Metaphors in Motion

Rat Rods part 2 - Rat Fink

Rat Fink is an ever present icon in the Hot Rod world and the his creator's influence on car culture through his prolific works has continued to live on.

Growing up in the late 50's and 60's I honed my drawing skills inspired by Rat Fink. With my dislike of any thing of social norm Rat Fink was the anti-Mickey and I loved him and the other characters and cars created by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth. My first exposure was through magazines like CarToons.

He inspired me to draw as I copied and traced reassembled the characters and cars into new stories and scenes. Eventually I was drawing in his style on my own recreating Rat Fink when ever I could.

Models were also big entertainment and "Big Daddy"'s models were in every Hobby Shop. I bought them whenever possible.

Glueing and painting occasionally modifying fired the creative juices to combine other kits into outrageous vehicles. Wish I had all those model kits today.

I did have the good fortune to meet him at a hot rod and custom car show in Feb 2000 or 2001 right before his death. Of course I had to tell him how he inspired me to draw as a kid and I took home a signed Rat Fink print that I treasure to this day.

Visit Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's official website for goodies.

Here is a great short film on the Master.

Classic Rat Fink





Ratfink32_large One of my favorite images. The shifter is so typical of Rat Rods today the cues are all there.

48-moreaboutwomen_large Clearly he had his finger on the pulse of every mans dilemma.







Other interesting facts.

Rat Fink is one of the several hot-rod characters created by one of the originators of Kustom Kulture, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth.

Roth's hatred for Mickey Mouse led him to draw the original Rat Fink. After he placed Rat Fink on an airbrushed monster shirt, the character soon came to symbolize the entire hot-rod/Kustom Kulture scene of the 1950s and 1960s. Although Detroit native Stanley Mouse (Miller) is credited with creating the so-called

"Monster Hot Rod" art form, Roth is accepted as the individual who popularized it. The Rat Fink is a green, depraved-looking mouse with bulging, bloodshot eyes, an oversized mouth with yellowed, narrow teeth, and a red T-shirt with yellow "R.F." on it.

Other artists associated with Roth also drew the character, including Rat Fink Comix artist R.K. Sloane and Steve Fiorilla, who illustrated Roth's catalogs. Rat Fink and Roth are featured in Ron Mann's documentary film Tales of the Rat Fink (2006). [1] Jeannette Catsoulis reviewed in The New York Times:

Ogling fins and drooling over fenders, the movie traces the colorful history of the hot rod from speed machine to babe magnet and, finally, museum piece and collector’s item.

Along the way we learn of Mr. Roth’s lucrative idea to paint hideous monsters — including the Rat Fink of the title — on children’s T-shirts, a sartorial trend that, in the 1960’s, had the added benefit of getting their wearers banned from school, thus giving them more time to play with Mr. Roth’s model car kits.

Ed "Big Daddy" Roth (March 4, 1932 – April 4, 2001) was an artist and cartoonist who created the hot-rod icon Rat Fink and other extreme characters.

As a custom car builder, Roth was a key figure in Southern California's "Kustom Kulture"/Hot-rod movement of the 1960s. He grew up in Bell, California, attending Bell High School, where his classes included auto shop and art.

Roth is best known for his grotesque caricatures — typified by Rat Fink — depicting imaginative, outsized monstrosities driving representations of the hot rods he and his contemporaries built.

Although Detroit native Stanley Mouse (Miller) is credited with creating the so-called "Monster Hot Rod" art form, Roth is accepted as the individual who popularized it.

Roth is less well known for his innovative work in turning hot rodding from crude backyard engineering where performance was the bottom line into a refined artform where aesthetics were equally important, breaking new ground with Fibreglass bodywork.

In the 1960s, plastic models of many of Roth's cars, as well as models of Rat Fink and other whimsical creatures created by Roth, were marketed by the Revell model company.

Numerous artists were associated with Roth, including painter Robert Williams, Rat Fink Comix artist R.K. Sloane and Steve Fiorilla, who illustrated Roth's catalogs. Roth was active in the field of counterculture art and hot-rodding his entire adult life.

At the time of his death in 2001, he was working on an innovative hot-rod project involving a compact car planned as a radical departure from the dominant "tuner" performance modification style.

In his later years, Roth's telephone number was listed in the directory, and he encouraged fans to contact him: he was always generous with his time and enthusiasm.

These images of Rat Rods are testament to Ed Roths influence on the car culture.



306431_large Even volkswagen fans are rat rodding which will be another post.

It's a growing phenomena and the vw's look awesome.