Queen album cover inspired by cartoon?

My parents had Queen's "News of the World" on 8-track when I was about 6 or 7. It still worked about 8 years later when I was beginning to broaden my musical horizons and actively seeking 8-track tape players at garage sales. It's hard to forget the image on the cover, even if it was only two or three inches square on the front of the 8-track tape.

Queen "News Of The World"

Fast forward to last year. A 1950s cartoon hidden in a rack of $1 dvds. The Curious Adventures of Mr. Wonderbird. (Alternate titles: "Le Roi et L'Oiseau" or "The King and the Mockingbird" or "The Shepherdess and The Chimneysweep.") The title is underwhelming. Anthropomorphic animals aren't usually my bag. But the cover shows a fantastical city in the background and a giant robot aiming a ray from its eye. (Turns out to be just a normal light projected from its eye, but you had me at giant robot.) For a buck, I'll risk it.

Le Roi et L'Oiseau (aka The King and the Mockingbird)

The voice of the bird is Peter Ustinov (a legendary actor whose career I'll minimize by saying that my fellow geeks may remember him as the old man at the end of Logan's Run), and the animation is smooth, the style is unique, the story somewhat darker than your average cartoon.

Halfway through, the evil king activates a giant robot to stomp through the city and find the shepherdess he loves. The robot's head is different and the fingertips are pointed, but I couldn't help wondering if the artist of that Queen album cover was thinking back to this cartoon s/he might have seen 25 years earlier. Maybe it's just archetypal that a giant robot is going to hold humans in its palm in a way that's tender yet threatening.

Post-Script update: An anonymous commenter pointed out that Queen's News of the World album art was based on the October 1953 issue of Astounding Science Fiction.

astounding sci fi (queen album cover)


  • At 12:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    It's more likely that the cartoon was inspired by the artist's original take on this idea on the cover of Astounding Science Fiction in October 1953.

  • At 2:00 PM , Blogger Deidzoeb said...

    Thanks, anonymous. For a minute, I wondered if the artist for this 1953 Astounding Sci Fi cover had seen the cartoon Le Roi et L'Oiseau (first shown in 1952), but that's a bit of a stretch.

  • At 11:50 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Must have just been the Zeitgeist.

  • At 2:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The Curious Adventures of Mr. Wonderbird!!!!! Thank you, thank you. I have been trying to find out the name of the creepy cartoon I saw as a child that gave me a lifelong hatred of robots. It really stayed with me. I'm watching it now on the internet and it still is creepy to me. Neat! Thanks again.

  • At 3:21 PM , Blogger Deidzoeb said...

    There may still be cheap copies of Curious Adventures of Mr. Wonderbird available on DVD. I found one for $1 or maybe $2 at Walmart a few years back.


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