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"Flesh Eater" - Drawing by Mark Vallen, 1980.

Flesh Eater
Vallen 1980
Pencil on paper 10" x 13"

In 1980 I created the portrait of Chris D. (aka Chris Desjardins) you see here, and this particular artwork remains one of my favorite drawings from that period, evoking not just the intensity of my subject, but the early punk rock movement we were a part of. Chris D. was a featured writer at Slash magazine, where I met him in 1979 when joining the magazine for a brief period as a designer and illustrator. In the fall of 1977 Chris D. founded The Flesh Eaters, one of the finest punk bands to have emerged from the city of Los Angeles.

Driven by Chris's darker vision and eerie poetry, the band's foreboding sound was informed by rockabilly, the blues, and esoteric outsider musicians from Screamin' Jay Hawkins to Roky Erickson and the Aliens. I saw The Flesh Eaters at many of their early performances, and followed them over the years until they disbanded in 1983. The band's music was truly harrowing, full of nightmare, menace, and a baleful and ominous mysticism.

Over the years the line-up of The Flesh Eaters changed, including such stellar musicians as John Doe and DJ Bonebrake of X, Dave Alvin and Bill Bateman of the Blasters, Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, and Stan Ridgway of Wall of Voodoo, but to tell you the truth, the only person I ever really remembered was Chris D. His lyrics were enough to make your skin crawl, and he possessed a scream and vocal style that came from another dimension - compelling the faint of heart to flee in panic for the door at concert performances. The Flesh Eaters were not just another run of the mill band propped up by a two-bit nihilism, Chris D.'s cerebral approach took its cues from gothic literature, the unseemly side of American pop culture, and horror movies (the band took its name from a low budget Hollywood science fiction film made in 1964.)

In time The Flesh Eaters were resurrected, recording and performing sporadically, but Mr. D. was never a one dimensional man. In 1999 his vast and esoteric knowledge of art house movies landed him a job as a programmer at The American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood (my pick for the greatest movie house in the country.) Chris has published an authoritative book on Japanese genre films, Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film, and at present he's working on, Gun and Sword - An Encyclopedia of Japanese Gangster Films 1955-1980.

www.art-for-a-change.com is owned and operated by Mark Vallen All text by Mark Vallen.