An Interview with Victor Moscoso

Music and Drugs

GROTH: Did you like the music of the bands you were doing the posters of?

MOSCOSO: Oh yeah, generally. Some I liked more than the others. I really dug Big Brother. I dug the Youngbloods. It was surprising, because San Francisco bands were basically garage bands. The Grateful Dead were playing out of tune with each other half the time, and out of time. But when you’re on acid, who gives a shit for things like that?

GROTH: Do you think music played an important part in how you approached your visual work?

MOSCOSO: Not really. No, they were two parallel tracks. Because I never got any inspiration from the music itself. I dug the music, but when it came to doing the posters, I was doing a different art form.

GROTH: But there’s a musical, rhythmic quality to your visual work.

MOSCOSO: It may. I wouldn’t argue that, but I never did it consciously. If any music crept into my graphic design, it was unconscious.

GROTH: But the unconscious plays a big part.

MOSCOSO: Such a big part that I don’t even understand it — that’s why it’s unconscious. My consciousness I can understand. But the unconscious, that’s the tricky part. My theory on inspiration is Jungian, basically. When that light bulb comes on over your head — bing! — you get the idea, that’s your unconscious handing over to your consciousness the solution that your consciousness has been working on. And not only that, it fits in perfectly with the muses coming down from Mount Olympus with messages from the gods. In Plato’s Republic, he’s got this Abbot-and-Costello kinda routine. He says, “Now we’re going to have a new republic, right?” Yeah, OK, sure. Now he’s talking to the poet, and he says, “Boy, I really like that part where you’re describing that chariot race where you go around the corner and it’s so realistic. You must be a great chariot racer.” And the poet says, “Oh, no I’m not.” And Plato says, “Well then how do you know what it’s like to race a chariot?” And the guy says, “Gee, I don’t know.” And he says, “Aha! It is the gods sending you the poem via the muse from Mount Olympus, from the gods to the human.” Well, I say, what the hell? It works perfectly. The unconscious is delivering messages to the consciousness. You don’t have to go to Mount Olympus, really. It’s all within you.

GROTH: Do you think it’s possible to cultivate the unconscious?

MOSCOSO: Yes. I do it all the time. Every artist does it.

GROTH: What is your technique to do that?

MOSCOSO: Smoke dope. [Groth laughs.] That’s an over-simplification, of course. Because then every dope smoker would then be an artist! Now wouldn’t that be nice? I know George Bush has smoked dope, besides doing cocaine.

GROTH: I don’t think that’s helped his unconscious much, to tell you the truth.

MOSCOSO: Nah, I don’t even think he has a conscious or an unconscious.

GROTH: [laughter] His consciousness is buried pretty deep.

MOSCOSO: No, man, he’s just a shell of a human being.

GROTH: Not a good advertisement for smoking pot.

MOSCOSO: Not a good advertisement for anything. At least his father was evil and cunning. This guy is a shell. When he gave the commencement address at Yale right after he became President, he says, “See? Even a C student can become President of the United States.” Sure, if your father’s head of the CIA, Vice President of the United States and can buy Yale a new gymnasium or library. And I think he had to buy him the C. He didn’t earn shit, man; he didn’t earn shit. He’s a trust-fund kid, who has never had to work a day in his life, doesn’t know the meaning of work. But, hey man, perfect, this is what we want in a President, in a front man. Anyway, I didn’t mean to get into politics.

GROTH: What drugs were you taking in the late ’60s? Were you the occasional pot smoker?

MOSCOSO: I was a regular pot smoker.

GROTH: Crumb took LSD. Did you do that?

MOSCOSO: I took LSD, but you can’t draw on LSD. People ask me, “Did you draw on acid?” Draw on acid? That’s like drawing while you’re tumbling down a flight of stairs. Are you kidding? With you dying and being re-born, having an understanding of the molecular structure of your body and of the cosmos at the same time. Drawing is absurd. You can’t do it! Whatever you draw will not come close to what you can see, or perceive. Words cannot describe an acid trip. I took acid, but I certainly wouldn’t draw under it.

GROTH: Did experiencing acid affect your art? Crumb said it affected his work tremendously.

MOSCOSO: It affected my work in the sense that it helped me re-wire myself. In the lessons of introspection that I garnished from my acid trips, it made it easier for me to re-wire and change the circuits that had been so carefully learned in art school.

GROTH: So it enhanced your visual imagination.

MOSCOSO: It did, specifically by allowing me to see clearly how I could change myself. I was a very good student, and I had learned my lessons very well, so they were very firmly and well embedded in me. So I had to learn how to use that to my advantage, and not to my disadvantage, like by trying to make lettering legible. That’s where acid helped.


GROTH: You created your first poster, and as you told it, it bombed and you had to re-think your whole approach.

MOSCOSO: Yes, I did. It was the piece that I have learned the most from of all the pieces that I’ve ever done. You learn more from your failures than you do from your successes. When I do a successful poster or piece of art, I learn that my guess is right. When you do a failure, you have to first figure out where you failed, which means self-examination, and then you have to change it, which means re-wiring the system. That’s what happened to me in that particular poster. And with a success, you say, “Hey, straight ahead.”

GROTH: What did you do to make your first successful poster?

“The Man with Spiral Eyes” ©1967 Family Dog (A DBA of Chet Helms)

MOSCOSO: I watched what Mouse, Kelley ,and Wes Wilson were doing. Like, for instance, when Wes did the first poster of Paul Butterfield, he had made the background equal to the foreground. In other words, there was no back ground; there was no foreground. The lettering was the same plane as the foreground, which was the figure. This, in modern graphics that I’ve been taught, is a no-no because the figure is dominant and the lettering is pretty much invisible unless you’re doing a type cover or design. From Mouse and Kelley, I learned the obvious, that a package of Zig-Zag papers is more than a package of Zig-Zag papers. It is a banner, or it can be made into a banner. And they would go through old books — that’s where they got the skull and roses from, from Edmund Sullivan’s Omar Khayyam illustration [“The Skeleton, in The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam,” 1900]. They didn’t draw that; they turned it into a poster.

So by watching them as closely as I could, I learned from them. Basically, what it came down to was to reverse everything I had learned, because what they were doing — and doing successfully, and at a very rapid pace — I hadn’t done. So, by reversing it — lo and behold, it worked!

GROTH: Did you actually have an epiphany of sorts?

MOSCOSO: Yeah. It’s been referred to in other interviews that way. Steven Heller referred to it that way in the New York Times, as an epiphany. If I had stayed with what I had learned in Cooper Union and at Yale, I never would have done anything that would have been acceptable to the audience. I wouldn’t have used vibrating colors; I would have used as-legible-as-possible lettering. Shit, that’s what the previous generation was doing. One thing that I noticed was that all the artists went back, at some time or other, in their work to their grandparents’ generation: World War I uniforms were popular, and your grandmother’s attic kind of stuff. But nobody went back to the ’50s for inspiration at those times, ’cause that was your parents’ generation.

GROTH: You went on to do posters for the Avalon, the Matrix and eventually the Fillmore ballrooms.

MOSCOSO: Only two for the Fillmore. Only one, because they were two halves. I never did a poster for Bill Graham, although technically, I did. I did it for Rick Griffin, because Rick asked me to help him.

GROTH: Now, these were dance halls, concert halls?

MOSCOSO: They were dance halls, and the way they were listed was “dance concert.”

GROTH: How big were these places?

MOSCOSO: Their capacity was only a thousand. That’s why Bill Graham had to move into Winterland when he got Jimi Hendrix.

GROTH: A thousand capacity couldn’t accommodate him.

MOSCOSO: Right. Why let all that money walk past the door because they can’t fit them all in?

GROTH: Did you do the posters for the dance halls or for the band?

MOSCOSO: I did the record-album covers for the band later on, but I did the ballroom posters for the promoters. And the Matrix posters were for my own company [Neon Rose]. I could see where I could run into trouble with Bill or Chet. In other words, they were like the guy that decided whether you could get the poster or not. And what I wanted to do at that time, more than anything else, was event posters, like Toulouse-Lautrec doing a poster for the Moulin Rouge — although that was kind of generic because it didn’t have a date on it. And Aristide Bruant at his theater — again, that was kind of generic because the posters didn’t have the date on them. I wanted to do dated advertisements. That’s what they were; that was the only form of advertising.

GROTH: Why was that important to you?

MOSCOSO: I can’t really tell you for sure, other than I knew it was going to be historical after a certain point. That was part of it. I can’t say that’s the whole thing, ‘cause you don’t just do things to be historical.

GROTH: You had the feeling these things would last as cultural icons?

MOSCOSO: After a while. Once the poster shops opened up, I knew they were going to be historical because I had taken art history, and the story of what happened with Toulouse-Lautrec — he was a classically trained artist and he does an advertisement for the Moulin Rouge. It’s such a hit: people take it off the walls; the promoters say, “Hey, wait a minute, there are people stealing it, we can sell it to them.” And then it just takes off. I saw the same thing occurring in San Francisco as happened in Paris. In fact, I even timed the years. Approximately 80 years had passed since Toulouse-Lautrec, Cheret and Mucha had done their thing. And here was Wes Wilson, Mouse, Kelley, Moscoso, Rick Griffin doing their thing for dance halls — Moulin Rouge was a dance hall; the Avalon was a dance hall; The Matrix was a club.

GROTH: What was the first poster you did where you thought you struck gold?

MOSCOSO: The one that I call “The Man with the Spiral Eyes.” It’s the Family Dog-logo Indian, and he has spiral eyeglasses, and in the background is the same pattern repeated, so that you could ask yourself the questions, “Are those two holes going through the head looking at the background? Or is he wearing the same glasses as in the background?” because they’re right in the same position. Anyway, that was the first one that clicked. It was like I’d been on the bench for almost six months, since “Stone Façade,” but it finally felt like I was in the ballgame.

GROTH: Who was that for?

MOSCOSO: That was for the Avalon Ballroom.

GROTH: Who did you deal with there?

MOSCOSO: At first, I dealt with Chet; then I would just get my call from the secretary. I’d say, “OK, What’s the bill?” She’d give me the date; she’d give me the bill — I still have some of these slips — the bill, who’s on it and the time, place and date. And at one point, Chet went to England, and Philip Hammond took over and became the art director. He was into astrology. I didn’t know anything about astrology, but he would do a reading on the event. And he says, “Well, the event is going to happen when the moon is in Scorpio … ” and all of this stuff from the planes of quicksilver, which actually is the planet Mercury. He gave me this reading. On that poster, you’ll see the astrological signs along one side, on the outside of the circle of lettering, and I had no idea what they meant. I had to have him draw them out for me so that I could put them into the design. I don’t know anything about astrology, but I like the images, the symbols, the signs. I liked that I was a Leo, a lion. That was cool. I never liked the Chinese astrological calendar because I’m a rat. I prefer to be a lion than a rat. Although rats will survive over lions, so who’s to say who the most powerful is?


GROTH: You started doing these posters for the ballrooms in ’66. At what point did you meet Rick Griffin?

MOSCOSO: I remember when I first saw Rick. I had gone down to the Family Dog to pick up a check. This is when they were on Gough Street and there was a bench right up against the window to the storefront, and there were these guys with portfolios waiting to see Chet, to see if they could do posters. And I saw this guy and he looked just like Jesus Christ, with a portfolio on his lap. I said to myself, “Jesus Christ! There he is! With a portfolio on his lap.” And then I just kept walking, didn’t think much of it. But then later on, I met him somewhere else. We became friends, because we were doing the same thing, and when you’re doing the same thing, you tend to be like musicians; even if they’re not in the same band, they get together and get to know each other’s work, and then get to know the person. That was the spring of ’67. That’s when I really got into doing the posters, like full-tilt boogie, to quote Janis.

GROTH: So, at what point did you actually meet Griffin and befriend him?

MOSCOSO: When we did our first poster. He came over to my house with an illustration board with an oval on it and this psychedelic-looking lettering at the top that he already had inked, and the lettering at the bottom was penciled. He says, “I have this idea, it’s this psychedelic lettering that doesn’t say anything.” He carried it to its logical extreme. He made it really hard to read by not putting anything in there. Interestingly enough, it’s amazing how many people have come up to me and told me what that said [laughter] — like a Rorschach. So he had this idea, and down in the lower right-hand corner, I’m going to just have this little balloon that the Family Dog man is saying what’s on the bill. The bill happens to be Chuck Berry. But this is the way we were thinking, you’ve got a Chuck Berry poster and he’s literally a footnote to this poster. Rick says to me, “I got this oval here, that this lettering that goes around, but I don’t know what to put in the oval.” In other words, what’s the main image? His gag was the lettering that went around the side. So I said, “Well, it’s your poster; it’s your commission. Why don’t I do a portrait of you?” So I got this piece of picture glass, held it up, and with a grease pencil, I traced, while holding it still, I traced his face and designed it in such a way so that his mustache became peacocks, his face became a butterfly and in the space in between the butterfly, I put little stars — like outer space. I had him draw in the left side, and I drew on the right, so that we’d have a little bit of both of us in there. And we did the black-and-white drawing in one night.

Neon Rose

MOSCOSO: In ’67, I was selling posters to Australia through my own company, Neon Rose. I had complete control: I commissioned the poster, I designed the poster, I produced the poster and I distributed the poster. And I was getting orders from Australia.

GROTH: How did you set up this company, and when did you do that?

MOSCOSO: After I did “The Man with the Spiral Eyes.” That was such a hit, that on the basis of that poster, primarily, I was able to get a line of credit at a printer’s in Sausalito, Bernie Moss’ shop, colorful place, nice guy. And I did my Junior Wells poster. And I have it right in front of me, so I can give you the date on that, too: Junior Wells, Dec. 27 to Jan. 8, 1966. And it was such a hit that the day that it went up, two distributors were literally knocking on my door wanting to distribute it.

GROTH: Why wouldn’t the ballroom have paid for the printing or printed it itself?

MOSCOSO: They couldn’t afford it. Since I wanted to do event posters, I needed events. I didn’t want to do a white-rabbit poster. I didn’t want to do a Haight-Ashbury poster. I wanted to do an event poster, with the same kinds of musicians that were playing the Avalon and the Fillmore. That’s why I went to the Matrix and offered them the deal. I said, “You want me to do posters for you?” They said, “Sure. We can’t afford it.” I said, “Don’t worry about it. I will give you 200 free posters, and I will run off as many as I want to, or can afford to. And then I will sell those. And meanwhile, you’re getting 200 free posters.” And that was fine with them and me.

It worked with Color, too. After Zap Comix, I went to the Print Mint. We had tried to do a Zap feature film, and I had done a storyboard for my section of it. Of course, we were never able to raise the money. That’s usually where the project ends up. So I had this storyboard, and I said, “Well, I think I’ll do the first all-color underground comic,” so I adapted and re-draw it, doing color separations. Boy, was that a lot of work; I did everything by hand. But first, I called up the Print Mint, who was the distributor of Zap, and I said, “Hey! How would you like to be the exclusive distributor of Color?” At that time, since everything I was doing was selling so well, they said, “Sure.” I said, “You have to give me an advance.” I went to the printer and asked, “How much of an advance to you need?” They told me and I told the Print Mint to send me so-much money to cover the advance. I then did the comic book, had it printed, gave it to the Print Mint, they distributed it and we both made money.

GROTH: So you sort of had this entrepreneurial strain.

MOSCOSO: Yes. And what drove me there was the art; it was to be able to do what I wanted to do. I hated business …

GROTH: But it’s a way of having control over your destiny.

MOSCOSO: Exactly. I had to do it if I wanted to do what I wanted to do.

GROTH: Well, you may have been the first self-publisher.

MOSCOSO: No! Dig this now: Albrecht Dürer would do his etchings, engravings, and his wife would sell them at religious fairs. They have this in Spain; every church has its Saint’s day. Well, that’s big party time, religious-wise and otherwise. I wonder how many children are conceived at religious fairs like that, honoring St. James at Santiago de Compostela or whatever. So, Dürer did the etchings; his wife sold them at the church fairs. So, he had the production and the distribution. When I read that, I said, “My man!” I thought it up, but he thought it up before I did.

GROTH: I was actually referring to comics, specifically.

MOSCOSO: Oh! Crumb was the first, because he published his Zap. He beat me to it, but that’s all right.

GROTH: And there were others. Jaxon did it, and Harvey Kurtzman, Arnold Roth, Will Elder, Jack Davis and Al Jaffee all co-published Humbug together in the ’50s. So there were a few.

MOSCOSO: Oh, I didn’t realize that they were the owners. I knew about Humbug but I didn’t know that they were the owners. That’s probably why they got iced out, because the distribution was still handled by relatively few people, like it is today.

GROTH: It was handled by Mafioso, and that’s why they finally had to give it up.

MOSCOSO: Yes, that I take for granted.

GROTH: So, did you strike this same deal with every ballroom?

MOSCOSO: No. With the Avalon, after a while the 50 bucks went up to 100 bucks, and when the poster shops opened up, we realized that these things are worth more than 100 bucks. These aren’t throw-aways. These are sell-aways. So we approached Chet and said, “Hey, man, we want royalties from this.” So Chet says, “No way!” basically.

GROTH: Wait a minute. You were selling the posters yourself —

MOSCOSO: No, this is before Matrix. In fact, at this point, I had only done one poster for the Family Dog, and that was the Stone Façade. First, there was Wes Wilson, then there was Mouse and Kelley and I was the only other artist in the group at the time. No other artist had done a poster for the Family Dog for Chet, after Chet took over. And I remember that’s the first time I talked to Wes Wilson. He called me up and said, “Hey, look …” because it was mostly his and Mouse and Kelley’s posters that were being sold. Mine wasn’t doing shit. But they figured they’d nail it down by getting every artist, including myself, to approach Chet and say, “Hey, we want royalties from this. After all, you’re selling them.” That wasn’t the way it was when we started. And Chet said, “No.” And so we said, “OK, we’re going to boycott you.” At that point, Chet said, “Well, OK. So we settled on 20 percent of the profits from the posters. So, each artist would receive 20 percent of the royalties from the sale of that poster, after the poster had been designed. You know, we got our initial payment of 100 dollars regardless. A hundred big ones. It sounds ridiculous, today. At that time, it was a lot of money. Well, not a lot of money; it was a respectable amount.

GROTH: So then it was after that when you struck this deal, when you came up with the idea of doing the poster free, and then being able to print it yourself.

MOSCOSO: Yeah, because the boycott had happened sometime around September ’66, and I did the deal with the Matrix in December of ’66.

GROTH: So the five of you formed a guild of sorts and just refused to do work for them.

MOSCOSO: Right. And since, Mouse and Kelley and especially Wes were the big sellers, Chet thought wisely. Are you going to get rid of the Michelangelo, Leonardo and Botticelli of posters? Come on, man.

GROTH: Did you start Neon Rose at this point?

MOSCOSO: No, I started that in December of ’66.

GROTH: So you started your own company, and drew the posters and sold them yourself. How did you create a network of buyers?

MOSCOSO: One, by selling them to the Berkeley Bonaparte. They were a distribution company and a poster producer and distributor in Berkeley. Through I used to sell posters to Peter Geller, Tom Berg of Pomegranate Press, and then got orders through the mail from poster stores in other cities and countries.

GROTH: Were you comfortable in this role, keeping records and keeping all the financial stuff straight and so forth?

MOSCOSO: Well, I would never say I was comfortable when it comes to bookkeeping and all that crap. But, if you want to pay your bills, if you have a family, you do things you don’t want to do because otherwise they come and knock you on the back of the head. In other words, if you don’t pay your bills and you have bill collectors knocking on your door, how creative can you get? Bill collectors are knocking on the door, you’re not going to be letting the muse fall on the page. It don’t work that way. It’s interference.

GROTH: So you just considered this a necessary thing to do.

MOSCOSO: You had to do it. It was the mature thing to do.

GROTH: And you were married and had a daughter from a previous marriage.

MOSCOSO: Right, and now I was married and we were going to have a son.

GROTH: So you were going to be a father a second time. That’s always sobering.

MOSCOSO: Nothing changes your life like having children, if you care about them. I’ve known men who just walk away from their children. I don’t understand that. For me, it’s like, “Hey, what’s wrong with you? This is your blood.”

GROTH: Crumb had a kid in ’68 or ’69 —

MOSCOSO: Must have been ’68, because I remember Jesse was just a little baby then.

GROTH: — but I don’t think any of the other underground cartoonists had kids that early.

MOSCOSO: Yes. Rick Griffin had Flavin in ’67. I remember she was a little baby when he lived on Petrero Hill.

GROTH: And Kim Deitch and Trina Robbins had a daughter, so it was less uncommon than I thought.

Collaborating with Rick

Griffin’s “Omo Bob Rides South,” Zap Comix #6 © 1972 Rick Griffin.

MOSCOSO: Rick developed the way we did it in those days. He’d take the illustration board and the printer would make a neg. He would then get the illustration board and would put blueprint solution on it. He would expose the key-line drawing, that was what would be printed black. It was the first poster that I’d done with black, because Rick used black. He would then expose this onto the illustration board, so that you’d have exactly the same drawing on three different boards: red, yellow, blue. And then when we’d get that, we took it home, and then the next night, after I did a color sketch, to figure out what things were going to be — we’d follow the sketch — and then we’d draw on the boards, the color separations by hand, and they fit exactly in, because the key lines had been burned into it. They key line is white, just like a blueprint. And that’s because Lou, the printer that we were working with, had started in the trade a long time ago — in fact, when he started, they were still printing and doing labels off of stone — well, he knew about blueprints, and he and Rick came up with what we call “blue lines” so that we could have perfect registration and continue the drawing into the color on illustration board, not acetate, which handles differently; it doesn’t have the tooth. So, we did that, and it was fun, man.

They don’t tell you this in art school, but one of the problems that an artist has to deal with is loneliness, unless you’re working in an advertising agency. They don’t teach you how to handle the loneliness of working alone, all by yourself. You’re not a performing artist.

When Rick and I worked together, we’d often be able to solve the other’s problem. I’m working on my part, and then he hands me this thing that I never would have dreamt of. Not only is it a perfect solution, but it’s a surprise, because it’s coming from another mind. It’s not like my subconscious coming up with something new, something that I could not have thought of. It was really exciting. Later on, when we did this in Zap Comix, we called them “jams,” after jam sessions where you can trade lines, trade licks with another musician. I really dug it and so did Rick, and we went on to do maybe six other poster collaborations, and every one of them was good.

GROTH: Was every one of them done with the two of you in the same place at the same time?

MOSCOSO: Yeah. That’s how we worked. It worked perfectly. And the nice thing about Rick — you know, usually there’s an idea man, like with Mouse and Kelley, or Chet and Wes Wilson. There’s an idea man and a drawing man. Well, with Griffin and I, we were both equal. I could draw anything; he could draw anything. He could come up with any idea; I could come up with any idea. And the trade off was very interesting. I kind of ended up being the art director on a good part of the posters. He was the art director on the first poster, as far as what it’s going to look like. But we could trade off any function. If any one of us got into a problem in any area, we’d just throw it to the other guy.

GROTH: That sort of collaboration has to be pretty unusual, two artists with strong voices who compliment each other.

MOSCOSO: Who don’t have the ego, which gets in the way. That’s usually the key problem; how to handle your egos. After all, if you can only use one idea, well, whose is it going to be? Well, if it’s going to be the other guy’s, you’d better get with it, man. ’Cause if you’re fighting it, it’s not going to work.

GROTH: Did you consciously reign in your ego?

MOSCOSO: No! Luckily it worked out. It just worked. That’s the best explanation I can give you. We never had to say, “OK, let’s talk. You go now.” We never had anything approaching that. All we did is stay with the work. The job told us what to do. And it was obvious. I remember on the Iron Butterfly poster — which ended up being a set with the Jimi Hendrix poster because he had gotten both commissions at the same time — at one point early on, here I am drawing a Challenge Butter deer, only because it was the Iron Butterfly, we were going to make it look like it was cast iron, and at one point we both looked at it and said, “This is shit.” Being off the wall is all right if it works, but this one wasn’t working. And then we backed up and started all over again. And that’s when I said, “Hey, wait a minute. Let’s do a diptych. Let’s do a set.” And, since it was his commission, I said, “Since they’re your posters, we’re going to use your images.” So we used his beetle for the Jimi Hendrix, and what we refer to as the “trash burner” — it’s kind of an Indian motif, it’s round with horns — but we used that one, which I drew that one looked like it was metal for Iron Butterfly. And he did the beetle for Jimi Hendrix. It just seemed right; the logic is no more explainable than that. It just felt right to do those images. I was using Rick’s images, but I was doing the layout. And then we agreed on it — neither Rick nor I ever did anything that we didn’t want to do. Everything that we did, we wanted to do. We agreed to it, and we would work those out in sketches. And when we’d agree on the sketches, then we would start in on the boards. There were two boards. So, we’d start with the key-line drawing. He would do one and then we’d pass it back and forth, because there were sections that we worked on: He would do the top couple of lines of lettering and I would do the lower couple of lines of lettering, imitating him, so that people would think that it was all his lettering. We were playing these little in-tricks. Who’s playing the saxophone now? I can’t tell, man. Again, it just worked out excellently.

GROTH: Where were you living at this point?

MOSCOSO: I was living just above Mission Dolores Park, which is over the hill from the Haight-Ashbury. And Rick was living on Petrero Hill — it’s toward the Bay, not far from Hunter’s Point and what was the Navy Shipyard, but not that far from the San Francisco Bay.

GROTH: Tell me a little about Griffin. Why do you think you guys got along so well, and what was he like?

MOSCOSO: Well, he was a very quiet fellow, though he could be very verbal. In fact, he even signed one of his posters “The Dumb One,” meaning “mute.” And he was in public, for the most part. He wasn’t very talkative. Privately was a different story, he could be very verbal. I got to know him very well professionally. We would talk about surfing because I like the idea of surfing, but I’ve never surfed. He was a surfer and stayed a surfer. Not only that, he was a legend already. In his teens, he did a comic strip, “Murphy,” in Surfer magazine. The surfers were hip to him. And he was, the way Mouse was in the hot-rod car, T-shirt business. He was supporting his family when he was a teen-ager. Where Mouse already had a reputation in his circle, Rick already had his reputation in his circle. That was as a comics artist, directed at the surfers. So, when I met him, he already was a famous artist. However, he wasn’t famous in the posters yet. In fact, I didn’t think there was any room on the train. I thought the train was already pulling out of the station when I hopped on, as it was. And then when I thought the train was already out of the station, Rick came running down the tracks and jumped on. And whereas before, I’d been looking to Wes Wilson, Mouse and Kelley for direction, after a while, it was Rick who turned me on to doing comics.

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