All Hail Manny Moe & Jack!

What better place to start than where I started. Twenty-three years before I existed, Manny Rosenfeld, Moe Strauss, and  Jack Jackson founded an auto parts store in Philadelphia, and the world beheld The Pep Boys. The countless versions of their matchbook, such as the one pictured below, live on as sort of the Mount Rushmore of matchbooks.

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Why am I telling you this? Because I owe my career to Manny Moe & Jack. Somewhere in my life, the matchbook has cast a spell on me that's never been broken. So, one afternoon in Philadelphia in the late '60s, I decided to re-create a large slick version of The Pep Boys matchbook. Somehow I had learned about Cello-tak colors, but I'd never even seen an air brush. So, I created the red background with Magic Marker, which, believe it or not, came in aerosol spray cans back then.

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Anyway, I was so spellbound by this thing, I decided to build a whole portfolio around it, which I did. Cut to the early '70s. Nobody else was working like this, so it was hard to sell. I had been dragging my portfolio up to New York each Wednesday and leaving it at magazines and record companies. Once in a while, somebody would have a use for it. Somewhere along the line, Atlantic Records and Peter Wolf, lead singer for The J. Geils Band, saw what I was doing and hired me to illustrate the band's next album. Arena-style rock concerts were the thing back then, and I was going to a lot of them. No one could touch the Geils Band for live performance, even The Stones, which I was lucky enough to see once up close on a press pass at Philadelphia’s Spectrum Arena.

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 The art director designed the package so that the inner sleeve was the phone receiver. CD packaging design can be jim dandy, but there was nothing like having that twelve inches of cardboard to play with.

The art director designed the package so that the inner sleeve was the phone receiver. CD packaging design can be jim dandy, but there was nothing like having that twelve inches of cardboard to play with.

 My portrait of the band for the original back cover was used again for the "Best of The J. Geils Band Two" LP. Hard to find, but obviously still being listened to in Japan somewhere.

My portrait of the band for the original back cover was used again for the "Best of The J. Geils Band Two" LP. Hard to find, but obviously still being listened to in Japan somewhere.

 Joe Franklin (1926-2015) was a late-night TV talk show host, and his on-air presence was welcome companionship to NY illustrators on lonely all-night deadlines. He devoted an entire show to having The J. Geils Band on as his sole guests. And looky looky what he's displaying in his famously cluttered office! Thanks to Drew Friedman for sending me the photo.

Joe Franklin (1926-2015) was a late-night TV talk show host, and his on-air presence was welcome companionship to NY illustrators on lonely all-night deadlines. He devoted an entire show to having The J. Geils Band on as his sole guests. And looky looky what he's displaying in his famously cluttered office! Thanks to Drew Friedman for sending me the photo.