DESIGN

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ROTH, ED
ROTH, ED "BIG DADDY"
CALIFORNIA
(March 4, 1932 – April 4, 2001) was an artist and cartoonist who created the hot-rod icon Rat Fink and other extreme characters. As a custom car builder, Roth was a key figure in Southern California's "Kustom Kulture"/Hot-rod movement of the 1960s. He grew up in Bell, California, attending Bell High School, where his classes included auto shop and art.

Roth is best known for his grotesque caricatures — typified by Rat Fink — depicting imaginative, outsized monstrosities driving representations of the hot rods he and his contemporaries built. He is less well known for his innovative work in turning hot rodding from crude backyard engineering where performance was the bottom line into a refined artform where aesthetics were equally important, breaking new ground with Fibreglass bodywork.

Numerous artists were associated with Roth, including painter Robert Williams, Rat Fink Comix artist R.K. Sloane and Steve Fiorilla, who illustrated Roth's catalogs.

Known as Mr. Gasser to the hot-rodding community, Roth was active in the field of counterculture art and hot-rodding his entire adult life. At the time of his death in 2001, he was working on an innovative hot-rod project involving a compact car planned as a radical departure from the dominant "tuner" performance modification style.