Weekend links 215

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Julian House artwork for Other Voices, a new singles series on the Ghost Box label. Other Voices 01 is a collaboration between Sean O’Hagan of the High Llamas and Jon Brooks of The Advisory Circle.

Last week I linked to a copy Zadie Smith’s new introduction for Crash by JG Ballard. That piece could only be read in full by NYRB subscribers but this week the Guardian has the full text:

I was in college when the Daily Mail went to war with [David Cronenberg’s] movie, and found myself unpleasantly aligned with the censors, my own faux-feminism existing in a Venn diagram with their righteous indignation. We were both wrong: Crash is not about humiliating the disabled or debasing women, and in fact the Mail‘s campaign is a chilling lesson in how a superficial manipulation of liberal identity politics can be used to silence a genuinely protesting voice, one that is trying to speak for us all.

Related: Thomas Jones in 2008 reviewing Miracles of Life:

Despite all the bodily fluids spurted and smeared onto wrecked dashboards, the problem isn’t that it’s too pornographic but that it isn’t pornographic enough: the novel is too conscious of the deeper meaning of the sex and violence for the sex and violence to work as elements in themselves.

The fetishisation of Ballard’s novel (and Ballard’s fetishes) show no signs of abating: B-Movie (Ballardian Video Neuronica), is a short film by John Foxx, Karborn and Jonathan Barnbrook.

• Last Thursday I was watching a live performance by Pye Corner Audio and Not Waving, so it’s good to find this mix by the pair surfacing in the same week. Kudos to the latter for choosing something by Chrome. More mixes: FACT mix 468 by Throwing Snow, and Secret Thirteen mix 120 by Drøp.

• Ellen Datlow’s horror anthology, Lovecraft’s Monsters, continues to gather plaudits. Among recent reviews there’s Matt Barone at Complex who included the book in his Year’s Best Genre Fiction Books (So Far) list, and also praised my illustrations.

In recent years, many of the people on book covers have been women without faces. So prevalent is this visual cliché that the publishing industry has cycled through at least two well-documented iterations. The first, the Headless Woman, features some poor thing cut off above the neck, like the swimsuit-clad beachgoer on Alice Munro’s story collection “The View from Castle Rock.” The website Goodreads’s Headless Women page has 416 entries. Last year, the Headless Woman was supplanted by the Sexy Back, in which a woman is shown from behind, often gazing out over a vista.

Eugenia Williamson on the packaging of books for a female readership.

• The latest Taschen volume from Dian Hanson, editor of (among other titles) The Big Penis Book, is My Buddy. World War II Laid Bare, featuring photos from the archives of Michael Stokes. World of Wonder has pages from the interior.

I Have Walked This Body by Jenny Hval and Susanna is a track from a forthcoming album inspired by Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid’s Meshes of the Afternoon. It sounds fantastic so I’m looking forward to hearing more.

• If you have a spare half-million dollars, and don’t mind the possibility of possession by murderous supernatural entities, the Palmer house from Twin Peaks is for sale.

• Read an extract from Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll by Peter Bebergal.

The Stars and Their Courses: over six hours of the Nevada night sky in 4k definition.

Lee Siegel on the fraught friendship of TS Eliot and Groucho Marx.

Harmony Korine talked to Kenneth Anger for Interview Magazine.

New Scientist: How magic mushrooms induce a dream-like state.

• 3D-print your own Marcel Duchamp chess set.

Scott O)))

Crash (1980) by Tuxedomoon | Burning Car (1980) by John Foxx | A Crash At Every Speed (1994) by Disco Inferno | Burning Car (Dubterror Remix, 2008) by John Foxx

Weekend links 126

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Mala Reputación (1991) by Dogo Y Los Mercenarios. Cover art by Nazario Luque.

Artist Nazario Luque was Spain’s first gay comic artist who’s also known for the drawing which appeared (without permission) on the sleeve of Lou Reed Live – Take No Prisoners in 1978. On his website Nazario says he’s been described as “Exhibicionista, solidario, provocador, agitador moral, rompedor, arriesgado, polifacético, transgresor, canalla, pintiparado, morigerado o simplemente superviviente…” Via Música, maestros, a two-part post (second part is here) about album cover art by comic artists.

The BBC Radiophonic Workshop Returns. And quite conveniently, Ubuweb posts some original Radiophonic creations by electronic music genius Delia Derbyshire. Ms Derbyshire is profiled along with her other pioneering colleagues in an hour-long TV documentary, Alchemists of Sound.

• Tor.com celebrates the fiction of Shirley Jackson. Too Much Horror Fiction has a substantial collection of Shirley Jackson book covers.

Phantasmagorical and all but plotless, Nightwood flings itself madly upon the night, upon Wood, and upon the reader. Its sentences pomp along like palanquins and writhe like crucifixions. They puke, they sing. Their deliriums are frighteningly controlled. […] TS Eliot loved Nightwood so much that he shepherded its publication and wrote the introduction to the first edition. Dylan Thomas complimented it with his left hand by calling it “one of the three great prose books ever written by a woman” and with his right hand by stealing from it. […] Nightwood’s Dr. Matthew-Mighty-grain-of-salt-Dante O’Connor, florid monologist and transvestite, seems to have been a model (along with Captain Ahab) for Judge Holden in Blood Meridian. The difference is that Cormac McCarthy’s Judge is essentially Satan, whereas O’Connor is essentially Christ; they’re only just on opposite sides of the border of madness.

Austin Allen on The Life and Death of Djuna Barnes, Gonzo “Greta Garbo of American Letters”. There’s a lot more Djuna Barnes at Strange Flowers.

• Out at the end of the month, Extreme Metaphors, interviews with JG Ballard, 1967–2008, edited by Simon Sellars & Dan O’Hara.

• The favourite Polish posters of the Brothers Quay. Over at Cardboard Cutout Sundown there are more Quay book covers.

The Mancorialist: people on the streets of Manchester are given the Sartorialist treatment.

The Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia takes place on 29th September.

The Caves of Nottingham are explored in a detailed post at BLDGBLOG.

• In Remembrance: Bill Brent, Groundbreaking Queer Sex Publisher.

Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie

The Uranus Music Prize 2012

Fuck Yeah René Lalique

Dr Who: original theme (1963) by Ron Grainer with Delia Derbyshire | Falling (1964) by Delia Derbyshire | The Delian Mode (1968) by Delia Derbyshire | Blue Veils And Golden Sands (1968) by Delia Derbyshire.

James Joyce in Reverbstorm

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A post for Bloomsday with a handful of the many and varied appearances of James Joyce in the forthcoming Reverbstorm book. Ulysses was published ninety years ago this year. Among the usual commemorations BBC Radio 4 will be dramatising the entire novel throughout the day.

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But as before the lightning the serried stormclouds, heavy with preponderant excess of moisture, in swollen masses turgidly distended, compass earth and sky in one vast slumber, impending above parched field and drowsy oxen and blighted growth of shrub and verdure till in an instant a flash rives their centres and with the reverberation of the thunder the cloudburst pours its torrent, so and not otherwise was the transformation, violent and instantaneous, upon the utterance of the word.

James Joyce, Ulysses (1922)

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Prison and place and reverberation
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
He who was living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience

TS Eliot, The Waste Land (1922)

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Continue reading “James Joyce in Reverbstorm”

Reverbstorm: an introduction and preview

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Reverbstorm: 1994–2012.

Art, intellectual pursuits, the development of the natural sciences, many branches of scholarship flourished in close spacial, temporal proximity to massacre and the death camps. It is the structure and meaning of that proximity that must be looked at. […] But there is a […] danger. Not only is the relevant material vast and intractable: it exercises a subtle, corrupting fascination. Bending too fixedly over hideousness, one feels queerly drawn. In some strange way the horror flatters attention, it gives to one’s own limited means a spurious resonance. […] I am not sure whether anyone, however scrupulous, who spends time and imaginative resources on these dark places, can, or indeed, ought to leave them personally intact. Yet the dark places are at the centre. Pass them by and there can be no serious discussion of human potential.

George Steiner, In Bluebeard’s Castle: Some Notes Towards the Re-definition of Culture (1971)

Reverbstorm is an eight-part comic series which I began drawing in 1990. Last week I finished work on the final section, and also completed the layout and design for the collected edition, a 344-page volume which Savoy Books will be publishing later this year. All the artwork has been scanned afresh, re-lettered and, in a few places, improved to fix compromises and print errors present in the published issues. This unfinished project has been hanging over me for so long that I make this announcement with some relief. The book will be published without a foreword so this post can serve as an introduction for the uninitiated. But before I get to the details, some history.

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David Britton was the writer and instigator of Reverbstorm, the series being a continued exploration in the comics medium of his Lord Horror character. Lord Horror is an alternate-history equivalent of the real-life William Joyce, a member of the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s whose propaganda broadcasts to Britain from Nazi Germany during the Second World War led the press to dub him Lord Haw-Haw. The first five-part Lord Horror comic series, Hard Core Horror, showed the evolution of Horace William Joyce, aka Lord Horror, from charismatic politician to Nazi collaborator; the final two issues of the series concerned Horror’s involvement in the Holocaust. In Britton’s mythos James Joyce is the brother of Horace Joyce while Jessie Matthews, a popular British musical star of the 1930s, is Lord Horror’s wife. (Britton’s Lord Horror novels are examined in detail by Keith Seward in his Horror Panegyric essay.) My fellow artist at Savoy, Kris Guidio, drew the first four issues of Hard Core Horror; I drew issue five which was less a comic story, more a portfolio of static scenes of death-camp architecture. The series was well-received by regular Savoy readers but mostly ignored by the British comics world, with some justification: the comics were a glossy production but the narrative was very erratic, even technically inept in places. At Savoy the series was regarded as a failed experiment, Kris’s drawing style and flair for cartooning being more suited to the broad humour of the Meng & Ecker strips. But Dave liked what I’d done with the final issue and felt we could try something new that was also more original than a fictional skate through recent history.

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In addition to producing comics in the late 1980s, Savoy had been recording a number of eccentric cover versions, most of them sung by PJ Proby. A music journalist, Paul Temple, came to interview Proby about the songs and stayed in touch. He subsequently approached the company with a song of his own entitled Reverbstorm, a bombastic number best described as “Wagnerian Northern Soul” which Savoy recorded in 1993. (Temple recounts the origin of the song here.) This gave a title to the new comic series that Dave was planning, the story outline being expanded from a scenario that he and Savoy colleague Michael Butterworth had sketched out when a film company showed some fleeting interest in Lord Horror. Kris Guidio and I worked on the opening pages, the initial idea being that Kris would continue drawing the Lord while I would do everything else. Once I’d convinced Dave that I could draw his Lordship to his satisfaction I took over the series while Kris carried on with the Meng & Ecker comics. I spent most of 1991–1996 drawing the first seven parts of Reverbstorm which were published as separate comics during that period. The first issue came with a CD single of Paul Temple’s song which was sung by Sue Quinn but credited to Jessie Matthews. (It’s now available on iTunes.) The last part of the series was always going to be something that differed from the preceding sections but I didn’t know how this might manifest until 1997 when I painted a series of monochrome double-spreads intended to form backgrounds for Dave’s text. That’s where the series stalled after the paintings had improvised themselves to such a degree of abstraction and incoherence that I didn’t feel able to continue. The breakthrough came a couple of years ago when I started scanning all the artwork into the computer and thinking again about the series. I realised I could complete everything now that my computer graphics skills were adequate enough to complement the earlier issues whilst also adding something new.

Continue reading “Reverbstorm: an introduction and preview”