Sunday, December 1, 2013

Comics on Album Covers

[THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS - Last updated 17-11-09]

Were all of these intended to be read sequentially? I don't know but they're art and I read them so I consider them to be "comics".

A lot of people have been using the term "comic art" to mean "a style of art that is for comics". Well guess what, fools? There's no such thing! ANY style of art can be used for comics.

There is a greater variety of storytelling, as well as impressionistic or rhythmic intensions, that can be expressed with comics than what we find within the most popular genres.

I hope that this post encourages anyone with a limited view of what "comic art" can be, as well as what a comic can say and how it says it, to look beyond to the full range of possibilities.

Anyway, enough of my yakkin'. Let's boogie...

1960 - Don Luis Quintero & The Madrid Festival Orchestra ‎- Sizzling Strings, Castanets & Percussion
Design by Sam Suliman

1965 - The Beatles - Help!
Robert Freeman - photography
From Wikipedia: The album cover features the group with their arms positioned to spell out a word in flag semaphore. According to cover photographer Robert Freeman, "I had the idea of semaphore spelling out the letters "H E L P". But when we came to do the shot the arrangement of the arms with those letters didn't look good. So we decided to improvise and ended up with the best graphic positioning of the arms." (On the British Parlophone release, the letters formed by The Beatles appear to be 'NUJV', whilst the slightly re-arranged U. S. release on Capitol Records appeared to feature the letters 'NVUJ'.)

1972 - Jamming With Edward
Artwork by Nicky Hopkins
(Sent in by Jim Woodring)

1972 - Marcos Valle - Vento Sul
Artwork by Juarez Machado
(Sent in by Matt Madden)

1974 - Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
Design by Hipgnosis

1979 - Gang Of Four - Entertainment!
Design – Andy Gill, Jon King

1981 - Van Halen - Fair Warning
Painting by William Kurelik
There are panels in the selection used for the cover but looking at the complete painting - The Maze, it's more apparent.

1983 - Talking Heads - Speaking In Tongues
Cover by David Byrne

1984 - Laurie Anderson - United States I-IV Live (album sleeve art)
Art and film direction by Laurie Anderson
These are breakdowns or keyframes of animations she used in the stage show but printed on the album sleeve, I read them as comics.

1984 - Thomas Dolby - The Flat Earth
Cover by Assorted iMaGes (Design by Baker Dave, Malcolm Garrett and Thomas Dolby)
Version #1:
Version #2: 

1985 - Squeeze - Cosi Fan Tutti Fruitti
Art Direction: Michael Ross, Rob O'Connor / 
Design: Rob O'Connor / 
Illustrations: Simon Fell.

1986 - R.E.M. - Lifes Rich Pageant 
(This is the correct title. For some reason they didn't place an apostrophe in "Lifes".)
Sandra Lee Phipps – photography / R. O. Scarelli – packaging

1993 - New Order - Republic
Art direction by Peter Saville (designed at Pentagram)

2003 - The Strokes - Room on Fire
Peter Phillips - cover art / Colin Lane - photography / Brett Kilroe - art direction

2006 - Yo La Tengo Is Murdering the Classics
Cover by Adrian Tomine 

2016 - Yo La Tengo - Murder in the Second Degree
Cover by Adrian Tomine

2016 - Pez – Rock Nacional
Art by Gerardo Canelo

2016 - $uicideBoy$ - Radical $uicide
Art by (still searching) 

2016 - Tom’s Story - Tom’s Story
Photos by Karen De La Fuente / Art by D.j. Dumapit

2016 - Wilco - Schmilco
Art by Joan Cornellà

2017 - Melkbelly - Nothing Valley
Cover by Dave Krueger / Ben Marcus

Also see the Abstract Comics on Album Covers series
by clicking on the following links:

Bonus album liner notes comics:

 "The Point!" by Gary Lund (included inside vinyl record Nilsson, 1971)

"Ivan Meets G.I. Joe" by Steve Bell (from the liner notes for The Clash album Sandinista!, 1980)
(When I was in Jr. High, my brother had this album and I remember loving the comic so much that one day I actually ran home from school to put on the record and read it again, over and over.)

So hey, I hope you're enjoying this post. It's a lot of fun to put together. Check back for more...

If you (yes, YOU) have any "comics on album covers" you'd like to send, you can e-mail me at: contact(at)getsivizion(dot)com and I will post them here with your name (or anonymously, if you wish). Feel free to include any personal anecdotes or theoretical type jazz.

Please title your e-mail "Comics on Album Covers". Thanks!


  1. How about that Big Brother and the Holding Company cover by R. Crumb?

  2. Hey John, I knew that one would come up. I almost mentioned it in my intro. Um, it's not a comic, at least I can't read it as one. It's done by a cartoonist obviously and it has panels but they're not related sequentially. I'm sure some would say that examples I've posted, like the Talking Heads cover, are not comics to them personally but I found that it has more meaning, or at least humor, when I read it, revealing a personality to the "dog-chair" that isn't there if I just look at each panel separately. The Crumb Big Brother cover doesn't seem to reveal anything narratively, character-wise or even rhythmically if read in sequence. It features separate bits of information such as the song titles, credits, etc. presented as a collage.