Thursday, May 31, 2012

Violent Violet Volkswagen

Violent Violet Volkswagen

Have you read The Shining by Stephen King? It's a great book if you haven't.

Recently I re-read it. The first time I read The Shining was years and years ago. I've seen the movie more times than I've read the book, but I love both equally. I've always found it strange that Stephen King didn't like Stanley Kubrick's version. I think Kubrick's version of The Shining is one of the top ten cinematic masterpieces of all time, in my opinion. But then again, I haven't had someone make a movie out of one of my books (yet) so I don't know how I'll feel about it when it does happen.

Anyway, one thing's for sure: the movie is not the book. I take them as separate entities.

One of the things you'll find in the book version of The Shining is the "Violent Violet Volkswagen."
The "Violent Violet Volkswagen" is a toy model kit that Wendy Torrance buys for her son Danny. Jack Torrance is supposed to put it together for Danny when Danny is able to read the entire first Dick and Jane book, as a reward. The "Violent Violet Volkswagen" does not appear in the movie version.

In the book, the model kit is described in the following paragraph:

"Jack took the box from his son. It was a model car, one of the Big Daddy Roth caricatures that Danny had expressed an admiration for in the past. This one was the Violent Violet Volkswagen and the picture on the box showed a huge purple VW with long '59 Cadillac Coupe de Ville taillights burning up a dirt track. The VW had a sunroof, and poking up through it, clawed hands on the wheel down below, was a gigantic warty monster with popping bloodshot eyes, a maniacal grin, and a gigantic English racing cap turned around backward."
-Stephen King, The Shining, p. 130

When I read The Shining all those years ago, I assumed the "Violent Violet Volkswagen" was a real thing. I knew who "Big Daddy" Ed Roth was, and had seen his art around. I always liked his art quite a bit. I seem to recall that model kits featuring such monstrosities as those of "Big Daddy" Ed Roth probably existed, so OF COURSE the one Stephen King mentioned in The Shining HAD to be real, didn't it? And was I going to check the internet to make sure? Nobody had the internet in those days. Yeah, of course the "Violent Violet Volkswagen" was real.

Apparently not.

When I re-read The Shining only a few months ago, I had to look up the "Violent Violet Volkswagen" on Google and see it for myself. Yes, model kits of such dragster-driving monsters by "Big Daddy" Ed Roth DO exist. But the "Violent Violet Volkswagen"? Not that I could find. But I really wanted to see it! I mean, how cool would that be? Very cool!!!

So, the only option I had was to illustrate the darn thing myself. The image above is inspired by the deliciously ridiculous creations of "Big Daddy" Ed Roth, as art directed by Stephen King. I made sure to give it that vintage "yellowed pulp-paper" look, to increase the nostalgia factor to maximum. Don't you love the poor registration of the cyan and magenta plates? So retro.

Now you too can enjoy the "Violent Violet Volkswagen."

Sorry, no model kits available (that I know of).

My thanks to the late "Big Daddy" Ed Roth for making such awesome art for so many years. And equal thanks to Stephen King for doing the same.


  1. It's freakish how your illustration looks exactly like Big Daddy Roth's art. I guess you truly are a chameleon artist. I would not be surprised if you could ape my work better than me----haahaahaaahaaaahaaaaa!

  2. Came across this for the same reason as I was reading the shining, fantastic work!