The Austin Chronicle

Pleasant Unpleasantries

By Guy Juke, September 6, 2002, Music

One day in the early Eighties, I received a phone call from the Ramones' management informing me, in apologetic tones, that a piece of my art had been inadvertently borrowed to produce a Ramones record cover. The graphics firm M & Company had, according to this manager type, lifted my image from an ad placed in the New York Rocker, a popular music mag of the day, without his knowledge, and it was of course too late to do anything about it seeing as it was already printed and ready for distribution. Not only that, but in the meantime, this bastardized version of my design had won a prestigious national award. What to do?

The manager then insisted upon sending me a check for the comforting sum of $250 to make everything all right. Hmmmmm ... Thank you very much. After consulting with a few New York lawyers, it was decided that I should probably just take the money and enjoy my new AGAA award and fabulous exposure, though I remained uncredited on the record cover.

Shortly after these events transpired, I received another phone call from New York. This time it was a very nice fellow by the name of Tybor, the graphic artist from M & Co. He felt compelled to explain to me that he had not stolen my image of his own volition, but rather was forced to appropriate it by the aforementioned manager, who threatened to take his rather sizeable account elsewhere if his demands were not met. I thanked him for calling and hung up.

So who do I trust? The manager/lawyer or my fellow graphic artist? I will probably never know for sure, but I did receive the award, a rather heavy little prize with sharp edges, which I clumsily dropped on my toe. I might also add that Tybor and the gang at M & Co. sent me the very thoughtful Christmas present of a pricey little bottle of cognac. I've been drinking it ever since.

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