This very trippy poster is a classic example of Lee Conklin’s artistry. In Conklin’s world, no central figure can include too many other figures, objects, or visual puns. Conklin’s posters invite your imagination to see what is there in different layers and sometimes to see what’s not been put there intentionally, due to the, “the Lee Conklin effect.” This visual, of Mercury, the winged messenger, looks like it is melting, which certainly does tend to happen occasionally on hallucinogens. This Mercury is replete with his winged hat and scepter which includes two worms, snakes or striped tails with face [your choice] wrapped around the staff in the fashion of the medical symbol, the caduceus.
Recalling renaissance paintings of faces fashioned from vegetables and animals, and foreshadowing modern montages composed of odd photographed bits and pieces that form a face, this surreal piece is truly a masterful psychedelic poster. The Grateful Dead were in the middle of the long year between Anthem of the Sun and Aoxomoxoa and were at the height of their experimental powers. Quicksilver Messenger Service’s first album had come out in May,1968. Linn County, formed in 1966 in the Iowa county of the same name, moved out to San Francisco in 1968, and recorded their only real album in May of that year which did not chart.