Pedro Bell is an American artist and illustrator. He is best known for his elaborate cover designs and other artwork for numerous Funkadelic and George Clinton solo albums. Pedro's dual conceptuality as a writer heavily contributed to P- Funk's literary mythology — a sampling of his contributions include "Thumpasaurus," "Funkapus," "Queen Freakalene," "Bop Gun," and "Zone of Zero Funkativity."
According to his biography via George Clinton’s official website, Bell’s “stream-of-contagion text rewrote the whole game. He single-handedly defined the P-Funk collective as sci-fi superheroes fighting the ills of the heart, society, and the cosmos…As much as Clinton’s lyrics, Pedro Bell’s crazoid words created the mythos of the band and bonded the audience together.”
Bell, as an “untrained” artist, created album artwork and liner notes that created discourses that were important to black people in the U.S. during the 1970s. Whether in his use of puns, hypersexual characters, Bell created conceptual art that produced alternative ways of envisioning the ways in which black people in the U.S. saw themselves, as well as spoke about themselves.
Warner Brothers Music censored Bell’s initial artwork for Funkadelic’s 1981 album The Electric Spanking of War Babies. Deemed as inappropriate due to the cover featuring an overtly phallic shaped spaceship that transported a naked woman, the work was edited, despite the fact that Funkadelic “…was following up two consecutive million-selling records,” while signed to Warner Bros. Ultimately, Bell’s art for The Electric Spanking of War Babies was be featured with a lime-green sketch of shape covering the majority of the cover art, which says, “Oh Look! The Cover that ‘They’ were TOO-SCARED to print!” Recently,[when?] the CD version of the album was reproduced with its original album artwork.
"Black Age of Comics" forefather
In January 1994, artist and publisher Turtel Onli featured Bell as a guest artist at the Second Annual Black Age of Comics Convention presented by Onli Studios at the historic South Side Community Art Center in the Bronzeville district of Chicago, Illinois. This feature included Bell's artwork being on display in the gallery and Bell being the featured artist in a local cable televised interview covering the event. Onli also featured Bell at "BLACK AGE X" Convention in Chicago in 2007.
Onli coined the term, "The Black Age of Comics" to identify it as a genre of creative works that are derived from the Black or African experience in an indie/alternative manner. Since the mainstream comic book and comic strip industry tends to be traditionally resistant to giving Black artists or illustrators an outlet for material that is innovative, culturally rich, and provocatively humorous, album cover design the 1970s and 1980s was as a unique platform for this type of work to reach millions of fans. Onli credits Bell as being one of the pioneering architects of the Black Age of Comics movement due to the impact of Bell's album covers.
In addition to creating an album cover for the P-Funk influenced entertainer, Captain Sky, Onli worked with Bell on the George Clinton album cover You Shouldn't Nuff Bit Fish... in 1983, along with Bruse Bell and Sir Lance Everett. Bell humorously referred to Captain Sky as "Captain Try" on one of his Funkedelic album covers, rounding out the Chicago connection of both artists.
- Roctober interview
- Interview, Part I
- Interview, Part II
- Artist Behind Parliament Funkadelic Art Struggles to Get By, Chicago Sun-Times, November 9, 2009