Hawkwind: Days of the Underground

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As mentioned at the weekend, Joe Banks’ account of the first ten years of Hawkwind will be published by Strange Attractor Press later this year with a wraparound cover of my design. I never expected to be doing anything else for Hawkwind after moving on to other things in 1985, but it was the group’s first decade of music that fuelled the drawings which brought me to their attention, so this cover design brings everything full circle. The earliest of my Hawkwind drawings dates to 1979 which means this cover is also an anniversary piece.

The design combines Barney Bubbles’ Space Ritual template with elements of the art he created before and afterwards, notably the inner and outer sleeve of Doremi Fasol Latido, and the futuristic Art Deco of his tour poster for The “1999” Party. All the Bubbles Hawk-art up to and including Space Ritual is a blend of the ancient (Egypt, tribal motifs, characters that resemble pirates or barbarians), the previous century (Art Nouveau in particular), and the far future as depicted in comics and pulp magazines. I wanted to reflect this blend without being too imitative of the details, so the cover works a variation on Space Ritual, with a similar hieratic woman as the focus, and a margin of stylised flames separating the foreground from Laurie Lewis’s photos of the band (the latter are unused shots from the same session used for Space Ritual).

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Art by Bob Haberfield, 1970.

All the background elements run across the wrap but this hasn’t been revealed yet so you’ll have to wait a while to see the full design. The flames are based on Tibetan designs in a nod to the ancient side of the equation, as well as Bob Haberfield’s covers for the Moorcock novels published by Mayflower in the early 70s, many of which featured art derived from Tibetan Buddhism. (And one of the Mayflower Moorcocks, The Black Corridor, is the origin of the monologue of the same name on Space Ritual.) The full wrap shows a futuristic city whose Frank R. Paul-derived architecture is either on fire or menaced by a wall of encroaching flames. Many of Hawkwind’s songs of the period concern flight from cities or from the Earth itself—Born To Go, Time We Left (This World Today)—so the back cover also has a number of vehicles fleeing the scene: the radical escapism of the book’s subtitle in literal form. “Sign my release from this planet’s erosion,” as Nik Turner sings in Brainstorm.

Continue reading “Hawkwind: Days of the Underground”

Weekend links 355

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Quería ser pájaro (1960) by Leonora Carrington.

• Artist and author Leonora Carrington was born 100 years ago this week. Marina Warner, an advocate of Carrington’s work in the years when the artist was “forgotten” (ie: ignored by those who should have known better), remembered her friend as someone adept at making “visible the invisible”. Elsewhere, Carrington’s centenary was noted by Phantasmaphile (with many links), Strange Flowers and the LRB, the latter being a Leonora Carrington A-Z by Chloe Aridjis.

Geeta Dayal on Ikutaro Kakehashi who died this week. The synthesizers, drum machines, effects units and other gear produced by Kakehashi’s Roland Corporation are inextricably entwined with the development of electronic music in the 1970s and 80s.

• Do we really need a compilation of singles by Can? Not when all the music has been available for years on albums and compilations. Of more interest is Rob Young‘s forthcoming (well…not until next year) biography of the band, All Gates Open.

• Out from Thames & Hudson this week: Vinyl . Album . Cover . Art: The Complete Hipgnosis Catalogue by Aubrey Powell.

• At Dangerous Minds: The Master of Moorcock: The psychedelic sci-fi book covers and art of Bob Haberfield.

Abigail Ward on Queer Noise: the history of LGBT+ music & club culture in Manchester.

FullFathom5, home of “something rich and strange” makes a welcome return.

• At Flickr: Occult Beliefs and Themes in British Popular Culture (1875–1947)

• At I Love Typography: Jamie Clarke on the evolution of chromatic fonts.

• Mix of the week: a mix for The Wire by Patterned Air Recordings.

Invisible Cities (1990) by Invaders Of The Heart | Invisible Architecture (1997) by John Foxx | Invisible (2005) by Monolake

More trip texts

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More psychedelia of a sort. Anthologist Michel Parry, who died last year, was a familiar name to British readers of fantasy, horror and science fiction for his themed collections: Beware of the Cat (1972; horror stories about cats), The Devil’s Children (1974; horror stories about children), The Hounds of Hell (1974; horror stories about dogs), Jack the Knife (1975; Jack the Ripper stories), The Supernatural Solution (1976; occult investigators), Sex in the 21st Century (1979), and so on.

Parry also compiled multi-volume anthologies throughout the 1970s, two of which have always stood out for me: the Mayflower Books of Black Magic Stories ran to six volumes presenting a wide range of occult fiction that included a number of obscure tales from Victorian and Edwardian writers; for Panther Books he compiled three collections of drug-related fantasy and SF stories that are just as varied, and may even be unique for the way they place authors as such as Lord Dunsany and Norman Spinrad together in the same volume. Both series are very much of their time—occult psychedelia!—and are worth seeking out, if you can find them. I emphasise the last point because it’s taken me a while to find a copy of Strange Ecstasies that wasn’t being offered for bizarrely inflated prices; my paperback habit has its limits… None of these anthologies have been reprinted so they’ll become increasingly scarce. For more invented drugs, there’s a good list at Wikipedia.

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Cover art by Bob Haberfield.

Strange Ecstasies (1973)
The Plutonian Drug (1934) by Clark Ashton Smith
The Dream Pills (1920) by FH Davis
The White Powder (1895) by Arthur Machen
The New Accelerator (1901) by HG Wells
The Big Fix (1956) by Richard Wilson
The Secret Songs (1962) by Fritz Leiber
The Hounds of Tindalos (1929) by Frank Belknap Long
Subjectivity (1964) by Norman Spinrad
What to Do Until the Analyst Comes (1956) by Frederik Pohl
Pipe Dream (1972) by Chris Miller

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Cover art by Bob Haberfield.

Dream Trips (1974)
The Hashish Man (1910) by Lord Dunsany
As Dreams Are Made On (1973) by Joseph F. Pumilia
The Adventure of the Pipe (1898) by Richard Marsh
Dream-Dust from Mars (1938) by Manly Wade Wellman
The Life Serum (1926) by Paul S. Powers
Morning After (1957) by Robert Sheckley
Under the Knife (1896) by HG Wells
The Good Trip (1970) by Ursula K. Le Guin
No Direction Home (1971) by Norman Spinrad
The Phantom Drug (1926) by AW Kapfer

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Cover art by Brian Froud.

Spaced Out (1977)
The Deep Fix (1964) by Michael Moorcock
All the Weed in the World (1961) by Fritz Leiber
The Roger Bacon Formula (1929) by Fletcher Pratt
Smoke of the Snake (1934) by Carl Jacobi
Melodramine (1965) by Henry Slesar
My Head’s in a Different Place, Now (1972) by Grania Davis
Sky (1971) by RA Lafferty
All of Them Were Empty— (1972) by David Gerrold

Previously on { feuilleton }
Trip texts
Acid albums
Acid covers
Lyrical Substance Deliberated
The Art of Tripping, a documentary by Storm Thorgerson
Enter the Void
In the Land of Retinal Delights
Haschisch Hallucinations by HE Gowers
The art of LSD
Hep cats

Moorcock: Faith, Hope and Anxiety

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Photo of the author by Linda Moorcock.

I mentioned a few days ago that I had another new piece of work to reveal, and this is it, a poster/promotional piece for Russell Wall’s forthcoming documentary about Michael Moorcock. The main challenge with one was to create something that would give a sense of Moorcock’s extensive career and the genre-spanning content of his many books.

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I took the 1970s as the starting point, since this was the period when his reputation as a writer was established worldwide. The decade began with Britain’s bookshelves being colonised by Moorcock’s SF and fantasy novels published by Mayflower with vivid covers; it saw a cult feature film—The Final Programme—made from his first Jerry Cornelius novel, and it ended with the fourth Jerry Cornelius novel, The Condition of Muzak, winning a serious literary award, the Guardian Fiction Prize.

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So the general appearance of the design, the headline typography, and the colour scheme are a nod to the Mayflower covers and especially to Bob Haberfield’s artwork which often used a similar style of Tibetan flames and clouds. The rest of the type is set in Rockwell, a preferred typeface of the Hipgnosis design team for much of the 1970s. Early on I had the idea of filling the design with stylised graphics like those used by some of the Hipgnosis illustrators, chiefly George Hardie, but that idea receded once the composition began to arrange itself. The fountain pen is the main hangover from this, a hard-edged graphic tilted at an angle like many of Hardie’s illustrations. The pen is a little inappropriate given that Moorcock is famous for knocking out novels at speed on a typewriter but it made a good visual rhyme with the guitar, a Rickenbacker like the one the author played in his Deep Fix band.

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Elsewhere there are many specific references competing for attention: the Elric head is Jim Cawthorn’s illustration from the first edition of Stormbringer (1965); the Jerry Cornelius figure (straddling a repurposed Mayflower logo) is one of Mal Dean’s best, as seen on the cover of issue 191 of New Worlds magazine; the sorcerous blades are my own designs from 1985 as seen on the sleeve of Hawkwind’s Chronicle of the Black Sword album; the Beardsley figures from Salomé were a vague gesture to the 1890s but the Pierrot figure happens to be one Moorcock used for a while as a bookplate, something I didn’t know until I’d placed it in the design; the cat at Pierrot’s feet is another Beardsley from one of the Bon-Mots books; the London skyline is a contemporary one, London past and present having been a continual feature of Moorcock’s writing throughout his career. Lastly, all these details are contained by a graphic based on Abram Games’ BBC TV ident from the 1950s. When Russell and I began talking about this project the words “television biography” were being used so this would have connected to that idea, and to the decade when Moorcock’s career began.

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I don’t know when the documentary will be released but any news will be posted here in due course. There’s also talk of making copies of the poster available for purchase but nothing concrete has been decided yet.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Eduardo Paolozzi at New Worlds
Elric 1: Le trône de rubis
Into the Media Web by Michael Moorcock
The Best of Michael Moorcock
Revenant volumes: Bob Haberfield, New Worlds and others

Weekend links 46

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The Final Programme (1973). Philip Castle’s poster art implied the androgynous finale of Moorcock’s novel which the film itself evaded.

They were musty-smelling 10p messages from the futuristic past, complete with cover designs (and content) that were unlike anything I’d seen before. I’m fairly certain that this was how I first came across Michael Moorcock, in an early-70s Mayflower paperback, with a psychedelic cover by Bob Haberfield.

(…)

Moorcock steered New Worlds towards a set of concerns that chimed with the times; this was the period ruled by Marshal McLuhan and RD Laing, and the exploration of “inner space” seemed just as interesting as the “outer space” of satellites and moonshots. This turn was controversial, not just with die-hard pulp fans, but, surprisingly, with people such as the pop artist Richard Hamilton, another denizen of the London scene. “He thought we were turning science fiction into something namby-pamby, losing its roots,” Moorcock says. “He wanted explosions and spaceships and robots.”

When Hari Kunzru met Michael Moorcock, a major feature on a great writer and cultural catalyst. Kunzru posted the full transcript of their conversation here. Jovike’s Moorcock Flickr set has many of the lurid Mayflower covers.

• Moorcock is among the contributors to the forthcoming Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiositities. io9 posted a list of contents (and one of my pics) while co-editor Jeff VanderMeer added some detail.

• So long to The White Stripes whose dissolution was announced earlier in the week. We know they’ll be back one day. Jay Babcock gave them their first major interview for the LA Weekly in 2000 which he’s reposted here.

Mister Blues (1962) by Lasry-Baschet aka Structures Sonores, a rare 7″ single showcasing the unique glass-and-metal sounds of the Cristal Baschet. Young Teddy Lasry on clarinet was playing in prog-jazz outfit Magma a few years later. Related: John Payne on Magma and The Mars Volta.

Here’s one thing that changed me: a close reading of Flannery O’Connor’s Mysteries and Manners. In it, she says that, “it is the business of fiction to embody mystery through manners,” manners being those concrete details — depictions of the real — in story. “Mystery through manners…” I had never heard a modern author seeking deep metaphysical mystery through realism before. Well, sure, Robert Musil, Bruno Schulz, Robert Walser, and a handful of other personal faves. By deep mystery I mean, mystery about our relationship with the planet, not anthropocentric mystery. I get sick of thinking about humans quickly, as we only constitute about 1% of what’s happening in our universe, if that much, and it was refreshing to me to hear O’Connor critiquing Henry James’ idea that modern people should aspire to know nothing of mystery, to be completely rooted in humanity. That notion makes me feel like hurling myself off a cliff. In her opinion, great literature seeks to embrace and express mystery through its mimicry of actual mannerisms. Mystery — fantasy — through the real. And with that, the borders between fantasy and realism were completely transgressed in my brain. Suddenly, I saw them as two good means to the same end. This made me excited to write real human situations again.

Trinie Dalton is interviewed here.

• And speaking of mystery through the real, there’s London Intrusion, a sequence of metropolitan adumbrations by China Miéville. Am I the only person to spot an intrusion of a different kind in the presence there of one of Eugène Atget’s Parisian views? There’s a doorway to Viriconium in that curious wedge of buildings but nobody can tell you where.

Rupert Murdoch—A Portrait of Satan. Adam Curtis on top form looking at the Dirty Digger’s career and a reminder of why some of us have always called one of his rags The Scum. A key point for me: Murdoch’s insecure railing against “elites”, a favourite term of aspersion on his Fox News network.

• Rick Poynor asks What Does JG Ballard Look Like? Related: “…only two people in Bucharest are going to read this.” Eduardo Paolozzi in conversation with JG Ballard and Frank Whitford, 1971.

How many days does Bill Murray’s character really spend reliving Groundhog Day?

• Silent Porn Star explores The Translucent Beauty of Androgyny.

Ballets Russes brought back to life on film, and also here.

Dewanatron Electronic Music Instruments.

RIP Tura Satana. Remember her this way.

Warm Leatherette (1978) by The Normal | Warm Leatherette (1982) by Grace Jones | Warm Leatherette (1998) by Chicks On Speed.