Top Fives: Poisoned Pen’s Top 5 Board Graphics

A lot of you might be familiar with the amazing work of Poisoned Pen – an illustrator and graphic designer who has had an interview with The Berrics, high praise from skateboarding legends, and enjoys a huge Instagram following. What you might not know, is he is a Cov OG skateboarder called Martin Orton, who has collaborated with The Terrible Company as a filmer in the past, and more recently did a board graphic for Ride – Coventry’s skater owned shop. As a respected illustrator in the skateboarding industry, I asked Martin to write about his Top 5 Board graphics, and he was happy to oblige! – Ade

5. Tom Penny’s first pro model

Loved the simplicity, and it didn’t even have a top graphic. There was no branding on it at all! Not one for bigging up drug culture, but could there be a more fitting debut model for Tom Penny? These never show up on eBay, and in fact, it was difficult trying to even source a picture of it. This is one I had and wished I’d have kept in pristine condition for the wall. Hindsight, eh?

4. Fucked Up Blind Kids

These all count as one. I’m not 100% sure, but I think these may have been the first ever series Blind did of these boards. I’m not aware of any that preceded this run, but I could be way off. McKee killed it with this run – A clever parody, a clever marketing ploy and an instant icon. They are highly collectible. I have the full set (not OG) and I’ll never part with them.

3. Chocolate Gabriel Rodriguez

This was one of the first Gabriel Rodriguez pro models on Chocolate – It may even be the first? I didn’t have this one back in the day, but I did have the t-shirt. I don’t know who did the early run of graphics for Chocolate back then, but I’m guessing this was before they had Hecox and McFetridge on their books. This is my favourite Chocolate graphic of all time. I was stoked to see it get background props in Mid90s! 

2. Danny Sargent Monkey Bomber 

The reissues of this board have been wide of the mark. The clarity on the outlines are poor and the decision to remove the vans branding from the shoe makes no sense. The OG, however really popped. There were some issues with the colours being a bit too dark on some of the early runs, but I had to have one as soon as I saw it. Graphically, this is, in my opinion, Andy Howell’s finest work. Glad to see it reissued but they shouldn’t have messed with it.

Before I get to number one, there are some honourable mentions that would’ve made the cut if this were a top ten… In no order:

  • Frankie Hill’s first model. Pretty sure this was a Sean Cliver graphic. It’s not particularly brilliant, but the association to good times I had on this board makes it for me. I must’ve bought this one half a dozen times.
  • Heath’s retirement board. This one speaks for itself.
  • Another Gabriel Rodriguez. Marc McKee either being culturally insensitive or redressing a cultural balance. Nowhere near as controversial as the Jovontae Turner Napping Negro board. A part of me would love to see a comic run centred around the exploits of Superhombre, the other part thinks this is nothing more than a Family Guy cutaway gag.

1. 101 Adam McNatt

Cov OG, Steve Taylor, turned up at Safeway with this under his feet, and I was just in awe of it. I wanted one so bad, but it sold out everywhere. This is Sean Cliver at his satirical best. This never pops up on eBay so the best I can hope for is a reissue at some point. Total grail. Best 101 board. Best Adam McNatt board. Best Cliver graphic.

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