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Jun 9, 2014

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EXCLUSIVE: Suckadelic Studio Visit

It's not every day that you get a call from the Super Sucklord, inviting you to his workshop.

When he calls, you show up. One thing I've learned from my years of knowing Morgan is that you gotta show up with beer. This time he had his own (and he was disgusted by the cheap swill I brought) so I got to drink both the beer I brought for myself, as well as the beer I brought for him. Win.

Turns out the Sucklord's current digs are on the same floor as Buff Monster's studio, which I also got to tour... without my camera, at Buff's request. Sorry everyone!

When I walked in, this is exactly what was happening: the Sucklord and the Crystal Pharaoh were at a table, going through 70s-era men's magazines, looking for amusing and aesthetically interesting pages. In case you don't follow the Super Sucklord, his Suckadelic brand was founded on the concept of the bootleg toy. His iterations of Star Wars bootleg-style toys get spun with his own bawdy concepts and impure thoughts, and packaged into well-executed custom action figure blister cards which, in my opinion, elevates the concept from straight bootlegging into an artform.

You see, I've had this conversation many times before with all kinds of different people: what is art? What defines the concept of "art"? My brother the lawyer has his own interpretation- some things I consider art, he does not. And, to each his own, of course. The Super Sucklord and I differ in our opinions as well. I ALREADY think that the consistently well-executed bootleg figures he got famous for making are, in fact, a niche form of pop art. The Suckadelic bootleg pieces draw upon imagery which is built into our psyche, as 30-40 somethings growing up in the Star Wars era.

But the Sucklord will be the first to tell you that Star Wars-related bootleg figures have been overdone. It's not like the Sucklord did it first, it's just that he did it early, and the most, and in the most public way. Dressing up in the custom Boba Fett helmet and making dozens (hundreds?) of public appearances in character as the Super Sucklord pretty much solidified his place at the top. And possibly netted him the reality-show screen time he enjoyed recently. He just doesn't consider bootleg figures to be "art."

So what now? Everyone's doing Star Wars rips. There are about 20 to 50 people actively creating bootleg-style toys in small multiples of 10 or 20 or 50. Morgan knows the artform he is famous for isn't so unique anymore. So when I walked in, he and the Crystal Pharaoh were poring over a stack of Playboys, looking for interesting pages to use in the new Suckadelic Suck Panels. Suck-Panels are, in my opinion, the natural progression of the Suckadelic bootleg-style multiple: they are all one of a kind pieces of art. Still referencing the same era (late 70s) but moving into new themes.

I personally think these new pieces are awesome... the Suckadelic keystone product has shifted from purposefully-crappy bootleg figures to one-off pieces of mixed-media pop art. The fact that Suck-Panels have some sort of plastic toy (or in some cases, random object) encased in a blister becomes simply a nod to the evolution of the Suckadelic brand- the plastic figure is part of the piece, but not all of it.

More importantly, he's having fun again. You can see Morgan is excited about creating the Suck-Panels, and really as an artist, that's what's important. I wish that for every artist I know- I wish for them to be perennially excited to create their art. When you lose that drive and that interest, it's time to mix things up and head in a new direction. That's what I see happening with Suckadelic.

There will be a few gripes about any new direction an artist takes. There was a post on the Galactic Jerkbags forum that lamented the fact that all the recent Suckadelic releases were one-offs: "as much as I love the Sucklord's work, my enthusiasm wanes a bit with each new piece that I'll more than likely never see in person."

Hate to break it to ya, Captain Completist, but that's the deal with most art: there's only one of each piece. It's up to you to do what you gotta do to acquire that piece.

Other Sucklord fans were more enthusiastic: "I used to love making collages and assemblages so this is really inspiring to see old stuff turned new."

And I think that's exactly the point: Suckadelic is mixing it up while still retaining the 70s vibe, and at the same time the Sucklord is reinvigorating the exclusivity that his earlier, smaller-run pieces had. If you want to snag some Suckadelic bootleg action figures made in multiples, you can always head to the Suck Store.

But if you wanna add the new Suck-Panels to your pop art collection, you're going to have to follow @sucklord on Instagram. As he puts it here: "if you really want one, you'll find a way to get it."

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