the hero hidden in a band cover

There is more between Pink Floyd and its listeners than our vain philosophy dreams of. The British group became legend for their music and for their numerous myths and conspiracy theories, including the famous “sync” of “The Dark Side of the Moon” with the movie “The Wizard of Oz”.

But there is a pop intersection, much more doable, that has passed unscathed by fans and even by this scribe in the column about hidden messages: one of the covers of the band was starring a character from the now billionaire Marvel, none other than Doctor Strange.

Take a close look and zoom in further on the artwork for “A Saucerful of Secrets” (1968), Pink Floyd’s second work and the only one to feature simultaneously guitarists Syd Barrett and David Gilmour.

Amidst the astrologically inspired psychedelic-expressionist collage, right on the right side, is the silhouette of the sorcerer hero, almost like a watermark, interacting with planetary spheres — one of them, added later, contains the image of the members.

Image: Playback / Reddit

What’s more: at the top left, we still see the opaque figure of the Living Tribunal, a cosmic character that has existed in history since the beginning of time to maintain balance and protect the multiverse. Amazing, they were always there.

The imagistic universe was taken from issue 158 of the HQ “Strange Tales”, published in July 1967 in the USA. From the plot “The Sands of Death”, which depicts the meeting of Doctor Strange and the Living Tribunal.

Image: Reproduction

In the scene, floating in interdimensional space, the entity threatens to destroy Earth providing an apocalyptic vision. Strange sees an “S” of planets collapsing and heading for a galactic pinnacle of destruction.

The moment was illustrated by Marie Severin and written by Roy Thomas (Doctor Strange co-creator Steve Ditko had left Marvel shortly before). And it fit the Pink Floyd aesthetic like a glove.

In addition to the geek connection, the cover of “A Saucerful of Secrets” has other reasons to be historic. It is the debut of legendary graphic artist Storm Thorgerson, in partnership with Aubrey Powell, in the world of disc arts. A time when the Hipgnosis studio, which would sign “The Dark Side of the Moon” and “Houses of the Holy”, by Led Zeppelin, among many others, was just an embryo.

According to Thorgerson, who presented the concept from the group’s coordinates, Pink Floyd wanted to move away from the image of their first album, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, which featured psychedelic portraits and multicolored outfits. The same look as several other groups. And so they wanted to bring in someone outside the EMI label to develop the concept for the cover.

It is important to note that, in that context and time, the British university underground of the 1960s, Doctor Strange was experiencing a boom in popularity among artists. Its peculiar features drew attention.

cover overlay
Image: Reproduction

Created in 1963 by artist Steve Ditko and screenwriter Stan Lee, the character possessed mystical powers, interpreted by many as the expansion of consciousness. It contrasted with classic heroes and their habits of resolving conflicts on the basis of beatings. The imaginaries matched perfectly.

“The Cape [de “A Saucerful of Secrets”] it’s an attempt to represent things the band were interested in, collectively and individually, presented in a way that was compatible with the music. Spiral and blurred edges dialoguing with astrology and Dr. Strange merging a million miles away from certain pharmaceutical experiments. It was the record where they started experimenting with longer songs.”
Storm Thorgerson (1944-2013), in an interview in 1998

In time: neither Marie Severin nor Roy Thomas were credited on the art created by Hipgnosis and probably didn’t receive a penny for it

Considered a transition album between Pink Floyd’s lysergic and melodic-progressive phase, “A Saucerful Of Secrets” is one of the group’s lesser-known albums and one of the least sold. And Marvel, so just a comic book publisher trying to balance the bills to stay relevant, doesn’t seem to have bothered with artistic appropriation.

But the relationship between the group and Doctor Strange is even more elastic.

A year later, in 1969, the character was mentioned again by Pink Floyd, now by name, in the track “Cymbaline”, composed by Roger Waters for the soundtrack of the movie “More”.

“The leaves are heavy around your feet / You hear the train thunder / Suddenly you realize they’re getting closer / And Doctor Strange is always changing size,” sings David quietly. Gilmour.

Coincidence or not — I daresay not — the track was originally christened with another title: “Nightmare”. Nightmare is the name of one of Doctor Strange’s first enemies.

Another well-known story, confirmed by the head of the hypognosis Aubrey Powell, is that Silver Surfer, another Marvel character, was even considered by designers to be on the cover of “The Dark Side Of The Moon” and almost didn’t stop there.

Do you like easter eggs? “Interstellar Overdrive”, Pink Floyd’s experimental anthem from 1967, appears in one of the most important scenes of the feature “Doctor Strange”, released in 2016.

Scene from Soutor Estranho - Reproduction - Reproduction
Image: Reproduction

In another, the protagonist Benedict Cumberbatch appears wearing a T-shirt from the album “The Madcap Laughs”, the solo debut of Syd Barrett, founder of Pink Floyd.

The Stranger’s interpreter expanded the limits of this synchronicity when he joined David Gilmour in a 2016 concert, the same year of the film, to sing “Comfortably Numb”, as you can check out below.

The original title of “Comfortably Numb”? “The Doctor”. The doctor who in the lyrics of the album “The Wall” offers medicine to the protagonist Pink before he performs at a concert.

The results are as psychotropic as the divine forces of Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme, aka our friend Strange.

Do you know any other examples of the Pink Floyd-Marvel connection? So write in the comments or message me on Instagram (@hrleo) or Twitter (@hrleo_). Want to read more texts? Click here.

And until the next typed!


The article is in Portuguese

Tags: hero hidden band cover

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