Robert Newman

Robert Newman - The Rocket - August 1985.jpeg

Two covers illustrated by Matt Groening for the August 1985 issue of The Rocket (above)
and the January 5, 1993 issue of The Village Voice (below).

Robert Newman: In the first half of the 1980s, I was working as an editor and sometimes-art director at The Rocket, a monthly music and arts magazine published in Seattle. We’d been running Matt Groening’s brilliant "Life in Hell" comic in The Rocket, along with excerpts from his very funny (and smart) music column that was published originally in the L.A. Reader. Matt and I had some mutual friends, and we bonded over our love of rap music, trading some killer tapes back and forth. He hosted a couple of us from The Rocket one memorable night in L.A., giving us a great lowlife tour that culminated at a nightclub where an Ice-T performance was broken up by a raid from the LAPD, complete with circling helicopters.

We asked Matt to create and design a complete cover of The Rocket, including images and headlines, for one of our doldrums-of-summer issues. We had a short discussion about the mindset of The Rocket’s readers, and Matt took it from there. It was probably the easiest cover I’ve ever worked on. When the artwork arrived (it was black & white line art), a couple of The Rocket’s art directors, Rick Jost and Kate Thompson (who later worked at The Village Voice and Entertainment Weekly), stayed up all night cutting Rubylith and Zipatone overlays to create the color. It was so old school that the cover even ended up with a moiré pattern when it printed.

This cover was such a good idea that in the early 90s when I was working with Florian Bachleda at The Village Voice, we called up Matt and had him do a similar version for our annual comix issue. Of course The Voice wouldn't let a cartoonist create the cover headlines, so Matt was limited to drawing the image and logo. But he did manage to slip in some explicit anatomy on Akbar (or is that Jeff?).


The Rocket, August 1985

Art Directors: Robert NewmanRick Jost, and Kate Thompson

Illustrator: Matt Groening

The Village Voice, January 5, 1993

Art Directors: Robert Newman and Florian Bachleda

Illustrator: Matt Groening