Weekend links 86

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Salammbô by Alastair (Hans Henning Voigt) from Harry Crosby‘s Red Skeletons (1927). Dover published a new collection of Alastair’s drawings in September.

A Taste of Honey showed working-class women from a working-class woman’s point of view, had a gay man as a central and sympathetic figure, and a black character who was neither idealised nor a racial stereotype.” RIP Shelagh Delaney. Related: Shelagh Delaney’s Salford (1960), directed by Ken Russell, and all 47 minutes (!) of The White Bus (1967), Lindsay Anderson’s strange, pre-If…. short, written by Shelagh Delaney, filmed in and around Manchester.

Since birth I’ve craved all things psychedelic, the energy and beauty of it. The pleasure… […] But in the US the exploration of consciousness and its powers—or really any curiosity about anything at all—is actively discouraged, because the system is so corrupt that it depends on people being virtually unconscious all the time. Burroughs cracked that code long ago. Spirituality here equals money; no one seems to be able to think, never mind explore their own consciousness.

Laurie Weeks: Making Magic Out of the Real

• Ian Albinson shows us The Title Design of Saul Bass while Ace Jet 170 has a copy of the new Bass monograph.

Kris Kool (1970) at 50 Watts, Philip Caza’s lurid, erotic, psychedelic comic strip.

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Götz Krafft by EM Lilien from a collection at Flickr.

Serious Listeners: The Strange and Frightening World of Coil.

The Octopus Chronicles, a new blog at Scientific American.

• We now live in a world where there are Ghost Box badges.

Kilian Eng interviewed at Sci-Fi-O-Rama.

Dalí Planet

Bedabbled!

A Taste of Honey (1962) by Acker Bilk | A Taste of Honey (1965) by Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass | A Taste of Honey (Moog version) (1969) by Martin Denny.

Penguin Surrealism

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Design by Germano Facetti with a detail from Europe after the Rain by Max Ernst.

Is this the start of a new meme? Ace Jet 170 features a number of posts about the history of Penguin and Pelican book cover design. (I won’t link to any specific page as the site is full of other good stuff which you really ought to go and look at.) Now Dan Hill at City of Sound has followed suit, inspiring me to dig out a few choice volumes connected by theme, in this case the use of Surrealist paintings for cover art.

See also:
The Penguin Collectors’ Society
The Penguin Paperback Spotters’ Guild (Flickr pool)

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Barney Bubbles: artist and designer

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Image-heavy post! Please be patient.

Four designs for three bands, all by the same designer, the versatile and brilliant Barney Bubbles. A recent reference over at Ace Jet 170 to the sleeve for In Search of Space by Hawkwind made me realise that Barney Bubbles receives little posthumous attention outside the histories of his former employers. Since he was a major influence on my career I thought it time to give him at least part of the appraisal he deserves. His work has grown in relevance to my own even though I stopped working for Hawkwind myself in 1985, not least because I’ve made a similar transition away from derivative space art towards pure design. Barney Bubbles was equally adept at design as he was at illustration, unlike contemporaries in the album cover field such as Roger Dean (mainly an illustrator although he did create lettering designs) and Hipgnosis (who were more designers and photographers who drafted in illustrators when required).

Colin Fulcher became Barney Bubbles sometime in the late sixties, probably when he was working either part-time or full-time with the underground magazines such as Oz and later Friends/Frendz. He enjoyed pseudonyms and was still using them in the 1980s; Barney Bubbles must have been one that stuck. The Friends documentary website mentions that he may have worked in San Francisco for a while with Stanley Mouse, something I can easily believe since his early artwork has the same direct, high-impact quality as the best of the American psychedelic posters. Barney brought that sensibility to album cover design. His first work for Hawkwind, In Search of Space, is a classic of inventive packaging.

Update: BB didn’t work with Mouse in SF, I’ve now been told.

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Hawkwind: In Search of Space (1971).

It’s fair to say that Hawkwind were very lucky to find Barney Bubbles, he immediately gave their music—which was often rambling and semi-improvised at the time—a compelling visual dimension that exaggerated their science fiction image while still presenting different aspects of the band’s persona. In Search of Space is an emblematic design that opens out to reveal a poster layout inside. One of the things that distinguishes Barney Bubbles’ designs from other illustrators of this period is a frequent use of hard graphical elements, something that’s here right at the outset of his work for Hawkwind.

This album also included a Bubbles-designed “Hawklog”, a booklet purporting to be the logbook of the crew of the Hawkwind spacecraft. I scanned my copy some time ago and converted it to a PDF; you can download it here.

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