Kongfrontation (Universal Studios)
Airbrushed Acrylic on Illustration Board
This is another incredibly iconic piece from my childhood. Universal Studios' flagship attraction was their Studio Backlot Tour, and in 1986 they added one of the most impressive (and groundbreaking) experiences on this tour. The tram would pull into a soundstage, where you were instantly transported to New York City in the evening, with chaos all around. A 30 foot (head and shoulders only) animatronic King Kong was attacking the Brooklyn Bridge, with the tram still on it, as NYPD and news choppers flying overheard, the latter of which came crashing down and exploding right next to the tram.
It was an incredible sight loaded with fun detail, even down to giving King Kong banana scented breath that you could smell from the tram as you got close to him!
About the Art...
This piece was for the billboards placed all around Los Angeles to advertise the new attraction. We saw them for many, many months, and some were huge!
Dad's primary cameo look is found in this piece. Whenever he would work himself into a painting, whenever he could he would give himself a red Nebraska Cornhuskers hat, usually with a white "N" on it when the angle was right. On this particular painting of himself, he used his own signature as the "team logo" on his shirt, and gave himself the number 33 because he was 33 when he painted this.
Looking through his flat files, I found some interesting reference shots. Before Photoshop he had to actually photocopy his sketches, make cut outs, and test it out to see how a gorilla face lined up and was spaced, so he would do this and hold it up to his own face!