While the Marvel superhero Doctor Strange has been a ‘cult’ figure – especially amongst occultists – for many decades now, in 2016 he truly went mainstream with his own feature movie, and subsequent hook-up with the Avengers team in a few of the biggest-grossing movies of all time.
Marvel’s master magician has in fact been around for over 50 years now, and during that time he’s influenced plenty of people (including myself) – even though most of the general public might not have recognised him as easily as the likes of Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk. But, rather fittingly, many people have probably looked at an image of the Sorcerer Supreme on multiple occasions without actually seeing him. In particular, Pink Floyd fans.
Hidden on the cover of Pink Floyd’s second album, A Saucerful of Secrets (1968), is an image of Dr Strange taken from Marvel’s Strange Tales #158, published the year before the album was released, in 1967. Created by the late Storm Thorgerson, legendary designer of many of Pink Floyd’s album images, the cover includes a barely visible Doctor Strange, as well as the character Living Tribunal, who are facing off over the future of the Earth (see below – original cover image on the left, enhanced version on the right).
Not content with this sly album cover inclusion, a year later the Floyd made another reference to Dr Stephen Strange in their song ‘Cymbaline’, on the soundtrack to the movie More, with the lyrics “and Doctor Strange is always changing size”. Here they are playing it live in 1971 (listen closely and you’ll also hear a tip of the hat to another famous Doctor near the end):
There was almost yet another reference to the Marvel Universe in Pink Floyd’s work just a few years later. Thorgerson confirmed a few years before his passing that a photo version of the Silver Surfer was one of the images he once considered for the cover of Dark Side of the Moon (happily, he settled on the now famous light prism image, one of the most famous album covers in modern music).
And, in 2016, the circle was completed somewhat when – after these multiple sly references by Pink Floyd to Doctor Strange over the year – the movie about the magical Marvel superhero tipped the hat back to the Floyd with the inclusion of their song ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ in an early scene in the film: