Showcasing Costantinos Pissourios’ art

by Jun 14, 2023Art, Articles

Showcasing Costantinos Pissourios' Art


When: June, 2023
Writer: Adam Reeves, comic creator/publisher
Graphics/Photo: Courtesy of Adam Reeves & Costantinos Pissourios
Copyright:  2023 – Adam Reeves

Newsletter for Trombone Man: Ska’s Fallen Genius – June 2023

There really aren’t too many illustrators specialising solely in Jamaican music culture… So finding someone to illustrate Trombone Man who has the same amount of love for reggae, ska, rocksteady, dub, dancehall and sound system culture as I do was like striking gold. Having responded to my shout-out in the Blood & Fire Facebook group (dedicated to a now defunct legendary reggae re-issue label) the moment I decided to collaborate with Costantinos Pissourios (AKA Versioncos) as my illustrator, a fire got lit underneath this project. I want to share a little of what he’s been up to lately outside of his work on Trombone Man…

Costantinos fell in love with the world of reggae sound systems when he was an art student in London in the 1990s, attending dances by the likes of Jah Shaka and Aba-Shanti. On his return to Cyprus, he built the first reggae sound system in Cyprus and started to host his own dances. He has recently built a new system which he calls Riddim In Green (because he runs it up in the lush green pine forest where he lives). In May he travelled from his remote mountain home to Bristol, UK in order to co-host an exhibition of artists who also share the his passion for reggae soundsystem culture, featuring artists from Spain, Italy, Portugal and the UK.

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I was unable to attend as it was on the other side of the country. But I thought I’d celebrate the success of Costantinos’ event by showcasing some of his art, which he has kindly allowed me to share with you. Firsly here’s his tribute to reggae producer Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee, who loved to dress up in outlandish costumes, especially as a sailor, so this is very appropriate. He was known for innovating a drum pattern in the ’70s called ‘the flying cymbal’ style (made famous on Johnny Clarke’s None Shall Escape The Judgement), hence the flying cymbals!
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Here’s the legendary dub master, Scientist at the controls mixing some bad, bad dub to wreak
destruction and havoc upon the Earth… Its an homage to the series of dub LPs that came out in the 1980s on the UK reggae label Greensleeves, which featured the wild innovations of cartoonist Tony McDermot. These LPs had titles like Scientist Rids The World Of The Curse Of The Evil Vampires, Scientist Encounters Pac-Man, Scientist Meets The Space Invaders, Scientist Wins The World Cup (all four of those are referenced here). I had a few of them back then – they served as my introduction to dub reggae.
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Here’s producer and dubmaster King Jammy at the controls… Jammy turned reggae music digital in the mid-’80s, literally overnight, with his Sleng Teng riddim, using a basic Casio keyboard and things were never quite the same after that, for better or for worse…
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This is the great DJ U-Roy. In the world of Jamaican sound systems, the DJ (or ‘toaster’) is the rapper on the mic, the guy that puts the records on is the ‘selector’… But you knew that already, right? Of course you did! The alarm clock is a reference to U-Roy’s legendary cry, “Wake the Town and Tell the People”. I’m really digging that red pinstripe suit…
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Here’s the king of UK sound systems, Jah Shaka (aka the Zulu Warrior) who’s recent passing has sent shockwaves through the reggae world. Shaka ruled the UK scene for about 40 years and his dances had an intense spritual vibe which made you feel like you were paticipating in some kind of sacred ritual communion which was simultaneously ancient and futuristic. His wall of speakers was a thing of wonder and emulated by many.
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Finally, here’s my logo for Hearsay Media, which was inspired by RCA records’ His Masters Voice logo featuring Nipper the dog, possibly one of the most iconic logos of all time. Last year we were posing together for a photo next to Costantinos’ sound system in his studio when his dog Pixel came and joined us. My partner Peta spotted the similarity with HMV and we decided to create a logo from it. I don’t know if it will become as iconic as the original but it makes me smile every time I see it.
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