Edward Whittemore

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A decade after his death, with all his books back in print, Edward Whittemore remains pretty much off the literary radar.

Whittemore was an ex-CIA agent who made the people, history and landscapes of the Middle East the subject matter of a series of remarkable novels. His books aren’t always fantasy (although they were often marketed as such) yet they contain fantastical elements; they’re frequently comic yet contain moments of pure horror; they’re witty, sexy, incredibly inventive and quite unique. They also provide another example of genre readers and writers nurturing the memory and reputation of an author the wider literary world has never heard of. Michael Moorcock and Jeff VanderMeer have both spoken highly of Whittemore in recent years and with the republication of his books in 2002 he now has access to a new generation of readers.

Anne Sydenham’s Whittemore site, Jerusalem Dreaming, has just moved to a new location and is an excellent source of information about the man and his work.

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.

Continue reading “Barney Bubbles: artist and designer”

An announcement redux

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The 2006 Jack Trevor Story Grand Prix was decided on Friday afternoon at L’Horizon, rue St Placide in Paris. The sans precedent prize can be seen above. After much deliberation the judges decided that Mr Steve Aylett was a worthy recipient of this most ingenuous of literary awards. Mr Aylett now has to spend the prize money within two weeks of its receipt and have nothing to show for it at the end of those two weeks.

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In attendance (l to r): Mr Jeff VanderMeer, Mr John Coulthart, Mr Michael Moorcock, Mr Neil Williamson and Ms Emma Taylor. Behind the camera, Mr Eric Schaller who may be seen below on the left.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
An announcement

An announcement

JTS.jpgThe international committee to choose the winner of the Jack Trevor Story Memorial Cup has at last been selected. The jury consists of Mr John Coulthart (UK), M. Jean-Luc Fromental (France), Mr Michael Moorcock (UK), Mr Martin Stone (France) and Mr Jeff VanderMeer (USA) who will meet to confer in the course of the following days. The winner will be announced after a traditional final meeting at a well-known brasserie in Paris by the end of July. This prize is not given every year. It is generally awarded for a work of fiction or body of work which, in the opinion of the committee, best celebrates the spirit of Jack Trevor Story, who died in 1992. As well as for his journalism, much of it published in The Guardian newspaper, Mr Story was known for such humorous novels as The Trouble With Harry (filmed by Alfred Hitchcock) and the Live Now, Pay Later trilogy featuring the ‘tally man’ Albert Argyll (played by Ian Carmichael). As well as the traditional cup, a cash prize is awarded. The conditions of the prize are that the money shall be spent in a week to a fortnight and the author have nothing to show for it at the end of that time. This is to recall Mr Story’s famous reply to the bankruptcy judge who enquired where a substantial sum of money paid to him for film rights had gone ? “You know how it is, judge. Two hundred or two thousand, it always lasts a week to a fortnight.’