mickey Mouse’s distant cousin seems to have an experience akin to Dante’s Inferno with pigs bearing human faces, toxic plants and living objects… They all seem to distract our hero who keeps struggling through surrealistic situations. No need for text when drawings are so expressive…

-Jim Starlin/The Life & Death Of Captain Marvel.

Mar-Vell of the Kree, known on this planet as Captain Marvel, fights some ultra-villains with names such as Stellarax, Thanos or Nitro in a modern and freaky story of Mythology where Cosmic Awareness seems to be useful. Large spreads with images filled with tons of detail depict the glory of Jim Starlin’s twisted mind and sense of storytelling.  « And behold the heart of your universe… »

-Claude Moliterni/Robert Gigi/Agar, Les Jouets Maléfiques (« Agar, The Evil Toys. »)

I have a very strong memory of discovering this book in 1974. A couple of teenagers are travelling through space in a butterfly-shaped spaceship and end up on a planet populated with toys and robots. The lord of this seemingly dreamy world whose name is Toïmaker ( !) is trying to launch a giant jellyfish to capture our heroes in the middle of a gothic city with collapsed bridges and giant gears. Imagine a 70’s version of Through The Looking Glass with acid and you might be close to it…

-Suehiro Maruo/Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show.

A young orphan called Midori joins a freak show and has some very disturbing experiences such as mental and physical torture. She later meets Masamitso whom she falls in love with. This is a wonderful fable about beauty Vs. Monstrosity and is masterfully drawn by Japanese genius Maruo: thin lines and large, black surfaces, very graphic yet with lots of detail. This is essential reading for fans of both modern horror and Japanese art with a touch of surrealism. « Farewell sweet cherry blossoms… »

-Moebius/The Airtight Garage.

An absolute and indisputable classic of science fiction, this comic book initially published in the legendary French magazine Metal Hurlant between 1976 and 1979 tells the twisted story of Major Grubert in an ever-changing world through his spaceship Ciguri. The outstanding nature of this work beyond its pure graphics and elegant lines, is its strong sense of improvisation. The story line wasn’t planned at all and Moebius did it every month from scratch, surprising everyone amongst his readers, and its end in a (spoiler alert !) Parisian tube station is truly the stuff of legend. The visual equivalent of a long jam involving Can, Trad Gras Och Stenar and Ash ra Tempel…

-Thomas Ott/Hellville.

One of Swiss artist, Thomas Ott’s earliest works , it is a prime example of his scratchboard technique and creates a striking effect telling some disturbing short stories reminiscent of David Lynch, Cormac McCarthy or even to some degree, Edward Hopper while staying idiosyncratic at the same time. A very dark world where constant pain and suffering leads the reader to reach for some air and seeking the soothing effect of pure and absolute darkness. This is Art, really.

-Massimo Mattioli/M Le magicien (« Wizard M. »)

I remember reading this in the late 60’s in popular children’s magazine Pif Gadget and being as nearly disturbed as when I was watching famous TV series The Prisoner… It’s a seemingly pleasant world where a very old wizard has the power to change everything . Slightly cruel and always surrealistic, the story takes place on a planet filled with chameleons, flowers and stars that TALK. It is drawn in a very simple way with strong pop colours. Turn on, tune in, drop out. For kids.

Daniel Clowes/Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron.

Some books have such a huge effect on you, you can actually remember the day you bought them. This is one of them. A man called Clay Loudermilk tries to locate his estranged wife and eventually finds her playing in a sleazy porn movie. The story goes through a very weird plot with an increasingly bizarre cast of characters involving perverse policemen, a nymphomaniac Mum and other freaks. Even a song by cult band The Shaggs inspires a character. Daniel Clowes is a true genius up there with people like Robert Crumb or Charles Burns. Oh, and it’s very poetic too…

-Hideshi Hino/Panorama Of Hell.

An evil Japanese painter tells his story about how he survived the Hiroshima disaster and tried to live in its aftermath. A tortuous journey depicted through some unsettling and pseudo simplistic pictures to great effect. A black & white Manga of its own… « It’s a great big beautiful Hell ! » says the main character at one point. Indeed it is.

Neil Gaiman/Dave McKean/Arkham Asylum.

Among all the books about mental illness, Arkham Asylum is the graphic equivalent of Samuel Fuller’s novel, « Shock Corridor » : a slow and painful, yet fascinating journey through Gotham city’s legendary madhouse where one meets the most evil version of the Joker who starts a riot and tries to provoke Batman, and tricks him into the corridors of this hellish place overcrowded with maniacs and other psychopaths. The inspired paintings of Dave McKean create a suffocating environment where even the Batman appears to be a shadow of his former self. The possible equivalent of looking at Hieronymus Bosch’s paintings with a crackling neon light…

Hope you are going to enjoy these… Night, night.


Other artists worth looking at : S. Clay Wilson, Victor Moscoso, Stephane Blanquet, Charles Burns, Blutch, Roland Topor, Pierre La Police, etc…