Jacques d’Adelswärd-Fersen revisited


Messes Noires. Lord Lyllian (1905).

An email earlier this week from French bookdealer Chez les libraires associés contained a link to an online catalogue of books by or related to that disreputable Uranian Jacques d’Adelswärd-Fersen, the subject of this earlier post. The catalogue describes the poet as “l’Oscar Wilde français” which isn’t strictly true since Wilde had (and has) a far higher literary reputation. And when it came to homosexual scandal Fersen didn’t suffer anything like Wilde’s appalling treatment, he simply decamped (so to speak) to Capri with his boyfriend, Nino Cesarini. The latter is the subject of another document linked in the same email, Nino et son jumeau, an investigation (in French) concerning “Faces and legends of the friend of Jacques d’Adelswärd-Fersen. What is known of the appearance of Nino, are there pictures of him by von Gloeden, von Plüschow or Vincenzo Galdi?” A number of the pictures in question show Nino and others in various states of undress so those wishing to view the pages will need to be registered at Issuu first.

A couple more covers from the catalogue follow. All these publications are rare and correspondingly expensive but I still find it fascinating seeing any of this material at all when it’s been proscribed and ignored for so long. While we’re on the subject, I’ve only just noticed that Fersen’s Le Baiser de Narcisse (with illustrations by Ernest Brisset) can be viewed complete at Gallica.


Notre-Dame des mers mortes (1902).


Paradinya (1911).

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The gay artists archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Le Baiser de Narcisse

Leo Dillon, 1933–2012


Illustrations for Dangerous Visions (1967) by Leo & Diane Dillon.
top left: Lord Randy, My Son by Joe L. Hensley; top right: Gonna Roll the Bones by Fritz Leiber
; bottom left: The Happy Breed by John Sladek; bottom right: Shall the Dust Praise Thee? by Damon Knight

Beyond my love for them and my understanding that they have influenced my ethical and moral life almost more than anyone else I’ve ever known, my respect for their artistic intelligence and their incomparable craft is enormous. Leo and Diane Dillon are the best. Simply put: the best.

Harlan Ellison, from The Illustrated Harlan Ellison (1978)

Pre-internet, illustrators and designers often suffered from being landlocked by whatever territories (to use that wretched marketing term) the work they embellished was sold in. I’ve said as much in the past but it’s worth repeating since it explains how reputations could loom large in one country while the artists in question might be unknown elsewhere. Leo and Diane Dillon are a good example of this, lauded in the US for work that spanned a variety styles and media yet barely visible in Europe unless you chanced across an imported paperback bearing one of their covers. Their long and fruitful relationship with Harlan Ellison saw them illustrate many of his major works, books which when they were reprinted here were often packaged with inappropriate spaceship art by Chris Foss or one of his imitators. Happily the Dillons’ superb woodcut illustrations for Ellison’s Dangerous Visions anthology survived the journey across the Atlantic. I still find those illustrations thrilling for the way they condensed the essence of thirty-two challenging stories with the greatest economy of means. And thanks to the internet we can see just how versatile they were at The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon. That site also includes links to interviews and further examples of their art.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Science fiction and fantasy covers
Groovy book covers
Harlan Ellison: Dreams with Sharp Teeth

Ah Pook Is Here


John Calder edition (1979). Design by Brian Paine incorporating a glyph of Ah Pook from the Dresden Codex.

It would have been tempting to write “Ah Pook is finally here” but that’s not quite the case. Artist Malcolm McNeill sent Savoy Books the following preview images last week. What was originally going to be the long-awaited publication of McNeill’s collaboration with William Burroughs, Ah Pook Is Here, will now be two separate volumes published by Fantagraphics Books later this year: The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here which will comprise McNeill’s art without the accompanying text (apparently the Burroughs estate objected to its inclusion), and Observed While Falling—Burroughs, Ah Pook and Me, a memoir of the project’s creation. The loss of the text is an annoyance but not the end of the world, at least if you’re fortunate enough to own the scarce Calder book above which comprises a 40-page story that I imagine (and hope) may be read whilst viewing McNeill’s meticulous artwork. Amazon’s listing shows the two books scheduled for October 2012, and there’s now a website for the two books with further preview images.



The 1979 Ah Pook Is Here is a fascinating collection, not least for the title piece which fits with the Wild Boys/Port of Saints narratives that Burroughs worked on during the 1970s. It’s also one of the better Burroughs anthologies so it’s always seemed odd that it’s remained resolutely out of print. Burroughs mentions McNeill’s artwork in a preface but doesn’t show any examples of his work. There is other artwork, however: in addition to some uncredited line drawings of figures like those in the Mayan codices there’s the whole of The Book of Breeething, a collaboration with artist Robert F. Gale from 1974. The latter concerns Burroughs’ interest in hieroglyphic communication, and attempts to show how one might convey short sentences through visual images alone, as in the pages below.


The Book of Breeething (1974).


The final piece in the book is The Electronic Revolution, an essay about using technology for guerilla purposes which was an inspiration for Cabaret Voltaire and others. All of this is choice and unusual material so it’s surprising that it’s been out of print for so long. In the case of Ah Pook Is Here it’s even more surprising to find it being prevented from republication despite Burroughs’ hope in his 1978 preface that the text would eventually be published along with the artwork. I’m sure the Burroughs estate have their own reasons for these manoeuvres but you can’t help but feel that this is another example of best intentions acting posthumously against the wishes of the artist they represent. A final irony can be found on the first page of Ah Pook Is Here where we see several mentions of a predatory agency that Burroughs warned against throughout his career, the thing he called CONTROL.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Jarek Piotrowski’s Soft Machine
Looking for the Wild Boys
Wroblewski covers Burroughs
Mugwump jism
Brion Gysin’s walk, 1966
Burroughs in Paris
William Burroughs interviews
Soft machines
Burroughs: The Movie
William S Burroughs: A Man Within
The Final Academy
William Burroughs book covers
Towers Open Fire

A Reverbstorm jukebox


Another in a series of posts that supplement the forthcoming Reverbstorm book. Music, especially the rock’n’roll of the mid-50s to the mid-60s, was an important motor in Reverbstorm‘s creation: the title comes from the lyrics to Paul Temple’s song, and the song itself was included as a CD-single with the first issue. Each issue opened with a playlist of ten pieces of music offered as a complement to the narrative. We alternated the choices: David Britton chose the first ten, I chose ten for the second issue and so on. Dave’s choices were mainly the rock’n’roll he’s been listening to all his life while I tried to balance this with a more eclectic selection. But in Reverbstorm itself it’s the rock’n’roll that’s referenced the most, and it was this era of music we were both listening to a great deal during the composition of the series.

What follows is a guide to some of the songs and instrumentals referred to in the book, together with some of my favourite tracks from a compilation tape I used to play repeatedly while I was drawing. A few of these tracks are very obscure one-off singles so this list serves an additional function in saving people the trouble of hunting around.


Bo Diddley (1955) by Bo Diddley
Part 3 of Reverbstorm, “The Big Beat of Apes”, is subtitled “Bo Diddley meets William Hope Hodgson”, and it’s to the Bo Diddley Beat that we’re referring. Diddley recycled his highly influential riff/rhythm many times, and inspired many cover versions, pastiches or outright thefts. A heady mix of these may be heard on one of the key albums for the creation of the series, a 1989 vinyl-only compilation entitled Bo Did It! which gathered seventeen obscure Diddley Beat singles. A couple of these are listed in Lord Horror’s radio playlist seen in part two, while others are present in this list. But this Bo Diddley song is where it all begins.

Bottle To The Baby (1956) by Charlie Feathers
Classic hiccoughing rockabilly and a favourite of Savoy cult band The Cramps who covered Feathers’ I Can’t Hardly Stand It. Bottle To The Baby gets a mention in part 3 while Charlie himself is quoted in part 8.

The Monkey (Speaks His Mind) (1957) by Dave Bartholomew
A moral tale from Mr Bartholomew, also quoted in part 3.

Esquerita And The Voola (1958) by Esquerita
Often cited as the guy that Little Richard stole all everything from, the very flamboyant Eskew Reeder Jr had an erratic career which yielded this berserk highlight, the B-side of his Rockin’ The Joint single. I first heard this when Dave played it in Savoy’s Peter Street shop one day and couldn’t believe how crazy it sounded. It’s also hard to believe it was on a major label. Play loud.

Hootchy-Koo (1958) by Larry Williams
Larry Williams was the prince of big bawdy numbers like this, and a favourite of The Beatles who covered three of his songs. The version I used to listen to was a slightly different demo recording (not on YT, unfortunately). Lucy Swan liked Hootchy-Koo so much she mentions it in her Lord Horror-related novel The Adventures of Little Lou.

Rumble (1958) by Link Wray
The ultimate swaggering riff and the moment where the guitar takes over from the saxophone as the locus of menace in popular music. Most people have probably heard this in the background of the Jack Rabbit Slim’s scene in Pulp Fiction but you’ll find it elsewhere, notably a Ry Cooder cover version in Streets of Fire, the highlight of an otherwise lacklustre film.

Alligator Wine (1958) by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
The witches’ recipe from Macbeth gets reworked by Leiber & Stoller as a swampland love potion for Screamin’ Jay.

Storm Warning (1959) by Mac Rebennack
Before a bullet ruined one of his fingers, Dr John was guitarist Mac Rebennack whose early career produced some impressive singles such as this Diddley Beat instrumental. That title is now impossible to disassociate from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Tall Cool One (1959) by The Wailers
The Wailers, a Seattle group, are often listed now as The Fabulous Wailers to distinguish them from Bob Marley’s group. They had a knack for catchy instrumentals; in addition to this there was also Mau Mau.

Wang Dang Doodle (1960) by Howlin’ Wolf
Given a choice between this version of Willy Dixon’s song and the later Koko Taylor recording (which includes Dixon on vocals) I’d probably choose Koko’s but the Wolf came first, and this was the one Dave listed in the first issue of the series.

I Want Some of That (1961) by Kai Ray
One from the Lord’s playlist in part 2.

Let There Be Drums (1961) by Sandy Nelson
Sandy Nelson made a career out of recording drum instrumentals. This thundering opus is his finest moment.


Bo Did It! (1989)

Boom Stix (1962) by Curley and The Jades
Who the hell were Curley and The Jades? Don’t ask me but this obscure single from the Bo Did It! collection manages to weld a Sandy Nelson drum break to the Diddley Beat.

Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow (1962) by The Rivingtons
One of the great nonsense hits, and endlessly imitated afterwards, the title gets a mention in part 2. Kim Fowley had something to do with the release so it’s fitting that he’s wound up with Savoy as well, having written the insert notes to the recent Fenella Fielding album.

Surfin’ Bird (1963) by The Trashmen
Of all the copyists and imitators that chased The Rivingtons’ success none can approach these two minutes and twenty seconds of demented genius.

The Fourth Dimension (1964) by The Ventures
I find a little of The Ventures’ twanging instrumentals usually goes a long way, like many of these groups they work best on compilations. But I do like The Ventures in Space which is where this spooky David Lynch-style number originates.

Strychnine (1965) by The Sonics
Psycho would have been the obvious choice here but I tried to avoid being predictable. Everything The Sonics recorded sounds cranked to the point of distortion, and this is no exception. Garage punk at its wildest.

Bop Diddlie In The Jungle (1966) by Tommy King and The Starlites
Another track from Lord Horror’s playlist found on the Bo Did It! collection, this is Bo’s Diddley Daddy relocated to a jungle setting.

Electricity (1967) by Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band
The whole of Reverbstorm is dedicated to Trout Mask Replica but this was a track from one of my playlists. A compelling argument for why there should be more theremins in pop music.

I Wanna Be Your Dog (1969) by The Stooges
Lust For Life was the album I was playing a lot whilst drawing but this song was another of Dave’s choices. One of the Savoy “Lord Horror” singles in the 1980s was a cover of Raw Power.

Garbageman (1980) by The Cramps
And another of the Savoy “Lord Horror” singles was a cover of this unstoppable beast from The Cramps. “Do you want the real thing, or are you just talkin’?”

Previously on { feuilleton }
Reverbstorm: Bauhaus Horror
Reverbstorm: an introduction and preview

Weekend links 110


Til Eulenspiegel by Urban Janke. From Twenty Postcards of the Wiener Werkstätte at 50 Watts.

Rorschach Audio by Joe Banks is “essential reading for everyone interested in air-traffic control, anechoic chambers, artificial oxygen carriers, audio art, bell-ringing, cocktail parties, cognitive science, communications interference, compost, the death penalty, Electronic Voice Phenomena, evangelism, evolutionary biology, experimental music, ghosts, the historiography of art, illusions of sound and illusions of language, lip-reading jokes, nuclear blast craters, predictive texting, singing hair, sonic archives, sound design, steam trains, tinnitus, the Turing Test, Victorian blood painting, visual depth and space perception, ultrasonic visual music, ventriloquism, voices and warehouse fires and robberies.”

• “Freud did not understand female sexuality. Klimt did. Klimt’s women please themselves. The realization that women have an independent sexual life was an insight in art.” Eric Kandel discusses his new study The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present.

• Three new books already mentioned here receive further attention: Stan Persky on Christopher Bram’s Eminent Outlaws : The Gay Writers Who Changed America. | Matthew Aquilone on Paul Russell’s The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov. | Karin L. Kross on the new translation of the Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic.

The creative writing moment/movement baffles me and it intrigues me. What does it signify, all this creative longing? And why through language? Specifically fiction, poetry, memoir? […] The crazy part of it is that we are breeding professional, competent, homogenised writers who will go on to teach writing that is professional, competent and homogenised. The intriguing part of it is whether this movement towards creativity and self-expression is really the start of a kind of Occupy – that it could be dangerous and confrontational, not homogenised at all.

Dangerous? But then they won’t get published and win awards and get film deals and… Jeanette Winterson prepares to teach creative writing at Manchester University.

The Underground New York Public Library is a visual library featuring the Reading-Riders of the NYC subways.

Hob by No Man: “Constructed from soundtrack noises from both version of Quatermass and the Pit.”

Stephen Thrower talks about his soundtrack music for The Erotic Films of Peter De Rome.

John Waters surprises everyone by hitchhiking across the US.

• Sounds & the City: An interview with Julia Holter.

The Dead Dream of the Dirigible.

Meditation (1979) by Edward Artemyev.