L’outrageant Lord Horror

shoah1.jpg

Cover art by Enki Bilal.

Arriving in the post this week was the catalogue for the Shoah et bande dessinée exhibition which is currently running in Paris at Mémorial de la Shoah. I’ve mentioned previously that the exhibition includes some of my pages from my first collaboration with David Britton/Savoy, the death-camp issue of the first Lord Horror series, Hard Core Horror, but until the catalogue arrived I wasn’t sure how that work would be presented. Consequently, I’m surprised to find the comic and Britton’s wider Lord Horror project given a section of its own in the catalogue, with a lengthy appraisal by British comics historian Paul Gravett. The text is French throughout so I can’t follow Gravett’s piece very well but it looks to be an expansion of earlier pieces he’s written about the Savoy comics and their troubled history.

shoah2.jpg

The book itself is a solid production that I’m pleased to find following the hardback “album” format used by Continental comics. Denoël Graphic, a publisher of bandes dessinées, is the publisher. Among the other artists represented are Will Eisner and Art Spiegelman (of course), plus many French artists whose work I hadn’t seen before. The exhibition runs throughout the year to 30th October, 2017.

shoah3.jpg

shoah4.jpg

Previously on { feuilleton }
Exhibitionism

Exhibitionism

bilal.jpg

Art by Enki Bilal.

My work is featured in two very different exhibitions over the next few weeks, so different, in fact, that they’re almost at opposite poles to each other.

hch5.jpg

Hard Core Horror 5 (1990).

The first, Shoah et bande dessinée, takes place at Mémorial de la Shoah, Paris, and opens on 19th January. This is an exhibition of comic-book art dealing with the Holocaust, and will include three of my pages from the death-camp scenes in the final issue of the Lord Horror series, Hard Core Horror (created with David Britton in 1990, and published by Savoy). This is one instance where the term “comic” is particularly inappropriate, unlike the more neutral French designation, bande dessinée. I haven’t yet seen a list of all the other artists being represented but I was very pleased to see a drawing by Enki Bilal being used to promote the event. Bilal was one of several French comic artists whose work I discovered in the pages of Heavy Metal/Metal Hurlant in the 1970s, and it was the example of the artists there that kept me interested enough in the comics medium to attempt something of my own a few years later. The exhibition will run until 30th October, 2017, and will feature a printed catalogue.

alice1.jpg

The second event, Alice’s Adventures in the Underground, has already been mentioned here, and takes place at the Horse Hospital, London, at the beginning of February:

“Feed your head…” An evening discourse on all things Wonderland, with John Coulthart, Andy Roberts, Nikki Wyrd and Jake Fior (facilitator).

This event marks the opening of a three day exhibition hosted by the Horse Hospital, featuring John Coulthart’s psychedelia-themed ‘Alice’ artwork, printed for the first time as (drug-free) blotter art. John’s depictions of the twelve chapters of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ view the 1860s through the iridescent lens of the 1960s; Victoriana refracted through a psychedelic prism. Come along for a discussion of the links between psychedelic art and music, and the persistent fascination of Lewis Carroll’s books. There will be talk of many things, not only cabbages and kings, but far more than you can possibly imagine before breakfast. Signed blotter prints will be on sale.

Psychedelic artists – particularly in the 60s – and many other outsider creative types (before and since that influential decade), have drawn their inspiration from the well of imagery found within the ‘Alice’ books. As well as John’s artwork, there will be Alice themed creations by other artists on show. In addition, the Psychedelic Museum will be holding its second pop-up museum display, with particular focus on the 60s counterculture.

alice2.jpg

This show came about after an offer from Paul at Blotter Art to produce a series of blotter prints from my psychedelic Alice series. The first set of sheets are shown here, and I’m very pleased with the print quality after having been a little worried that the paper might not reproduce the colour and detail to the best effect. As noted above, signed sheets will be on sale (either as singles or a series of 12) during the event and afterwards via the Blotter Art website. People often ask about signed prints but most of my print sales are through CafePress which doesn’t allow this; so here’s a rare opportunity to get something spoiled by my signature. In addition to my work there should be Alice-themed art by other artists filling out the space. This exhibition will run to 4th February. I’m looking forward to it.

alice3.jpg

Sorcerer: Druillet and Friedkin

sorcerer1.jpg

Earlier this week I finally got my hands on the recent Blu-ray reissue of William Friedkin’s Sorcerer (1977). Having only ever seen the film on the travesty of a DVD that appeared in 1998 I’m going to enjoy watching this at the weekend. Brits ought to know that (for now) the only edition available seems to be the US version although it is region-free, and if you buy from a UK film dealer on eBay you won’t get hit with import duties.

sorcerer2.jpg

Sorcerer designs by Philippe Druillet.

By coincidence, Sorcerer has a minor connection with Philippe Druillet, although his contribution was so minimal that there’s not even a mention of his name on the obsessively detailed Sorcerer film blog. If you’ve seen the film (or Henri-George Clouzot’s equally good earlier version, Wages of Fear), or even read George Arnaud’s novel, you’ll know that the crucial part of the story concerns a potentially suicidal expedition by four men in two trucks, each of which are carrying crates of nitroglycerine through hazardous terrain to the site of an oil-well fire. Friedkin and writer Walon Green expand the story without aping any of Clouzot’s set-pieces (something few directors today would resist), while Friedkin adds some details of his own, notably in the design of the trucks which have distinct “faces” and their own names—”Lazaro” and “Sorcerer”—hence the film’s title which also nods misleadingly to The Exorcist. The truck design was Druillet’s contribution although there’s very little of this apparent on-screen, understandably so when his sketches show fantastic designs that would have no place in the dishevelled jungle town where much of the film takes place. Later sketches by production designer John Box can be found at Wikipedia.

sorcerer3.jpg

Sorcerer designs by Philippe Druillet.

What interests me most about this connection is its being another example of the surreptitious influence of French comics on American cinema during the 70s and 80s. Moebius is the most obvious example of this but it’s also there in the influence of Métal Hurlant/Heavy Metal on the look of Blade Runner, and in Enki Bilal’s design of Molasar in Michael Mann’s The Keep. Since the 1980s we’ve seen a greater industrialisation of conceptual art for the cinema, as a result of which directors are less inclined to look outside Hollywood for their stylists. And now that the treadmill of superhero franchises is grinding away relentlessly, Continental comics and their creators are even less visible than before.

Probably the oddest thing about the Sorcerer/Druillet connection is that the commercial failure of the film in 1977 has often been laid at the door of Star Wars, the advent of George Lucas’s dismal saga being regarded, with some justification, as the opening of the gate to the barbarian hordes. (Friedkin’s film might also have fared better had it not been titled as though it were an Exorcist sequel.) The irony here is that George Lucas happened to be a big Druillet enthusiast, although there’s little evidence of this in his films; in addition to writing an appreciation for Les Univers de Druillet in 2003, he also commissioned Druillet to create a one-off piece of Star Wars art in the late 70s. Knowing this it’s tempting to imagine Lucas creating a very different kind of science-fiction film in 1977, one with some Continental weirdness at its core. But when the world has already been deprived of Jodorowsky’s Dune it’s best not to dwell too much on might-have-beens.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Ô Sidarta: a film about Philippe Druillet
Lovecraft: Démons et Merveilles
Heavy Metal, October 1979: the Lovecraft special
Philippe Druillet album covers
Druillet’s vampires
Salammbô illustrated
Druillet meets Hodgson

Weekend links 182

iwami.jpg

Mirror of Water (1981) by Reika Iwami.

• The week in comics: Paul Gravett interviews Enki Bilal. | Paul Kirchner’s wordless and inventively surreal strip, The Bus, was republished in France last year but it’s been out-of-print for years everywhere else. Read it online here. | Bill Watterson has made the entire run of Calvin and Hobbes available for free.

• “…seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.” Leland de la Durantaye reviews Italo Calvino: Letters 1941–1985.

• Artist Charles Ross says “My interest in science is related to how mysterious it is.” Ross Andersen visited Ross’s Star Axis, “a masterpiece forty years in the making”.

There is a satirical intent at work here, as well as mordant humour, a potent mix that reminds one more of the absurdist fictions of the French jazz musician Boris Vian than of anything in the SF canon. Science fiction is not central in Harrison’s work – not even as a target of his sharp wit – and it is a mistake to regard him as being chiefly interested in demolishing a genre that is only one of several he has mastered.

John Gray on M. John Harrison’s Kefahuchi Tract trilogy. This week Harrison posted a new piece of fiction on his blog.

• Mixes of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 091 by Sugai Ken, and Bride of the Abominable Marshman, an early Halloween mix by Hackneymarshman.

• Clive Hicks-Jenkins on Schandmasken (masks of shame), and the clay visage of Paul Wegener’s Golem.

• A version of Kraftwerk’s Trans Europe Express by Chicago band Disappears.

Postcards to the Curious: MR James-themed artwork by Alisdair Wood.

Clive Barker: Why I Once Gave Up Horror Movies Entirely.

• Artist Melinda Gebbie at Phantasmaphile.

Fragment, a new video from Emptyset.

38 photos of airships through the ages.

• This Much I Know: Kenneth Anger.

• Trans Europe Express (2000) by Señor Coconut Y Su Conjunto | Trans Europe Express (2007) by Receptors | Trans Europe Express (2012) by Daniel Mantey

Weekend links 99

moebius.jpg

From the Crystal Saga portfolio (1986) by Moebius. Via Quenched Consciousness.

Moebius: A while ago, [science fiction] was filled with monstrous rocket ships and planets; it was a naive and materialistic vision, which confused external space with internal space, which saw the future as an extrapolation of the present. It was a victim of an illusion of a technological sort, of a progression without stopping towards a consummation of energy. But we’ve completely changed that vision. It’s been a sharp, radical change, and somewhat brutal.
HM: Why brutal?
Moebius: Because all those beautiful projects we believed in are gone. But the real sense of science fiction is the discovery that the voyage is interior, and the real energy, the rockets of the past, is what is contained in people’s spirits.
HM: One doesn’t have to read other people’s visions then, one can make the discovery oneself?
Moebius: Well, that, and also the fact that the “new planet” of old science fiction is right here: it’s the Earth.

The Moebius Interview by Diana K. Bletter, Heavy Metal, August 1980.

RIP Jean Giraud, aka Moebius, one of the great artists of the 20th century. My approach to drawing comics was almost wholly derived from the illustrational style of the French, Belgian and other artists being published in Heavy Metal magazine in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Many of the stories were appearing in English for the first time, and for me they revitalised a medium in which (undergrounds aside) I’d lost all interest. It wasn’t only the exceptional artwork that was attractive. The narratives of Moebius, Druillet, Bilal and co. presented a more sophisticated approach to science fiction and fantasy than the simple-minded fare filling the superhero titles or the pages of 2000 AD. Moebius’s work was wittier, sexier and far more imaginative than any American comics I’d seen up to that time. Some of the stories read like graphic equivalents of New Worlds-era science fiction so it came as no surprise to find Moebius drawing a strip called The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius (the title was later amended at Moorcock’s request) while Druillet in his September 1980 Heavy Metal interview mentioned enjoying books by William Burroughs, Michael Moorcock and Thomas Disch, and singled-out Ballard’s Crash as a favourite novel. Without the examples of Druillet and Moebius (and the intoxicating inspiration of the October 1979 issue of Heavy Metal) I wouldn’t have spent 17 months adapting The Call of Cthulhu as a comic strip.

Hasko Baumann’s 2007 documentary, Moebius Redux: A Life in Pictures (some of which can be seen on YouTube) is a good place to start when trying to appraise Jean Giraud’s extensive career. The film is now available on DVD.

Update:
The hour-long cut of Moebius Redux has been posted to Vimeo
An obituary by Kim Thompson at The Comics Journal
The Moebius posts at But Does It Float

moebius2.jpg

From Les Yeux du Chat (1978) by Jodorowsky & Moebius. Via Quenched Consciousness.

• “Naked Lunch,” Ballard wrote later, “was a grenade tossed into the sherry party of English fiction.” The criss-crossing careers of JG Ballard and William Burroughs are examined in detail at RealityStudio. Related: The Discipline of D.E. (1982) by Gus Van Sant and The Unlimited Dream Company (1983) by Sam Scoggins.

• Dr John’s forthcoming album, Locked Down, has been produced by The Black Keys‘ Dan Auerbach. Those of us who favour the Doctor’s voodoo-inflected early albums are hoping this might mean he gets groove back after wandering for years in an MOR swamp. One of the new recordings, Revolution, sounds promising.

I don’t think sexuality is fixed anymore. I think more from the gay male side than the lesbian side, there is often a wish for things to be fixed. I heard Lady Gaga’s Born This Way and I don’t know why they like it. Maybe, they need more certainty than girls do. For me, it’s like why do you care anyway? Maybe you were, maybe you weren’t. What’s the big deal? I can’t connect to that emotionally, so it baffles me.

Jeanette Winterson talks to Sassafras Lowrey.

• “In [Jacob’s Room], [Virginia] Woolf makes the subject matter not Jacob himself but the ways in which we know and don’t know each other – the gaps in our knowledge.” Alexandra Harris on Modernism in art and literature.

• The Northwest Film Forum in Seattle hosts Magick in Cinema on 5th April, an evening of occult-themed short films which includes a rare screening of Curtis Harrington’s Wormwood Star.

• John Bertram’s Lolita cover competition from 2009 is due to appear in June as a book-length study entitled Recovering Lolita. Bertram previews the contents here.

• “Erotic fiction is having a steamy renaissance and its hottest authors are women.”

LSD helps to treat alcoholism.

• The other Moebius (Dieter): News (1980) by Moebius & Plank | Tollkühn (1981) by Moebius & Plank | Conditionierer (1981) by Moebius & Plank.