💊⁴ MYSTERY PANEL VAN ARTIST UNMASKED
There was this sort of crimson, mandibled crustacean demon that leered out of the pages of my computer games mags – ZZAP64!, C64, Commodore User – back in the late ‘80s.
Maybe it was Predator inspired, maybe not - who even knows what the arcane production schedules of 8-bit video games and print advertising were in relation to the 1987 Arnie ‘Nam rerun.
The game’s name was BAAL, and it looks like a sort of fangless, platform variation on DOOM based on that video.
BAAL’s publisher Psyclapse – an imprint of Psygnosis – had an epic brushed metal logo designed by Roger Dean, and their every release seemed to be boxed in exquisite none-more-metal artwork that the lumbering games tech of the time always failed to live up to.
Ballistix – a pretty shit Arkanoid riff – was another Psyclapse release - this one had some sort of winged techno-angel heaving bombs down from on high. This was the image I later came to associate with the cheap re-release of Judas Priest’s debut album, Rocka Rolla, whose original, iconic cover with the bottle top was designed by the legendary John Pasche.
Later still, I spotted that same very bomb-bot on the cover of Michael Moorcock’s The Steel Tsar, unwittingly having traced the image’s lineage backwards, perfectly.
Hunting down the artist’s name had completely failed to occur to me until a couple of weeks back, when I picked up a copy of Piers Anthony’s Faith of Tarot on a rare moment spent pawing through a second hand book shop.
The wild magenta hell spawn looming up on the cover must have felt familiar on some gut level.
It was thirty odd years (jesus) since those games ads piqued my burgeoning trash-kid aesthetic, and I was finally about to unearth the name of the artist who’d linked my gaming to my music fandom and a very occasional interest in panel van art.
After a bit of light google-fu, I had my man.
Melvyn fucken Grant.
Hit the link and revel in the majesty and little a artistry of a bloke that never quite hit the heights of Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell, but probably definitely was behind more than a few of the posters on your wall and CDs on your rack if you’re anywhere south of fifty.
Weirdly, that Faith of Tarot abomination sure looks more than a bit like I’d envisioned a certain diabolical entity in my book, Home Brewed, Vampire Bullets, too…
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