The man who wasn’t Tesla


Searching through old emails last week reminded me that a couple of years ago I’d supplied some art for use in a steampunk-themed bar in Gran Canaria. I would have mentioned this before now but, as is often the way with freelance commissions, once the negotiations were over I dispatched the art then heard nothing more about the project.


A search for the bar this week revealed a number of things: the place in question is the Tesla Steampunk Bar in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria; the artwork did indeed get used to prominent effect, with the main elements of my picture being positioned behind the bar itself; and it wasn’t immediately obvious whether the place was still open. Subsequent searching (and some Google translating of the bar’s Facebook page) further revealed that the bar has been closed but is in the process of relaunching itself.


As to the artwork, this was adapted from the second version of a design I produced for Jeff VanderMeer in 2008 to illustrate a semi-serious steampunk slogan of Jeff’s devising. Ten years ago steampunk was still a very minor subgenre, and one with few visual signifiers. I quickly hacked together a piece using imagery taken from the Dover Pictorial Archive series, a collection of books which are useful but whose engraved illustrations have since been plundered endlessly for this type of work.


When I’m collaging things today I try and avoid using too much from the Dover books so I’ve been pained that this particular design, especially the goggle-wearing head, has proved so popular. Even when people haven’t asked to use the head itself I’ve been asked to do something similar, as was the case with the Aether Cola can I designed in 2012. The Tesla people used a stripped-down version of the colour design which I scaled to very large size. They also have a picture of the flying man on their wall but I’ve not found any good photos of him.


The original head, meanwhile, was used again last year in a new design for yet another business. Dr Pieper is a steampunk-themed chip shop (yes, really) in Amsterdam, a place with very nice antique decor by the looks of their Instagram page. My variant designs may be seen in the window and in their advertising graphics.


The head itself was found in Men, one of several collections of engraved illustrations edited for Dover Publications by Jim Harter. Some of Harter’s other books identify the pictures but not this one, so the identity of the portrait was unknown until, in my attempts to avoid the Dover books, I found a picture of Joseph Edgar Boehm in Hill’s Album of Biography and Art (1882). Boehm was a sculptor of a rather staid and respectable kind, being commissioned for royal portraiture among other things. I can’t imagine he’d be thrilled to find his posthumous image looking down on a drinking house and a chip shop, but sculptors often seem to be more easily forgotten than painters so he’s doing better than many of his contemporaries.


And while on the subject of steampunk, I ought to note that there’s a steampunk convention taking place in Morecambe at the beginning of June. I won’t be in attendance (they did ask) but I said I’d mention the event here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The George Dower Trilogy by KW Jeter
Steampunk in the Tank
More vapour trails
Steampunk catalogued
Steampunk: The Art of Victorian Futurism
Steampunk Calendar
Words and pictures
Nathanial Krill at the Time Node
Fiendish Schemes
Ghosts in Gaslight, Monsters in Steam
Steampunk Revolution
The Bookman Histories
Aether Cola
Crafting steampunk illustrations
SteamPunk Magazine
Morlocks, airships and curious cabinets
The Steampunk Bible
Steampunk Reloaded
Steampunk overloaded!
More Steampunk and the Crawling Chaos
Steampunk Redux
Steampunk framed
Steampunk Horror Shortcuts

Weekend links 405


Taro Okamoto’s Tower of the Sun on the cover of an Expo ’70 guide.

• Last week I was watching the restored print of Howard Brookner’s excellent William Burroughs documentary, Burroughs. Among the later scenes are shots of the writer visiting Britain in the autumn of 1982 for the Final Academy events, a visit also recorded on Super-8 by Derek Jarman, and by the video cameras of the Haçienda nightclub at a reading I was fortunate to attend. Included in the Brookner film are brief snatches of an interview with Burroughs for BBC Radio 1 by John Peel’s producer, John Walters, something I missed when it was first broadcast.

• Taro Okamoto’s Tower of the Sun was built in Osaka for Expo ’70, and unlike many one-off expo buildings has managed to survive years of neglect and threats of demolition. Visitors to the Tower may now explore the restored “Tree of Life” interior, although places are limited so it’s necessary to book in advance. Related: Expo ’70 at ExpoMuseum, and Tower Of The Sun (1997) by Shonen Knife.

• Also at Dangerous Minds this week: a 1969 TV recording of Krzysztof Penderecki’s notorious The Devils of Loudon, an opera based on the same Aldous Huxley book as Ken Russell’s The Devils, and which includes (among other things) a singing nun enduring a forced enema.

• The new Cavern Of Anti-Matter album, Hormone Lemonade, is released this week. XLR8R has a preview. Related: an old/undated mix by Tim Gane for The Brain radio show here.

Milton Glaser on some of his favourite posters. Milton Glaser Posters, a book collecting 427 poster designs, is published this week by Abrams.

• The Ghosts of Empty Moments: Christopher Burke reviews M. John Harrison’s You Should Come with Me Now.

• Mixes of the week: FACT mix 644 by Susanna, and XLR8R Podcast 534 by Pär Grindvik.

Emily Temple found 25 of the most expensive books you can buy on the internet.

Towers Of Dub (1992) The Orb | Tower Of Our Tuning (2001) by Broadcast | Television Tower (2001) by Monolake

A Year In The Country: the book


I kept intending to mention this before but the workload has been off the scale this year: all very stimulating but it’s been eating into my spare time. More about all of that later, for now there’s the new book from A Year In The Country’s Stephen Prince which was launched earlier this month in ebook form, and which will be available in print next month.


The book is a reworking of the Year In The Country website in printed form, hence the subtitle—”Journeys in Otherly Pastoralism, the Further Reaches of Folk and the Parallel Worlds of Hauntology”—and as such is very useful as a guide to the byways which the site has been exploring for the past few years. The folk-horror subgenre isn’t exactly unexplored today—the Folk Horror Revival book to which I contributed ran to 500 pages—but A Year In The Country has always had a broader reach, taking in related works in the music world, in science-fiction film and television, and in offshoots of science fact such as Cold War paranoia and nostalgia for the Space Race. I regard myself as being reasonably au fait with most of this material but there’s still a lot on the website (and now in the book) which I hadn’t come across before. There are no illustrations, unfortunately, but the website has recently been posting the missing pictorial content. A Year In The Country: Wandering Through Spectral Fields will be published on April 10th, and is available for pre-order here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
All The Merry Year Round
The Quietened Cosmologists
From The Furthest Signals
The Restless Field
The Marks Upon The Land
The Forest / The Wald
The Quietened Bunker
Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies

Weekend links 404


Magazine illustration of The Fallen Angel (1877) by Ricardo Bellver, a statue for The Fountain of the Fallen Angel in Madrid

• Obituaries of the late Stephen Hawking were obliged to concentrate on the professor’s disabilities and global celebrity while skirting around the trickier questions of what he actually spent the best part of his life thinking, writing and talking about. Roger Penrose was not only a friend of Hawking’s for many years but also one of his equally skilled professional colleagues. Penrose’s piece for the Guardian was notable for the way it provided a succinct but informed summary of Hawking’s work at the forefront of theoretical physics.

Brian Eno has announced a box set of old or previously unheard recordings for his artworks, Music For Installations. (Be warned that the various editions range from expensive to very expensive.)

• Flame 1 is the name of a collaboration between The Bug and Burial. The Quietus has an exclusive preview from the forthcoming album.

• Mixes of the week: XLR8R Podcast 533 by µ-Ziq, and Secret Thirteen Mix 249 by Eva Geist.

• Buy High, Sell Cheap: Elianna Kan interviews Alejandro Jodorowsky.

• At Dangerous Minds: Addams Family comic books from 1974.

• Advanced Creepology: Re-Reading Lolita by Michael Doliner.

• A Quietus list of the 40 best compilation albums of all time.

• At Spoon & Tamago: An anti-decluttering house.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: The Spheres.

Physical (1981) by Olivia Newton-John | (Let’s Get) Physical (1990) by Revolting Cocks | UK Girls (Physical) (2001) by Goldfrapp

Calendrier Magique


The Calendrier Magique was created in 1895 by Austin De Croze, with pages decorated and illustrated by Manuel Orazi. In addition to being a calendar for the year 1896, the booklet (which was printed in an edition of 777 copies) is also a fascinating bogus grimoire which did the internet rounds a few years ago when scans appeared on a sub-site hosted by Cornell University Library. While it was good to see the pages at all, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who would have preferred a closer look at the details, something which is now possible thanks to a recent upload at Gallica.


The Gallica copy is also downloadable as a PDF so there’s no need to replicate all the contents here. Something worth noting which did occur to me when I first saw Orazi’s drawings was the striking similarity of the letterform sigils and the doodle-like figure below to the later, more seriously-intended occult art of Austin Spare. Neither Orazi nor the Calendrier Magique receives a mention in Phil Baker’s biography of Spare but a copy of the calendar could have made its way to a London book shop where Spare might have seen it.



Previously on { feuilleton }
Typefaces of the occult revival
Manuel Orazi’s Salomé
La belle sans nom