THE COMIC ART OF MINDLESS SELF INDULGENCE
By Jimmy Urine
If you get a Mindless Self Indulgence tattoo, I will never feel bad for you because we have so much cool art to choose from that you will probably have a fucking amazing tattoo. You won’t get stuck with a shitty band logo that might not age well. You will have art by Jamie Hewlett or Jhonen Vasquez or Jess Fink. You will have colorful awesome timeless alternative comic book style art and that is because a lot of artists that we seek out to work with on our album art are some of the most amazing illustrators whose work we love.
Part One — Frankenstein Girls Will Seem Strangely Sexy
In 1998 Jamie Hewlett’s name was synonymous with “Tank Girl“, the influential comic book but not yet with Gorillaz so it should not be such a surprise as it was to me that our record label said “who the fuck is Jamie Hewlett?” We wanted him as the artist for our 2000 release Frankenstein Girls Will Seem Strangely Sexy. We had to track him down ourselves because the label did not even begin to know how to find him. When we finally got him on board we just said draw whatever you want. He sent me a few preliminary sketches that would be the cover of the record. On these sketches were written tons of little notes. Such as “this will be green not gray”, ” I will tighten this up “, “more shading over here” and one small note on the bottom that said “the Frankenstein girls will seem strangely sexy”. I thought that was the greatest thing I have ever heard. It was super absurdist. We asked him if we could name our record after that note and Jamie said “You can if you want. You guys are nuts.”
Part Two — If
When you’re in a band a good marketing trick is to look at the audience when you are on stage and see what other band t-shirts the kids in your audience are wearing. That gives you an idea of who’s audience you should be looking at to steal from. When we looked into our audience we saw one or two Slipknot shirts, maybe the occasional Marilyn Manson shirt, but we saw hundreds upon hundreds of “Invader Zim” shirts and bags and hoodies. So we thought we have to contact Jhonen Vasquez and get a shirt or poster or something. When we did contact Jhonen he said he wanted to direct a video for us. The result was the “Shut Me Up” video which is one of our most popular. Later in 2008 we were working on our record If so we hit Jhonen up again for the artwork of the deluxe edition of the record. Again we got some of the most amazing art ever and a lot of it. The image of the hand with the finger puppets we thought was amazing. But our management hated it. The band fought like hell to make it the cover and I am so glad we did because it’s so dope and I see so many tattoos of it. I’m going to text Jhonen right now to see what he has to say about If.
JHONEN VASQUEZ: “On If, Jimmy wanted caricatures of the band, but I’ve never been big on that kinda thing for album artwork. Fortunately, the band’s real funny looking, so that made it easier for me and a lot of fun to draw in the end.”
Part Three — Adventures into MSI
You’d think we’d have done a comic book when we first started this band. It seems like a no-brainer but for some reason we never did. Not until an artist named Jess Fink contacted us out of the blue with some sketches saying she would really like to do a comic book of us. We were flattered but because our lives on the road are so fun and real and Jess Fink’s art had such good comedic timing I had the idea of us compiling all of our best road stories for Jess to then turn into a cool cartoon-y comic book. It took the band a little bit to get all our stories together but once we did everything started taking shape. Jess Fink’s art really complimented our real life cartoon lives. The best part is that all the stories are 100% true. Image Comics eventually published it, and aside from t-shirts it was one of our best merch items
Part Four — Final Thoughts
As much as we are attracted to art and artists, I find that artists are also attracted to us. An artist I highly respect who we did not have the pleasure to work with, Peter Max, said this about MSI in this excerpt from the Los Angeles Times from April of 2000:
His latest musical passion? Mindless Self Indulgence, a decidedly out-there act whose debut album–which to Max has a stylistic range running from Rage to Queen–was just released by Elektra Records. ”I was searching for things for the CDs and was at a listening station in a record store,” he says. “I was jumping and singing and had to look around to see if anyone was watching me. Since then I’ve bought 17 copies of the CD for friends.”
We definitely go to sleep happy knowing that people whose art we love also love us.