Thursday, June 14, 2007

THE LEGACY OF MAD MARC RUDE


In honor of Mad Marc Rude's birthday I'm posting the memorial I wrote 5 years ago for Destroying Angels, just days after learning that this legend of underground art would never drink, fight, fuck, or draw again. Hail the Zombie King! Happy Birthday, Marc Rude...

GOVERNMENTAL BLACK DOTS
The Legacy of Mad Marc Rude

I was laying on my couch watching My Bloody Valentine when, for the second time in one year, my own heart was torn loose. I had just come off a 13 hour non-stop marathon finishing up a drawing for deadline and watching stupid canucks pickaxe each other was all I could do to stay awake. The phone rang twice and we ignored it. Then a third time. Meadow checked the voicemail and it sounded like someone was trying to call collect. When the phone rang a fourth time she caught it and received a collect message from Las Vegas, Nevada. Mad Marc Rude was dead. Over the past year and a half I had spent months trying to track him down. It seems legend followed Marc like a shadow and he left a trail of urban myths, burnt friendships, dead-end leads, and art in his wake. Always the art. He was a specter missing in action and already more than a few people had chalked him up as a goner. Not so. He was simply underground, as he had been for more than 20 years. Mad Marc Rude (a.k.a., Marc Hoffman) was one of the original fathers of underground punk art.


Rude was old school back when the "Old School" was just a snot nose runt. In 1983 he spent more than 300 hours drawing the zombie epic album art for `Earth A.D.', the Misfits' proto-thrash classic. He was 29 years old. Now I'm no spring chicken, but back in 1983 I was still excited about Iron Maiden's new singer, the "Air Raid Siren", and sitting in my bedroom making badly drawn comics about ninja crime fighters. Marc was already well known for the artwork he had done for a local San Diego band, which he also managed at the time, called Battalion of Saints. Those insanely detailed album covers for Battalion of Saints, including lyric sheet art for songs like 'Cops Are Out', and the countless show flyers he designed are now relics of the first wave of hardcore punk. Although he later transcended the simple stigma of "punk artist" Marc's early drawings helped set the standard for D.I.Y. aesthetics that gave shape to the emerging southern California scene. Throughout the years he would tattoo his way back and forth across the country several times, up and down both coasts, and provide album cover art for Tex & The Horseheads, Hirax, The Offspring, The GC5, and many more. Art was so much a part of Marc's life that to call his accomplishments a career would be an understatement. He was one of a rare breed of artists who truly lived for his art. No art school shit, no fine art sellout, no compromises. Marc was an outlaw artist until his final day. The events leading up to that day are as extraordinary as his frenetic life and the official cause of death unclear. Marc had his demons and it seems they took a heavy toll. But all that is of little consequence now and it's really nobody's damn business anyway. Once again the world was too stupid, too insensitive, too busy to understand the mad visions of its living artists.


When I finally caught up with Marc he was nearly destitute, recently remarried, and pushing ink in Vegas. I sent him some of my drawings and asked if he would be interested in an interview for my zine. He responded by inviting me down to visit him and his old friend and current wife Lyn Todd. He would do the interview, share with me his recent work, and show me the town. I told him I had to wait until my tax-return check came so I could buy a plane ticket. When Lyn called to tell me he was dead I wasn't surprised. In our last brief phone conversation he had sounded old and tired when he told me I should try to visit soon because he didn't know how much longer he would be there. I thought he meant Vegas. When Lyn told me I was one of the first people she called I was a little disturbed. I had never even met him. Had Marc alienated himself from everyone in his life so much that nobdoy cared? She told me that two days before he died they received a package I had sent. It contained a copy of a drawing I had just finished, a portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald, and a short note telling him that I was still waiting for that fucking check to arrive. She said she could see Marc's spirit in the drawing and knew that I must have been inspired by his early work. She said that it had pleased Marc in his final days to know that someone cared so much about his art and that this younger artist had taken up the proverbial sword. Three days after she told me all this the tax-return check arrived.


The soul of the world is diminished when we lose artists like Marc Rude. Marc survived where most would fear to tread. Where eagles dare, as the song goes. He thrived in the dark places, permanently off the grid, those governmental black dots. Marc told me that his art always saved him. It could be argued in hindsight that art was the only consistent thread in his do-or-die existence. Family disappeared, friendships fell apart, musical trends ebb and flowed with the seasons, but Marc's fantastically stippled art was the one thing he could really take into his hands and control. And Marc's art is all about discipline and control. It takes hours and hours of confident patience to transform those tiny black dots into textured images. He put in the hours. One of his last major projects was a collection of 32 illustrations he created for Blag Dahlia's novel Armed To The Teeth With Lipstick. He spent 18 hours a day poised over the paper working on those drawings. I suggest everyone stop reading now and go find a copy of that book. Marc spent hours perfecting the delicate folds of clothing, the cracked forms of statues, the shine of leather and chrome, and the subtle expressions of the desperate characters it became his life's work to document. The skulls, the flesh, the clowns, the freaks, these are not mere artistic devices. This was his life. Marc said it best himself, "I firmly believe that there are some people that are born alternative, it's genetic and...it's in our hearts. We always go to the other side of the fence, it's the only way we can live, we're outlaws, we're an extension of every fuckin' outlaw that ever existed." Strange to miss a man you've never even met. But certainly stranger things are happening. And the sheep are still scared.

Dennis Dread
2002

Mad Marc Rude
1954-2002
R.I.P.

13 comments:

Sean the Sean said...

fantastic piece dennis.

Leon said...

One of my favorite pieces of Mad Marc Rude's art is the "Ed Gein" flyer he did for THE MISFITS. Nice tribute, Dennis.

__ Clint __ said...

So can someone check out my Misfits postcard, and tell me if this was Marc Rude? I had it attributed as Pushead, but 1 person came in and told me it was Marc Rude -- can someone verify it? With a comment at the picture, not here? Thanks:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/clintjcl/200483866/

Dennis Dread said...

Clint~ I don't have a Flickr account but your Misfits postcard was certainly drawn by Mad Marc Rude (not Pushead). If you ever get a chance to look at that flyer up close you'll see Marc's signature written very small to the left of the Misfits logo at the bottom. Marc's art was frequently attributed to the wrong artist. Even after his death, Juxtapose magazine did a memorial article to Rude and incorrectly printed a flyer by another L.A. artist named Lee. So it goes...

ctownhood said...

Marc did the artwork for my band's (Murder-Suicide Pact) 2 records. He was an amazing artist and a punk legend

Dennis Dread said...

I have both M-S Pact records. The crazy doctor/lobotomist! Lots of good detail in those drawings. Around that same time Marc also did a pretty cool t-shirt design for Electric Frankenstein.

Anonymous said...

CLINT... Thats a flyer from San Diego.... Tim Maze productions at the NORTH PARK LIONS CLUB... Mad Marc Rude all the way. His flyers are legendary.... check the cover of the Battalion of Saints 12"

Twigman

alifefullofholes said...

I remember playing pool with Marc and hanging out at the Lion's club,ETC

Lost touch with all those faces ages ago ( most for the better lot of backstabbing assholes ) but Marc is one of the few I remember fondly,if hazy.

I had no idea he died.

iris berry said...

Dennis, This piece that you wrote for Marc, is incredible and pretty right on the money. Thank you. The part that really got me is where you say, "When Lyn told me I was one of the first people she called I was a little disturbed. I had never even met him. Had Marc alienated himself from everyone in his life so much that nobody cared?” Dennis, the answer to that question is no. EVERYONE cared. He was just MIA. Marc exiled himself. He left town in such a tizzy. Everyone loved Marc and missed him and had been looking for him for years. Why he alienated himself, I don't know if we will ever know. I have some theories that I won’t go into here. But, honestly, I don't even think Marc knew himself. Everyone wanted to help. But he wouldn't let them. He left town in so much trauma, he just couldn't catch a break. The murder of his sister while he was living with her in New York was such a blow. The details are gruesome and really took him down, of course It did. Along with his son Loren, Wendy, was his last family member. The effects of Wendy’s death colored the decisions that Marc made, that paved the trail, taking him farther and farther away from his friends, his family and eventually himself, prior to his death. How could it not. But to set the record straight, Marc’s heart was in L.A. and he was trying to get back here. Los Angeles was his true home. When he died, I had a huge memorial for him at Mark Mahoney’s tattoo shop, Shamrock Tattoo. The turnout was huge. There’s a whole community of people in Los Angeles, who love and respect Marc, and were and are deeply effected by his loss, think of him fondly, with great tales and endless anecdotes. And mostly just miss his giant spirit and his huge artistic contributions. He made a huge impact historically, that will never be forgotten. With deep sorrow, Iris Berry.

Dennis Dread said...

Iris, thank you so much for your comment. You knew and loved Marc in a way very few ever could and I really appreciate your heartfelt honesty here. The eulogy card that Loran gave me from your Shamrock Tattoo memorial will always have a place above my drawing table.

"Send me dead flowers every morning..."

My best to you, Iris, as well as Loran Rude and all those who loved Marc and continue to be inspired by his amazing art!
~Dennis

Lyn Todd Rude said...

Nearly eight years after Marc's death this article rears it's mostly untrue, ugly head again...You re-publish it over and over again in any format you can scrape up. Why do you find it unusual for a married couple (soon to have celebrated our 7th anniversary) to relocate for a well paying new job? Marc couldn't find work in L.A. You were one of the first people I called to prevent you from spending your tax refund check on what I assumed would be a nonrefundable discount plane ticket? Being that Marc had been dying in the hospital for a week & sick for a week before that I had forgotten to pay the phone bill, so I apologize for calling collect. I'd be happy to refund whatever you put out for that 5 minute phone call. Just give me an address and I'll send you a check. Marc had not alienated himself from anyone, WE simply moved out of Hollywood and on with our lives. We bought a condo in Las Vegas and had guests from L.A. and NYC several times per month. Marc was a workahoic and not nearly destitute. I was Marc's second wife, not his 'current wife'. He'd been married one time before when he was 19 years old. You make Marc sound like a pathetic old man in this article. And, I never said "It pleased Marc in his finale days to know that someone cared so much about his art and that this younger artist had taken up the proverbial sword." A good majority of this article is self serving B.S. I'm tired of seeing it, Marc was a brilliant artist and a wonderful man, and husband with countless loving friends, and fans all over the world, and I will never stop defending him!

Dennis Dread said...

Thanks for your comment, Lynn. Unfortunately, this is very similar to the message you sent to me via myspace a few years ago. I'm dumbfounded as to how you misread my writing or why you feel Marc Rude needs any defending here. You and I enjoyed several polite phone conversations in the weeks following Marc's death and you never expressed any disagreement or frustration with my writing. Why the odd reactionary stance toward my eulogy all these years later? I wrote this as a fan in the spirit of celebrating and honoring his artistic legacy. My objective has been abundantly clear to everyone who has read it...except you. So, while this blog isn't a forum for personal communication or muckraking, I feel obligated to address your comment once and for all.

I've only published this eulogy in two places: first in 2002 in my print zine (which was hand-assembled and distributed in a run of less than 350 xerox copies) and on this blog in 2007 (which, if the comments are any indication, is about as widely read as my print zine). In both instances I consulted with Marc Rude's son, Loran Hoffman, and received consent prior to publishing. I have a standing invitation to remove this blog post immediately if Loran ever requests. In our last communication Loran stated that he appreciated what I wrote about his dad and was pleased to see it remain available to the general public. He certainly didn't feel I had cast his dad as a "pathetic old man" or otherwise defamed his character. The suggestion is absurd.

Regarding my integrity and what you've referred to as "self serving BS", it should be made clear that I have no career goals and no need for punk rock credibility. I certainly never earned a penny from this article and it was never intended to bolster any personal agenda beyond serving as an outlet for grief. I've never claimed to be a historian or biographer and I'm comfortable with what I've written even if the minutia of Marc's life is not 100% accurate. I didn't know him personally. I wrote this memorial just days after I learned of his death and did my best to get the story right and document exactly how I felt in the hours immediately following the news. Over dramatic, sure. But self-serving bullshit? Hardly. This is MY version of the truth. Nothing more, nothing less.

I'm deeply sorry that you lost your husband, Lynn. I'm also sorry that the world lost a great underground artist. But I also find it sad that you feel the need to constantly "defend" Marc from his own fans, friends and admirers. It's ok if you don't agree with what I wrote and it's ok if you think this eulogy is somehow self-serving. I just don't want to hear about it anymore. Perhaps you should write your own memorial and set the record straight. And then try to move on.
Best wishes,
Dennis Dread

Andy Nystrom and Cat Rose said...

Great! Here's some more of Marc's stuff:

http://theressomethinghardinthere.blogspot.com/2011/04/scream-darkness-and-evil-flyers.html