The Lost Episodes: about the cover art

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By Rip Rense

Frank Zappa's music available only on the black market? And offered real cheap, because it's so weird? Sounds like a plot invented by Zappa himself, but it's the world Gabor Csupo was raised in.

Csupo is the founder of Klasky-Csupo Animation, the people who originally animated The Simpsons, and now bring you Duckman. He is also the artist whose work adorns the cover of this CD. As a kid in communist Hungary, Csupo (pronounced CHOO-po) could buy Zappa's music in Budapest for next-to-nothing because, as his black market connection told him, "it's hard to whistle to."

Zappa's affection for The Simpsons led to a friendship with Csupo, which led FZ to ask the animator to draw the cover for The Lost Episodes.

"I just got very excited that I can do a Frank Zappa cover!" said Csupo. "I asked Frank if he had any specific idea for it, and he said 'absolutely not - do what you like.' So I gave him three different designs done on my Macintosh computer. The first one was the big face [Zappa's]- with the big moustache staring into the camera. The next one was kind of experimental half-computer graphic - kind of a green half-negative of Frank playing guitar. And the third one was a very cartoony, claustrophobic drawing where he is sort of lost in his basement where piled up all his tapes. Kind of tearing his hair out."

Csupo presented all three to Zappa one afternoon in 1993, when the composer was working quietly at his Synclavier, tweezing passages of Civilization Phaze III. FZ swiveled his chair sideways, smiled at the three pieces of art through rather professorial black-rimmed glasses, and instantly pointed at the very cartoony, claustrophobic, lost-in-the-basement version.

"That's the one," he said.

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