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JukeBox is a blog for lovers of design and music in equal measure. All posts are written by experts who've been there and got the (band) t-shirt.

C1 – The Cramps

C1 – The Cramps

Gunky and punky, The Cramps logo bears a suspicious resemblance to alien goo slip-sliding down a cemetery wall.

Founder and front man Lux Interior cribbed the look from the titling script of EC Comics’ lurid horror series ‘Tales from the Crypt’, designed by editor Al Felstein in the early 1950s. Lux (real name Erick Lee Purkhiser) had studied art at Sacramento State college in the early Seventies, where he met his future wife and partner in Cramp, Poison Ivy. 

Frighteners: The bi-monthly 1950s comic was accused of fostering ‘juvenile delinquency’.

Frighteners: The bi-monthly 1950s comic was accused of fostering ‘juvenile delinquency’.

‘Tales from the Crypt’ had a short shelf life. Only 27 issues were produced between 1950 and 1955, although these were subsequently reprinted several times. The Cramps and their logo, perhaps surprisingly, were much longer-lived, clocking up an impressive 33 years from 1976 to 2009, during which time over 20 band members had come and gone. The influence of B-movie sleaze and sensationalist vintage comics on the band’s music and visual persona is plain to see. 

Animal magic: The Cramps’ usual line in understated good taste. 

Animal magic: The Cramps’ usual line in understated good taste. 

In Dick Porter’s biography of the band, ‘Journey to the Centre of the Cramps’, Lux recalls: “We have most the [original horror comic books] from the forties and fifties to all the golden age stuff. Those small companies were the ones that made way-out comics, beyond the limits of what was really allowed — they managed to get stuff out. That stuff is really kind of evil stuff for kids to be reading. That collection is really important to us.”

First sight: The Cramps logo emerges from the shadows.

First sight: The Cramps logo emerges from the shadows.

The campy, ghoulish logo made its first appearance on the 1976 single ‘The Way I Walk/ Surfin’ Bird’ in 1976, printed in black and white and overlaid on murky, mysterious photograph of the band by Steven Blauner. And it proved its versatility over the years, emblazoned in different colourways on all kinds of titillating and provocative artwork, ranging from the gritty to the psychedelic, and incorporating numerous illustrative and photographic styles.

It’s also one of the few band logos to have been rendered in three dimensions. The front and back covers of ‘Off the Bone’, a compilation of early singles released in 1983, featured fully 3D front and back covers, and came complete with a pair of free red/green 3D glasses.  

Another dimension: a slice of gore courtesy of UK designer/illustrator Graham Humphreys, a horror film poster specialist.

Another dimension: a slice of gore courtesy of UK designer/illustrator Graham Humphreys, a horror film poster specialist.

Is this the worst rock logo of all time?

Is this the worst rock logo of all time?

B1 – Buzzcocks

B1 – Buzzcocks