Green Day's Dookie turned 20 this month. With more than 20 million copies sold, it's the best-selling punk-rock album of all time. It's also probably the best-selling record illustrated entirely with colored pencil, and definitely the best-selling album with a cover featuring poop-throwing dogs, an American Gladiator or a Chia Pet.
The cover features a scene of shit-covered chaos on Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue drawn by East Bay punk Richie Bucher. Bucher—who plays bass in a band called Courtney and the Crushers fronted by his girlfriend, Portland native Courtney Castleman—was connected to Green Day through its pre-Tré drummer and his work for the zine Absolutely Zippo.
"Their first drummer was John Kiffmeyer," Bucher says. "My band Soup used to play with his old band a bunch. So when Green Day first came around, we said, 'Oh, John's new band! They're supposed to be really good,' and they were. Right away you could tell."
The rest was left to Bucher.
"All I had to work with was that it was Green Day and the album was called Dookie," he says. "I used to listen to the Kerplunk! album all the time, and the first two songs especially just sounded to me like a fighter plane swooping down. That was the way in for me, the anchor for building the rest of the drawing. They didn't give me a lot of guidance, which was nice, and I just sketched out the basic design and brought it to them. Once they approved the sketch, I went back and fleshed it out with the crazy stuff in my head."
Here, for the first time, Bucher talks about the illustration.
"That was from the Ramones' record
, drawn by John Holmstrom. Holmstrom was a cartoonist and magazine publisher, and he did a lot of artwork for the Ramones. I just wanted to give him a shout-out in there. 'Eat at Chef Wong's' was on a T-shirt in the cartoon in the art from
Oil refineries in the Northeast Bay. "That's where the Green Day guys are from. It's just part of the landscape—and part of what I wanted to represent. Something we drove past every day…. It never would've occurred to me to have the Golden Gate Bridge or San Francisco in the background. I grew up in Berkeley going to San Francisco a lot, but it just wasn't a part of what this record was about."
Free Huey Newton. "More Berkeley shit. There was all kinds of political stuff around town. That kind of graffiti was pretty common. It was part of growing up on Telegraph Avenue. When you were in ninth grade, you had the Revolutionary Communist Party trying to recruit you."
Caffe Mediterraneum on Telegraph Avenue. "It was there since the early '50s and was kind of a hippie place. We used to hang out there in high school, smoke cigarettes and stuff.
Supposedly, it's the place where Allen Ginsberg wrote
, but I don't know to what extent that's true. But apparently he used to hang out there, too. It was that type of place."
From the cover of
. "It's a really spooky picture, a vaguely witchy Ozzy. That little snippet is a line from a song on that record."
"Those dudes were a depiction of people who'd come to hang on Telegraph from the other suburbs. They pretty much all looked the same, with baseball caps and goatees."
University of California Marching Band. "They were always marching around playing. I thought they were pretty great."
Local photographer Murray Bowles. "He was a really fantastic photographer who'd take pictures of all the bands playing in the '80s up until now. He had his own style of taking pictures: right in the pit, hold his camera up and just shoot. Really fucking awesome stuff."
"The girls loosely represent girls in a band called Raooul."
"Winchell's Donuts on San Pablo, near Marin [Avenue], is where we used to go after shows. I just wanted to throw in a fat cop and somebody ripping him off, which was sort of a reference to this band the Rip Offs that used to play around that time. They were a garage band and they used to wear masks. I thought I'd throw
Twisted Dog Sisters was a group of teenage girls in Berkeley. "Not really a gang, but a group of girls who'd hang out on Telegraph."
Angus Young, from the cover of
. "That was stuff I was listening to at the time, probably while I was drawing this. That album cover was one of my favorites, so it's a shout to that."
Alex Chilton of Big Star.
Patti Smith from the cover of
The logo for the band Filth, drawn by Jesse Michaels. "They were punks from the East Bay. He's got a brick, ready to throw."
"My emblem, which I used to draw every day on my hand in high school because I was just fucking angry. A year or two later, it became part of the logo for my band Soup."
You might recall having seen a larger version of the Dookie art, a poster-sized version that expounded upon the original scene. The original album cover wasn't a cropped version of this, as it turns out. Rather, it was added by Bucher later at the request of Green Day's record label.
"They had me do the cover first and then asked me to add on for a poster. I probably would've done it a little more cohesively if I had done it the opposite way around," he says.
Here's what the posted included.
- A bottle of Mad Dog bum wine. âOccasionally, yes, we would drink Mad Dog. But in the poster it was because of the dogs. I thought it was kinda clever.â
- The Hello Kitty Kitty cat. âI was in a band for a little while called Here Kitty Kittyâit was around that time, and I use to draw flyers and stuff for that band. That cat was sort of like an icon that I used for that band. The catâs actually in a few different places on the cover. It was more throwing that in because itâs my own personal thing.â
- Lulu the snake and Keeton the cat. âThat was my pet snake LuLu. She was pretty awesome and the cat was my roommateâs cat, his name was Keeton.â
- A Mercedes and a woman yelling at a man with a car phone cord around his neck. âA lot of the stuffâmaybe halfâis really specific and others is just cartoons I dreamed up. Thereâs no real story behind that except for hating yuppies and me making idiots out of them.â
- Santa and the streaking dunce. âI drew this around Christmas timeâthe record cover itself I finished in October of â93 and then they wanted me to add on for the poster so I was doing that during the Christmas months that year.
- Rick Star. âThe guy singing âMoon River?â His name was Rick Starr, he was a street performer.â
- The pigâs head from The Lord of the Flies.
- The guy in a tutu. âBerkeley was just kinda filled with freaksâawesome freaks. That wouldnât be terribly unusual to see: some old balding white haired dude walking around in a tutu.â