Punk Portraits
Drawing by Mark Vallen


"Come Back To Haunt You" - Mark Vallen. Pencil on paper. 1980.

Artist's Statment: "In 1980 I did the cover art for what turned out to be the very last issue of Slash magazine, the premiere publication of the Los Angeles punk movement. My drawing, titled Come Back To Haunt You, was a visual proclamation that the spirits of Native American warriors had come back to possess the youthful punk rebels of the U.S. The mohawked and leather clad fellow in my drawing represented those spirits. My drawing was actually inspired by the words of Chief Seattle, leader of the Dwamish tribe of the Pacific Northwest. After surrendering to the Whites in the treaty of 1855, Seattle said the following:

'When the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Man, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children's children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.'

I had read those words years before the punk explosion, and took them to heart, thinking them quite beautiful. My drawing's title alluded to Seattle's vision of the ghosts of his people haunting America's urban streets. I know it is terribly romantic and overblown to say so, but, I saw punk as a strange kind of manifestation of Seattle's solemn utterance. I wanted people to think about those who first sported the Mohawk haircut - my drawing was meant as a political provocation.

Slash, founded in 1977, was one of the very first U.S. publications to promulgate the punk explosion. The magazine introduced an unsuspecting public to the likes of the Sex Pistols, Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees and other hitherto unknown bands. LA's own backyard was amply covered with reports on X, Germs, Fear, Black Flag, and many others.

The last issue of Slash featured articles on Crass and Adam and the Ants. My Slash cover drawing was not only a political statement, it also served as a rebel fashion exclusive! I can't take full credit for this, but soon after my artwork hit the streets, legions of youth in Los Angeles began to sport Mohawk haircuts."

Signed giclée prints of Come Back To Haunt You are available for purchase.

Original cover of Slash magazine with Vallen's cover art