Do you respect paper? If so, you’ll prefer to see what this page actually looked like in the mag.
John Lucero and board graphics go way baaack, before even he started Lucero Limited, that was going to become Black Label. Before even team-hoping through the ’80s between G&S, Variflex (twice), Zorlac, Santa Cruz, Madrid and Schmitt Stix, the eminent member of the La Mirada Rad Cats -the local crew complete with a logo arranged a la Dogtown cross- was already drawing logos on stickers in high school for his imaginary board companies such as Hot Sticks, sometimes handing them to pros at contests, only to see them displayed under their boards in magazines.
The real deal came later, when Lucero started skating for Madrid and got a job screen-printing decks at their warehouse. “They had this tiny factory,” he remembers, “the guys were like, we’re silk screening Suicidal Skates today. When I lifted that screen, it felt so cool. I actually stashed one away and kept it.” Besides, whose art got more tattoed on skaters’ skins in the past 25 years? And so on.
There could be a million other examples to illustrate a very simple point: street-skating pioneer John Lucero and memorable board graphics just go hand in hand. Here are only five from the boxes and boxes he had to pile up on the Black labels’ warehouse floor to do this thing.
“This one is a prototype, it never came out. I hand drew and painted five of them, two which I kept, and three of them went to trade shows for Variflex to show. There weren’t a lot of skull graphics at the time yet, but I guess for this particular trade show Pushead had drawn some graphics for Zorlac, the John Gibson graphic, and it became all the rage.
When the Variflex dudes came back, they said, ‘Pushead graphics are what we need.’ I knew Pushead, so I called him and asked him if he wanted to do my board, but he couldn’t cause he was doing all the stuff for Zorlac. He gave me his buddy XNO’s number though, which led to my actual first pro-model, the Bondage Chick board.
It’s funny to think that if they hadn’t seen the Pushead stuff at this tradeshow they probably would have gone with this one. It was gonna get made, but last-minute Pushead fever hit. I really thought after that that my graphics weren’t good enough to be on skateboards.”
“When Pushead told me he couldn’t do my board, he was like ‘You know what though? I have a friend in Tennesse named XNO, he can draw some of the craziest graphics for you.’ He gave me his number, Chet Darmstadtler is his name, and he sent me a bunch of comic books and zines that he was doing. When I got them I was blown away.
I sent him a template of the board with where the holes for the trucks are, he drew all this kinda punk bondage, really weird dark stuff, always guys chained down. I said, ‘Hey man, I like what you do, how about a bondage chick on top of this guy?’ He just came up with it and it looked awesome.
Variflex went for it, they made about 200 of the first round and sent them out. A lot of the stores sent them right back. They said it was the most disgusting graphic they’ve ever seen, please take it back. That was that, probably only 400 of them were done.”
“At the Huntington beach contest that year, I got third place and ran into Jerry Madrid, he knew us cause he grew up pretty much in the same town I grew up in. He was down to make me the board that Santa Cruz, where I went after Variflex, never would. This one is the first production board that I got to draw my own graphics for.
At the time, I was influenced mainly by punk music, and always liked just demonic kinda joker guys. The only thing that didn’t come out the way I wanted on it is that I wanted a fluorescent pink board. And Jerry couldn’t quite get it to work. He came up with the bright green board, which worked, then we got a few runs of this lavender purple color.
I wanted fluorescent real bad cause it was the ’80s and I’d shop in Hollywood and buy fluoresecnt socks. All the stuff that was coming out of England, they had this stores called Posers and Let It Rock. It was awful shit too, man, but it was something different. Check me out, I’m glowing, you know what I mean?”
“After a while, there was no real reason to leave Madrid, but I just wanted to skate for Schmitt Stix. I got the opportunity and even got a job at the Vision art department, where I did my own graphics plus other skaters’, like the Baby Doll Blocks board for Jeff Grosso, or the Mad Scientist board for Kevin Staab, plus a lot of the Vision Blur ads.
Anyway, when time came to do my board on Schmitt Stix, I didn’t look much further than a sticker I had on that little drawer thing I had my TV on. When I was a kid I got it from a box of Trix breakfast cereals, it had this little guy behind bars and it said “dungeon”. I thought that that could look hot on a board. So I redrew it, it’s basically the same thing, and instead of “dungeon” I wrote my name.
People have made up all sort of interpretations of it but most of my graphics I do cause it looks cool, or fun, or funny and that’s it. Later on, I did a second version of this one, with the Joker coming out of the same bars. This one was a jab at Jerry Madrid cause the year after I left him, he redid my Joker board, but with “X Team rider” written instead of my name!”
“I was at my friend’s John Grigley, and he had a postcard from this movie Children Of the Damned, there’s all these little kids with no eyes in it, right? And there’s four kids in this postcard, and this guy was in the back kinda, so he was on the top of the postcard and his head was cut off.
We just thought he was funny so we Xeroxed him a couple of times, it got kind of more blown-out like that, and then we just started drawing a bunch of different heads on him. Grigley drew a big, square head, I drew this one, the thumbhead ! Actually, he was on another board. Before he got his own board he was on the nose of a board with racing stripes I put out.”