Rebelvis, the fifties king of rock and roll has been stripped of his crown by refusing to fight in the Faraway War. (Rebelvis is so livid he burns his guitar on local tv!) The evil mayor Boss Crunk secretly puts Rebelvis to sleep. At rest in a secret place Rebelvis' hair begins to grow! Then one night his body disappears! Boss Crunk is in a frenzy! Turns out Rebelvis' old mentor Cap'n Whiz casts a sleepwalking spell and helps Rebelvis escape! What a sight it is when the sleeping and haggard troubadour sleepwalks the streets of Memfaux. He looks downright folkie! But Cap'n Whiz doesn't know how to undo the juju and awaken Rebelvis. So Rebelvis sleeps for years and he dreams of being a troubadour. By the time he is awakened by a crowing rooster, the world has changed - and he's a hippie! Rebelvis gets a new haircut and becomes Psychedelvis! In remembrance of those lost souls in the Faraway War (which still rages) Psychedelvis spells his name with an upside down peace symbol. The NEW king of rock and roll that exists in this psychedelic sixties world is in the BE ALL and END ALL of the artistic end game. The intellect of Dylan, the politics of Lennon, the fashion sense of Jones (either Brian or David), and the sleeping habits of Brian Wilson. Trained by the Guru, Psychedelvis karate chops the chords on his guitar to deal IMPACT with his enemies! He surfs his guitar in the dream world of the Hearafter. The rooster is all that can awaken him. Psychedelvis is a redneck Beatle, a "lover not a fighter", a sun king, and his fave color is BLUE.
He's Jesus with a shave! He teaches Kung Fu during the day and his favorite color is PURPLE! Guru plunks away at his old electric bass guitar (painted with an ETERNAL SMILE) - but all guitars are forbidden in Memfaux - so he's gotta be careful. He often makes the peace sign but says it means "Vote for Boss Crunk!". And don't forget the tiny tattoo cross on his back. He trains Psychedelvis in Karate and makes deep statements like "Yes, we can".
A street wise capitalist brother who is all "SOUL'D OUT!" They call him "Flag" cause he showed up at a flag burning and got all sentimental. He saved the flag from being completely burned (intending to sell it) - now he wears it round his neck like a flipped out tie. There are constant ramifications for this act of individuality: Sometimes bricks and water hoses barely miss nailing Flag. He seems to be followed by noiseless & unseen hateful bunch! Flag has big plans to cash in on the revolution but no resources to pull it off. He is a faithful listener to Bang's! BROADCAST and his fave color is GREEN. Oh yeah, Flag has a pet rooster named Rosco! His rooster is the key to awaking Psychedelvis to the new world. Psychedelvis enlists Flag to play drums in his band. "Africa is my Mother and America is my daddy!"
It all started with that famous b/w photo of Rebelvis shaking hands with Boss Crunk - and then their relationship went south when Rebelvis refused to fight. Crunk has run politics in Memfaux for 40 years and he hates ALL color! Now resistance grows stronger to the Faraway War. "Rebelvis started it, now I'll end it! All guitars must be destroyed!"
With Rebelvis a king without a throne and lulled into a dream state, Boss Crunk takes over his mansion overlooking the bluff and turns it into southern headquarters for the Faraway War. There he recruits 'all colors' to fight, until finally there is no color left in Memfaux.
GUITARS AFLAME! (The newspaper shows mounds of burning guitars). He rules out music for sounds of cash registers, canned meat, and mechanization. What really happens to these disappearing people that get drafted? They are fed back into the machine that powers Memfaux! Boss Crunk unveils a massive colorless statue of his head in Town Square. Psychedelvis makes his first appearance in Memfaux by blowing right through the top. "He's flipped his lid!" Color spills everywhere, in every nook and granny! Psychedelvis has arrived! In fear, Boss Crunk now only appears as a TV image, a 'big brother' from then on. Where is the real Boss Crunk? You have to turn him on!
Now hear this! Groupie is crazy and her fave color is ORANGE! Ten years ago Rebelvis signed Groupie's hand (for lack of paper) and she hasn't washed it since! She abides in the Memfaux Asylum, filled with other hysterical women that Rebelvis drove crazy years before. (It's a scientific study Boss Crunk is carrying on to show the dangers of rock and roll). Groupie looks forward to the day when the big breakout will occur, then she will find her 'pop sweetums' and wash her hands of him.
Four little midgets of Beatle persuasion who have incredibly large but SAD eyes (ala the big eyed paintings of Margaret Keane). Their names are Peter, Loring, Heinz, and Margret! At first Psychedelvis befriends them (because they are so cute!), patting them on the head as they run around like little elves. Then he discovers they are really mischievous little gremlins out to get him. Especially when they tie Psychedelvis down (ala Gulliver’s Travels). When Psychedelvis tries to stomp them with his heel, they always escape by becoming ladybugs. Finally Rosco eats them. Their favorite color is PINK.
When the characters or plot lines reach an impasse or when things can get no worse, THANG comes! THANG is foreshadowed by the sound of a locomotive. When THANG arrives it takes everything with it in a gust of tornado-like energy. Often displacing characters or entire scenes in a psychedelic 'one-two punch'. Ex: Psychedelvis and crew might be taken back to the Renaissance for 30 seconds, then back home again. Sometimes THANG makes items fall from the sky and land nearby (like giant ears you can crawl inside!). Any object is a clue to the plot; a word or a shape that figures in later. Eventually Psychedelvis notes that is the broken pieces of Boss Crunk's bust that is falling back down to Memfaux.
The stern but curvaceous secretary of Boss Crunk. She dresses in GRAY and hates the new psychedelic sound. She wishes Psychedelvis would grease his hair back and return to the past. But she keeps these thoughts to herself as she seduces and recruits for the Faraway War.
Once acclimated to the current political climate Psychedelvis takes to wearing sargeant stripes on his byronesque suits as he writes the greatest anti-war record of all time. Psychedelvis will bring the war home to Memfaux! Note: The "peace sergeant" sew-on patch was popular in comic book ads in the late sixties. (Elvis was a real sergeant; Lennon played one on Sgt. Pepper).
A poor little hair stylist who reads French magazines while waiting on customers at her BEAUTIQUE during the day (the old ladies love the beehive while she strives for the French cut). 18 year old "Bang!" dreams of the day when change arrives in Memfaux and she hastens it in via 'BROADCAST', her underground radio show. You see, Bang! is really a DJ who spins old rock and roll records late at night in hidden locations around town. Bang! is a combination of beatle hairstylist Astrid, memphis radio dj's, & 60's girl power - all rolled into one! But she can't help feeling the groupie urge now and then . Is she in love with the music or is it Psychedelvis himself? She plays tambourine in Psychedelvis' band and her favorite color is RED.
This is Guru's talking guitar! It cheers him up when he is down (even though Guru's mouth is fixed in a perpetual grin, it doesn't always mean he's happy). Eternal Smile leads the 'gang' to a secret "Sid & Marty Kroft land" where all instruments live & Guitars rule! There Psychedelvis learns how to surf on his guitar.
Flag's pet rooster. The weather vane symbol of the show made real with it's colorful peacock-like array of tail feathers that stream into the PSYCHEDELVIS logo when it crows (show opener). And that crowing is the only thing that can awaken Psychedelvis when he falls into hypnotic slumber.
The elderly 'stooped over' black man serves as a janitor to the Memfaux Museum, but in reality he was the wizened mentor to Rebelvis. Cap'n Whiz taught Rebelvis the blues out in the country. Now he guards his sleeping body underneath the city in a subway train. Whiz notes that Bang! is a constant fixture around the Rebelvis exhibit in the museum - so he takes a chance on her. He leads Bang! to where Rebelvis sleeps and the rest is cartoon history. Once Psychedelvis is 'born', Cap'n Whiz is given safe haven in the Hear After.
A one-man army against the TV eye that is Boss Crunk. Core takes on the 'machine' in a superhero stance of defiant actions - meanwhile he is a student by day. He has a cool leather jacket (riddled with cartoon violence) with his turtleneck 'look'. His fave color is BLACK! (natch!)
His right fist sends out black and white OP patterns which are an equal match to the percussive shock waves of Psychedelvis striking his guitar! In his left hand are ever-present arrays of schoolbooks: History, Science, and Math.
Core spray paints, smashes, and creates as much anarchy as he can by night - then goes to class during the day. Who would suspect his afro is blowing in the wind? Then it comes time to fight Psychedelvis or work with him. Which will Core choose?
A quizzical young ad exec that was eaten by the machine he built. Then the machine ate itself. Sometimes SUBLIME appears in his own subliminal messages - which flash throughout the episodes. The imagery might be subconscious or surreal. Sometimes the characters might not even notice - but it always comes up later. SUBLIME is generally up to no good, being hired by BOSS CRUNK to play with everyone's mind and buy or say things they don’t need. It is SUBLIME who puts Rebelvis to sleep. His favorite color is YELLOW cause it sells!
The ghastly one who works late hours for Boss Crunk. He is experimenting with rock and roll in the laboratory. He treats rock and roll like a disease that must be eradicated! His favorite color is white. He explains while holding up two beakers, "Here you have country, here you have blues. Mix them together and you have an pregnant teenager!" You can imagine his shock when Psychedelvis (and color) return to Memfaux.
THE HANDSOME HIPPIE (& the PHARM)
He is completely naked folks, except for a pickle barrel! He runs the nudist colony retreat just outside of Memfaux and his fave color is BROWN. When you want to get away from it all and feel real groovy with the barnyard animals (or ride your chopper bare back), The Pharm is the place for you! That is, until the barnyard animals (taking their cues from Rosco the Rooster) decide to revolt! The bone of contention: A plate of fried chicken that someone once knew! The Handsome Hippie comes to Memfaux looking for help to this free-range revolt. A possible compromise? Vegetarianism.
This is Psychedelvis' cornpone cousin straight out of Hooterville! City life has no effect on Kuntry Karlos, and he sure is shy! But he whacks away at his old guitar and will sing you a song in no time 'Lester Flat' - just don't expect him to say much. Very loosely based on the genius that was Carl Perkins.
JERRY LEE LUCIFER
Based on NO ONE in particular, Lucifer is the prime rival to Psychedelvis for the rock and roll youth of Memfaux! He takes no prisoners either! Originally a fire and brimstone singing preacher just back from the Faraway War and feeling all hypnotized and defeated. Whatever instrument he now plays, he sets on fire! He is all over the television with commercials about bromo-seltzer and butane lighters! What he seeks is a rock and roll showdown with Psychedelvis! What he reveals is a tormented soul. Goodness Gracious!
THE NEVER-QUITE-HAPPENED WORLD OF PSYCHEDELVIS
"Welcome to the comic book underground town that Psychedelvis built up, and Priscillavis tore down."
PSYCHEDELVIS came to me on the (platform) heels of comic book characters Helvis and Rebelvis as a necessary component of how I understood Sixties rock and roll mythology from my own backyard. Since Elvis ruled that backyard, it became an intriguing puzzle as to how to fit the King of Rock and Roll into a musical decade that he, purportedly, almost missed. Now, I don't quite believe that at all, but I'm afraid that is the PERCEPTION.
PSYCHEDELVIS lived in my sketchbooks circa 90-'92 (and later in 2001, see FIXATION)- and made a cameo in my Fantagraphics Comics in 1993. In 1994, Hippie Mike (of Helium Grape) played PSYCHEDELVIS in my feature "DAMSELVIS, DAUGHTER OF HELVIS" (shot at the Lorraine Hotel, no less.)
In 2002, I saw PSYCHEDELVIS as a white-clad, greek god, so loved by his queen Priscillavis and killed by Rachel the Groupie in a live rock opera to be performed at the old Memphian Theatre where Elvis had attended movies in the Sixties and Seventies. I thought that a rock opera having to do with a "psychedelic Elvis" arising from the home front would be a fantastic thing to nurture and promote, and quite different from the same old stage tours from the East Coast that inundated our live theatres.
After making a handful of feature films with mostly local talent, now I wanted Bob Fosse types to come out of the woodwork. Midtown musicians Shelby Bryant (Cris Clarity) and Paul Woodard (Poli Sci Clone) staged an elaborate presentation for the powers that (still) be. But the response was tepid. The conclusion was there "wasn't enough talent in town to perform it." (This audition tape still exists).
In my last, great attempt to give the character a conceptual home, I studied (and lived) the great 'wavy gravy' art of the late sixties (Yellow Submarine, Stax LP covers, 'Chocks Vitamin' ads, and the most AMAZING drive-in intermission short film I have ever stumbled across, called simply, "Refreshment Time" (see ANIMATION on this page). If PSYCHEDELVIS could ever live as an animation, the "Refreshment Time" would be as major an influence in tone and potential chaotic style as "Yellow Submarine" or "Fantastic Planet".
As Poli Sci Clone and I had continued to collaborate on a sound that would constitute the core of PSYCHEDELVIS, yet have nothing to do with Elvis music in general, a series of promo spots were produced at Scott Taylor's home studio. We took samples of Poli Sci Clone music and interspersed with movie trailer hyperbole with whoever might have dropped in. Click on VIBRATIONS #1-3 to hear these whacked out promos. Shelby Bryant also re-created the score to the "Refreshment Time" animation (VIBRATION #4)
How does Elvis figure into this? Not as the real person at all. Rather in the things he did, and the things he did not do. The things we meant to do. Perhaps even if we are very lucky, Psychedelvis is the thing he wishes he had done.
PSYCHEDELVIS could be the animated feature that Elvis never did. It could have been released in 1968, the same year as The Beatles "Yellow Submarine".
Therefore, "'68 Comeback Meets Yellow Submarine."
HG Ray designed some beautiful colors and layout schemes around my drawings. I gave some initial concepts to Blaine Capatch, who was a producer from Comedy Central and a very funny stand-up comedian. Blaine wrote three scripts in the psychedelic Summer of 2003. (see VERBALIZATION).
The Lamplighter, our neighborhood newspaper here in Cooper-Young, published a PSYCHEDELVIS cover story in 2003 (see PUBLICATION). In 2004, Illustrator NAOMI from the Chihauhau Planet (who had provided illustrations for my SHINE ON SWEET STARLET LP) drew impressionistic versions of the characters BANG, PSYCHEDELVIS, and BANG. Thank you, Naomi! Also in PUBLICATION you will find a 45 record cover sleeve I illustrated for two bands called THE DRUGS that featured PSYCHEDELVIS fighting my rendition of Jack Kirby's DC comic character THE DEMON.
All of this crazy pop culture energy was pitched to Cartoon Network in 2004. They said it was "too smart for television." That response pretty much summed up the decade for me. Another well-meaning, back-handed compliment with no comments or further suggestions on how to climb that almighty ladder where all my idols are waiting. So I came home, cancelled my cable, and made BROAD DAYLIGHT.
PSYCHEDELVIS was to be locked in the Guerrilla Monster vaults, to be unleashed upon my death, or better yet - how about we put this out for the world to see on Wednesday? Anyone up for a web series? Can we put some of this so-called technology to use and have some quick and easy fun?
I am open to exploration. After all, I created PSYCHEDELVIS.
March 20, 2012
"Psychedelvis" and all supporting characters, writing, drawing, and concepts, Copyright 2012 Mike McCarthy.
Menu Layout and Color Cel design - HG Ray. Webpage Design by RBH.
Music owned and published by POLI SCI CLONE (with the exception of "Refreshment Time" by Shelby Bryant)