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For the past five decades, mystery has surrounded the identity of Monté, the reclusive decal master who tossed a cherry bomb into the toilet of Eisenhower-era conformity, and then vanished. Now, author Bill Selby's Monté: King of Atom-Age Monster Decals uncovers the remarkable and ultimately tragic story of Monté, from his early roots pinstriping cars and motorcycles in Los Angeles to his eventual rise and fall as America's decal king -- including Monté's ill-fated team-up with Ed "Big Daddy" Roth to create the iconic Rat Fink.

--Colin Turner, associate publisher Last Gasp

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Millions of adults still recall with nostalgic relish those crazy, colorful "Originals by Monté." They were monster water-slide decals from the late '50s and early '60s - bought for a dime apiece in hobby shops, and then rebelliously applied on bicycles, models, toys, transistor radios, and lunch boxes. Informed decal aficionados worldwide agree that of all the water slide decals ever produced, Monté decals were the first to zap the collective psyche of defiant, late-50s juvenile (delinquent!) America.

Often imitated, but never surpassed, Monté's process is explained, along with hundreds of examples of his work: retro eye-candy guaranteed to raise a smile and a fond childhood memory. This authoritative book includes Monté's complete line of monster decals, a 9000-word biographical essay, rare sketches, and private family photographs. There's even a reproduction bonus pack of Monté water-slide decals included -- just add water and -- voilà!

"If my memory serves me correctly, Monté visited the office I shared with 'Big Daddy' early in 1964. Although Roth was very parsimonious about his affiliations with other artists, I remember that he had great respect and admiration for 'his decal man's' abilities. In retrospect, it appears 'Big Daddy' was quite fortunate to find some real talented local guys that helped him build his 'Finkocentric' empire." --Ed "Newt" Newton

"All these years I've wondered about Rat Fink's origin. I knew Roth couldn't have done it. I'd worked beside him at car shows and knew it had someone else's hand. Sorry, big daddy fans. I'm a huge fan of Roth too - Big Daddy played a giant part in my life - but now that I can put it all together, I see it was the hand of Monté screaming out in the Rat Fink. Bravo Monté!" --Stanley Mouse

"Originals by Monté" were an eclectic blend of Hot Rod bravado, Beat generation hipness, and Atomic Age paranoia, mixed with the craziest cartoon monster lunacy this side of Basil Wolverton. An American original in every sense of the word, Monté's life was one of incredible highs and devastating lows, but he lived it as a true bohemian while at the same time remaining a loving and devoted family man. A labor of love, Bill Selby has pieced together Monté's compelling story along with the wonderful designs that captured the imaginations of a generation, myself included. --Todd Schorr

"When I was decorating my first bicycle, I took the 'MINE!' Monté decal that I'd ordered from Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, and stuck it right on top of the bike's Tuffy logo. Monté helped me stake out my personal turf. All these years later, I still find myself appropriating Monté, sometimes much too directly. But, when you encounter mad genius you just have to get out of the way and let their freak flags fly." --Art Chantry

"In regards to Monté creating Rat Fink for Ed Roth, all I can do is quote Artie Shaw, the big band leader who said, 'Never be first, because if you're first you're lost in the onslaught of greedy sleezeballs who are running to get in front of the public eye.' " --Robert Williams

"This book confidently gives us the best and most probable theory for the birth of the classic 1963 proto Rat Fink character. Numerous scenarios have been tossed around discreetly by the cognoscenti of hot rod monster art for years, yours truly in that sect. Luckily, Bill Selby has taken up the cross of showcasing the genius of Señor Montéverde while no doubt stepping on the toes of self-proclaimed 'Roth experts' and writers guilty of under-researched R.F. origin rehashings.  --Johnny Ace & Kali / Johnny Ace Studios

"If you're a monster kid, a fanatic of 1950s kitsch, or a hot rod culture enthusiast, this book will knock your socks off -- GET IT!" --August Ragone, author of Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters: Defending the Earth with Ultraman and Godzilla

Don "Monté" Monteverde

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12 Responses to “Monté: King of the Atom-Age Monster Decals!”

  1. notavegan says:

    Although I grew up in the right time, I missed all this somehow — maybe just a bit too young.

    Can anyone identify the bike in the last photo for me, please?

    • knoxblox says:

      That’s a Harley-Davidson v-twin that’s been bobbed, notavegan.
      It’s hard to tell from the photograph, but from the shape of the rocker boxes, I’m guessing a panhead.

      I couldn’t tell you much more. Triumphs are more my passion.

      • notavegan says:

        Thanks, knoxblox. Thought it was likely a Harley but it didn’t look quite right. And A Triumph would have been far cooler!

        • knoxblox says:

          Here’s a link to a very sweet bobber with a ’51 panhead engine that’s DEFINITELY not stock-built. He’s made many modifications, but it looks awesome:

          http://www.caimag.com/wordpress/2010/08/11/custom-1951-harley-panhead/

        • knoxblox says:

          No problem. The main difference between a bobber and a chopper is the bobber has as many unimportant parts chopped or removed as possible for weight and handling, while a chopper’s frame is generally cut, or “chopped”, and reshaped for aesthetic reasons, usually to accommodate a better rake for extended forks.

          My Triumph was a ’69 Tiger with the spring-suspension rear end removed and replaced with a Harley-style rigid tail (most likely in 1970) which dropped the rear angle a bit and nullified the need to cut and re-weld the neck for a better rake. Generally, unless you’re a true professional welder, it’s best to refrain from cutting as much as possible.

          Mine was a rather tame-looking chopper, but it was unique, and I loved it while I had it. Since it was painted with DuPont’s ChromaLusion Jade (behind colors: gold, black, and burple), that Witch Doctor decal would have looked sweet.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well that’s Norton 489 Roadster.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The bike is a Harley 45 c.i. flathead.

  3. ransom notes says:

    Thanks for posting this amazing compendium and fitting tribute to someone who clearly changed the landscape. The book can be bought at Last Gasp Books for a mere $14.95.

    This is the author, Bill Selby’s book website.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Yeah it’s a Harley flathead 45. Suicide clutch, tank-shift and in 1962, my 1937 model was living proof you CAN put out a gasoline fire with a water hose. Mazooma

  5. Gareth Branwyn says:

    Great to see Colin Turner/Last Gasp here on Boing Boing. Go, Colin!

  6. gulture says:

    Long before there was spraypaint & stickers, I used these decals as grafitti. I put them everywhere… I had forgotten their beauty. Thanks.

  7. ha-milton says:

    Thats an INDIAN motorcycle guys!! Monte is an amazing artist, and my favorite of the genre. There is an issue of Rolls & Pleats magazine that showcases Montes work, and thats how I found about his awesome art. I cant wait to get the book. This is a great site by the way- awesome layout!

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