10 years ago, indie-folkster Sufjan Stevens released ‘Illinois’: his critically-acclaimed, 22-track love letter to the Midwestern US state. Lyrically covering a broad range of subjects from Abraham Lincoln (‘Decatur, Or Round Of Applause For Your Stepmother!’) to UFO sightings, and containing elongated song titles in the vein of ‘To The Workers Of The Rock River Valley Region, I Have An Idea Concerning Your Predicament, And It Involves An Inner Tube, Bath Mats, and 21 Able-Bodied Men’, it’s an eccentric work of genius that still surprises a full decade after Stevens unveiled his vision to the world.
As tradition now seems to dictate, Stevens is celebrating the 10-year anniversary by releasing a re-issue of the album on vinyl early next year. Strictly limited to 10,000 copies, there’s also an added incentive for all you avid record collectors out there: the reissue will feature a slightly-altered artwork from the original, with obscure Marvel Comics character The Blue Marvel replacing Superman, on the cover. Check out the new design below.
But why is this change particularly significant, you may ask? Well: ‘Illinois’’ original artwork, designed by artist Divya Srinivasan, depicted The Man Of Steel flying above the Chicago skyline, which was done without clearance from the superhero character’s copyright owner, DC Comics. And while DC allowed Stevens’ label, Asthmatic Kitty, to continue to sell the already-manufactured copies of the album, they instructed them not to use the Superman image in any future pressings. Clark Kent was later replaced on future copies of ‘Illinois’ by three balloons, as you can see below.
And so by now you may have picked up upon why Marvel Comics’ involvement in ‘Illinois’’ reissue artwork is intriguing: after the mess with DC Comics upon its release in 2005, the permission granted this time round by Marvel for Srinivasan to add their IP to the cover of the reissue is a rather snide move that’s been made at the expense of their competitor. Sublime trolling, Marvel.
If you’re new to ‘Illinois’ – recently ranked at No. 138 in our list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time – you can check out NME’s original review of the album here.