The art of Sadao Hasegawa, 1945–1999


(No title) from Sadao Hasegawa 01 (1990).

It’s good to be able to finish the year with another artistic discovery. I’d not come across Sadao Hasegawa’s work before but this page has an extensive (complete?) selection of his paintings and drawings. This is gay erotica with a twist, being Japanese in origin yet incorporating figures and symbolism derived from Indian or Thai mythology, detailed psychotropic invention and the kind of angular motifs common in much illustration and design of the 1980s. A heady brew, in other words, and quite unique as a result, which makes it all the more tragic that he committed suicide in 1999. At least one of his books, Paradise Visions, is still available in Japan but a decent collection of his work for a western audience is obviously long overdue.


Paradise Visions (1996).

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Hugh Ferriss and The Metropolis of Tomorrow


Philosophy from The Metropolis of Tomorrow (1929).

I’ve procrastinated for an entire year over the idea of writing something about Hugh Ferriss and now this marvellous Flickr set has forced my hand. Ferriss (1889–1962) was a highly-regarded architectural renderer in the Twenties and Thirties, chiefly employed creating large drawings to show the clients of architects how their buildings would look when completed. But he was also an architectural theorist and his 1929 book, The Metropolis of Tomorrow, which lays out his ideas for cities of the future, was a major influence on the work I produced for the Lord Horror comics during the 1990s. Ferriss’s book appeared two years after Fritz Lang’s Metropolis but bears little resemblance to Lang’s simplistic tale, despite superficial similarities. Rather than a science fiction warning, The Metropolis of Tomorrow was a serious proposal for the creation of Art Deco-styled megacities.


Lord Horror: Hard Core Horror #5 (1990).

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James Bond postage stamps




Proving once again the centrality of James Bond to contemporary British identity, the Royal Mail releases these stamps on January 8th, 2008, the 100th anniversary of Ian Fleming’s birth. If a sexist state assassin seems an awkward choice of cultural ambassador, Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill present a more iconoclastic view of the super spy in the Black Dossier, the latest volume in their unfolding history of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Good to see that the stamp designs above include the Pan paperback covers from 1963. (The other examples are the first editions from Jonathan Cape, the 2006 Penguin reprints and what appear to be a set of Seventies reissues.) A friend of mine at school had a collection of the Pan books and they remain my favourite Bond book designs, not least because they were some of the first book covers to strike me as being well-designed rather than well-illustrated. What the Flickr link doesn’t show is the die-cut holes in the Thunderball jacket which made the cover seem as though it was pierced by bullets, the kind of expensive production detail you rarely see on anything other than a bestseller.

And while we’re on the subject of Bond design, Daniel Kleinman’s superb Casino Royale title sequence is on YouTube.

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Please Mr. Postman