The art of Hannes Bok, 1914–1964


Altars of Patagonia (1946)

Like the huge cache of Virgil Finlay art that turned up at the Internet Archive a couple of years ago, the pictures here are from a two-volume collection made by an enthusiast gathering together yet more illustrations from the pulp magazines of the 1940s and 50s. Hannes Bok (real name Wayne Francis Woodard) wasn’t as prolific as Virgil Finlay, but the careers of the two men intersected in the pages of Weird Tales where they both used stipple shading to compensate for the poor reproduction of pulp paper. Bok’s work tended to be more stylised than Finlay’s, with a quirkiness that makes his art easy to spot once you’ve seen a few examples.


Boomerang (1947)

The two volumes contain a total of over 300 illustrations so any selection will only be a small sampling. Many of the drawings were new to me. The first volume is mostly work from magazines such as Weird Tales and the minor SF mags; the second includes book covers, calendar illustrations and other work. As with the Finlay collections, both volumes are available in a range of file formats which include cbz files, a format I prefer to pdf for browsing image-heavy documents. For more about cbr/cbz files, see the end of this post.


Cross of Mercrux (1942)


Daughter of Darkness (1941)


Dimensional Doors (1944)

Continue reading “The art of Hannes Bok, 1914–1964”

Do You Have The Force? Volume 2


Cosmic background by John Harris.

Three years have passed since the release of Do You Have The Force?, Jon Savage’s compilation of space disco and post-punk recordings. The collection proved popular enough to prompt a follow-up which arrived here last week. I enjoy Mr Savage’s curatorial instincts so a second dose was irresistible even though I already own more of the tracks on the new album than I do with the earlier collection.


Data 70 for the win. Dee D. Jackson opens the new collection with a pulsing paean to robot sex.

I was thinking recently that the value of the historical compilation album—those collections that contain previously released material—has been diminished considerably by the rise of the internet mix. Before Mixcloud et al the home-made cassette compilation was a youth-culture staple (I made lots of them) but cassette collections seldom travelled beyond their maker’s immediate circle of friends. Official compilations had the advantage of wide distribution, access to quality sources and scarce recordings. The better ones also featured authoritative sleevenotes, an essential thing where those scarce recordings where concerned. One of the drawbacks of the home-made tape was brought to my attention in the late 1980s when a Dutch friend sent me a mix he’d made for a group of acquaintances who staged live art/occult performances. The contents were a soup of dialogue and music recorded from TV layered over borrowings from record-library albums which included a particularly haunting snatch of something that he only remembered as being “music from Ancient Egypt”. I spent the next ten years searching for this whenever I was in a record shop with a decent international section. I did find it eventually (it’s the funeral music from this) but without persistence and a chance discovery I might never have known what it was. One thing we don’t lack today is information, so the chances of being nonplussed in this manner are much more remote. The erosion of the former strengths of the compilation album have only placed more emphasis on the person of the compiler; all those Back To Mine collections have turned out to be models for the future.


Do You Have The Force? Volume 2 follows the form of Savage’s earlier collection by starting out in the disco/dance zone before sliding in the second half into the post-punk world, an area conterminous with disco yet seen at the time as being in opposition to any rock and pop that was regarded as too commercial, too trivial, etc. I’ve never been someone who needed to reappraise disco, there was more than enough in its cosmic and futuristic excursions to engage my interest at its peak of popularity. Not being a club-goer, however, the good stuff wasn’t always easy to find so I’m still learning from collections such as these. The post-punk material is home territory by comparison. The contents of the new album include yet more Cabaret Voltaire (I’d probably have chosen the uptempo Sluggin’ Fer Jesus instead of Red Mask), the beatless Beachy Head by Throbbing Gristle (the closest TG get to Eno’s On Land), and Monochrome Days by Thomas Lear & Robert Rental. The latter is from Lear & Rental’s The Bridge, a one-off collaboration released on Throbbing Gristle’s Industrial Records, and a cult album round these parts. If you’re familiar with Savage’s tastes, all the above are the kinds of inclusions you’d expect. Less predictable was another number from Fourth Wall, the second album by The Flying Lizards, which follows the Fourth Wall track that Savage included on Volume 1. I bought Fourth Wall when it was released in 1981, in part because Robert Fripp was credited among the players and I was curious to know what Fripp was doing with such an eccentric bunch. (This, if you’re equally curious.) David Cunningham’s Lizards are best known for their off-beat cover versions, the most popular of which, Money, was a surprise chart success in 1979. But Cunningham was (and still is) an experimental musician, and Fourth Wall showed much more of this side of his group, juxtaposing short looped pieces and other weirdness with a handful of original songs. Patti Palladin does most of the singing, also co-writing a huge favourite of mine, Hands 2 Take, that (once again) I would have chosen over Savage’s selections even though it’s not electronic enough for the album as a whole. But that’s one of the benefits of the compilation: it compels you to follow somebody else’s inclinations instead of your own. Biggest surprise of all has been Soft Space on the disco side, an electronic instrumental credited to Soft Machine. If you’re familiar with Soft Machine’s early albums, which evolved from psychedelic pop in the late 1960s to jazz-rock improvisation in the 1970s, then nothing prepares you for this piece, a one-off synthesizer composition recorded in 1978 by keyboard player Karl Jenkins. And that’s another benefit of the compilation album: an introduction to discographic anomalies that you’ve been missing all these years.

Will there now be a third volume? There’s more than enough musical material for another collection along the same lines so we’ll have to wait and see. Volume 2 is out now on Caroline True Records.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Talking time: Cabaret Voltaire interviews
Do You Have The Force?

Weekend links 730


Cover Design for ‘The Yellow Book’ Vol.I (1894) by Aubrey Beardsley.

• “[Dorian Gray’s] version of Decadence filled the popular imagination when Decadence became an ostentatiously stylish zeitgeist—stylish being the operative word. For Decadent style encapsulated the attitude of being hellbent on thrilling experiences.” The danger of Decadence is also its value. We need more of it, says Kate Hext.

• At Swan River Press: Of Wraiths, Spooks and Spectres. Robert Lloyd Parry, in an interview with John Kenny, talks about the researches that led to the compiling of his latest ghost-story collection, Friends and Spectres.

• The latest pictorial accumulation from DJ Food is a collection of late-60s concert posters by Jim Michaelson, an artist whose designs look like Mad magazine going fully psychedelic.

• Old music: Future Travel by David Rosenboom; new music: Taking Shasta Mountain (By Strategy) by John Von Seggern & Dean DeBenedictis.

• At Public Domain Review: Hunter Dukes on Rückenfiguren, views of the human back as a subject in the history of art.

• In a week when Adobe has been in the news for pissing off its users, a list of alternatives for Adobe software.

• At Spoon & Tamago: Hokusai-inspired erasers reveal Mt. Fuji the more they get used.

• At Unquiet Things: A celebration of Annie Stegg Gerard’s enchanting worlds.

• Mix of the week: DreamScenes – June 2024 by Ambientblog.

• At The Quietus: The Strange World of…Diamanda Galás.

Wraith (2002) by Redshift | El Wraith (2002) by Amon Tobin | Wraith (2015) by John Carpenter

Mona Lisa, Enigma, Breathing


Breathing (1980).

Three short films by Toshio Matsumoto, a director best known for his debut feature Funeral Parade of Roses (1969). Matsumoto made many more short film than he did long ones, four of which were featured here a few years ago. His films of the 1970s are replete with vivid colours, rapid edits, processed visuals and electronic soundtracks. The first two films in the trio follow this form.

Mona Lisa (1973)


The world’s most famous painting provides a stage for a succession of effects created with the Scanimate video synthesizer. No credit for the electronic score.

Enigma (1978)


More Scanimate effects only this time the results are very abstract, a series of spheres and vortices. Again, no credit for the electronic score.

Breathing (1980)


At 25 minutes, the longest and most fascinating of the three films. Breathing also employs video effects but very minimally applied, being a meditation on the “breathing” of the natural world seen in three separate sections that show clouds drifting over mountains, trees moving in the wind and waves breaking against a shore. Each section also features an appearance by dancer Hiroko Horiuchi who strikes a succession of wraithlike poses. Watching this one I was continually distracted by the remarkable soundtrack. “This sounds like the music from Kwaidan,” I thought, and sure enough, the music is credited to Toru Takemitsu, composer of the score for Masaki Kobayashi’s ghost film. Is this original music or did Matsumoto simply lift sections of the soundtrack from the earlier film? I can’t say, but the music combined with the presence of the sinister dancing woman, who might be a cousin of Kobayashi’s lethal Woman of the Snow, is enough to make the whole film seem like an excised episode from the Kwaidan suite.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Phantom, a film by Toshio Matsumoto
White Hole, a film by Toshio Matsumoto
Atman, a film by Toshio Matsumoto
Metastasis, a film by Toshio Matsumoto

Friends and Spectres


Presenting my latest cover illustration for Swan River Press, and another story collection edited by Robert Lloyd Parry:

Friends and Spectres is a companion volume to Ghosts of the Chit-Chat (2020), an anthology of ghost stories by authors who had been members of the Cambridge University Chit-Chat Club along with M. R. James. Here the associations with MRJ are less formal, but stronger and more enduring: for it is the bond of genuine friendship that ties these writers to him.

The majority of pieces here were originally published under pseudonyms, and over half appeared first in amateur magazines or local newspapers. All deal with the supernatural, and several of the stories are themselves spectres—or more properly “revenants”, only now re-emerging into the light after decades of oblivion. There are rediscoveries here of “lost” tales by Arthur Reed Ropes, E. G. Swain, and the enigmatic “B.”

My cover for the earlier volume showed an imaginary interior for one of the meetings of the Chit-Chat Club where James first read his own ghost stories. The new cover shows a more accurate exterior view of the grounds outside the King’s College Chapel. Given the quantity of pictorial reference I thought this might be relatively easy to do but I had a problem finding a view that matched the one I had in mind, a twilight view of the west end of the chapel seen front-on rather than at a sharp angle. Views of the chapel from the banks of the river have been standing as an emblem of the university itself for a very long time but the majority of these are angled views. My solution was to work from a collage of three different reference photos in order to have enough drawing to fill out the spread of the jacket.


Friends and Spectres is another of Swan River’s small hardbacks which in this case is limited to 500 copies. Given the following that Mr Parry has accumulated via his readings of James’ stories I imagine this one will go quickly, so anyone interested is advised to pre-order now.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Ghosts of the Chit-Chat