New things for July


Motorway City by Hawkwind, Flicknife Records single (1983).

This month’s issue of Record Collector magazine has a feature about Hawkwind which featured my Motorway City sleeve among its illustrations. It was odd seeing this again, being a single it doesn’t turn up so often and it has the distinction of being one of the oldest of my works in print. Although the single was released in 1983, the drawing was done in 1980 (I was 18 at the time) and it ended up with Dave Brock somehow.

The A-side is taken from the Zones album, which sports one of my more successful cover illustrations for the band, and the song is a Ballardian eulogy to driving on motorways at night. Despite their reputation for being a bunch of spaced-out hippies, Hawkwind were frequently drawn to the harder side of things (Lemmy used to shout “Die! Die!” at their tripping audience and was proud of freaking people out), and this song isn’t even science fiction, despite my flat futuristic cityscape in the background. Before he finished with the band for good, singer Robert Calvert wrote two songs based on JG Ballard books, High Rise and the punk- and Crash-derived thrash piece Death Trap, both on the PXR5 album from 1979. Motorway City was written around the same time and it’s a shame it didn’t have Death Trap on the B-side instead of yet another version of Master of the Universe. My drawing was done as black on white but the record company smartly (for once) reversed out the design which I always felt made it look a lot better, as well as fitting more with the night-driving theme.

Also this month, I’m in the process of reworking the website a bit which means making more prints of artwork available. I’ve started with some of the Lovecraft pictures, which is always the most popular stuff but I’ll gradually be working through everything and setting up PayPal facilities for other items. Many pictures and designs can already be had as prints at CafePress but that system is best for t-shirts and other goods, it lacks the personal touch which people often want from a signed print.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Hawkwind: They’re still feeling mean
Barney Bubbles: artist and designer

5 thoughts on “New things for July”

  1. What is the address of your cafépress shop ?
    I don’t know about prints but I did some postcards with them and found the printing good but the support itself a little flimsy. The Moo note cards are of a much better quality and I do hope they widen they range of formats.

  2. The CafePress shops are all at different URLs unfortunately, you have to go to an individual artwork page and look for the link on the left. I could gather them together into one location but they charge you for that option and the things as a whole don’t make enough to justify the cost. However, I’m rearranging my Oniomania “things for sale” page so it’s easier to see at a glance what’s available.

    Thanks for the tip about Moo, I’ll check that out.

  3. hi john… your cover for motorway city is outstanding. thank you for sharing it.

    i’m an admirer of the calvert-era hawkwind machine, and i was wondering if you know of any further connections between calvert and ballard? (besides the moorcock thread). it’s something i’d love to explore.

    cheers, simon.

  4. Oh, thanks Simon. Looks pretty crude to me now but it was the best I could do at the time and they actually used things a lot worse than this!

    Moorcock is the biggest Hawkwind connection as you say but Calvert–who fell out with Mike M eventually–seemed to have a magpie attitude to sf and so was borrowing bits from all over. There’s a whole book of his poetry (which I don’t have unfortunately), Centigrade 232, which may well contain more Ballard riffs. One I do recall appeared in the poem piece 10 Seconds of Forever on the Space Ritual album:

    “I thought of the vermilion deserts of Mars, the jewelled forests of Venus”

    which (to me) has always pointed to Vermilion Sands and the Crystal World, as well as older sf ideas of those planetary landscapes. A couple of his poems turned up in the paperback New Worlds Quarterly in the mid-Seventies.

    The Hawklords period circa 1978 is the one to examine. I should have mentioned above that High Rise and Death Trap also appear on the Hawklords Live album in very raw forms (Death Trap really does sound like punk thrash there) and this was the year they temporarily pushed the band away from its roots into a far more sophisticated take on “the future”. The Barney Bubbles-designed tour programme is very much in the New Worlds vein:

    Check out this passage:

    “Assembly Rooms. Staffed by car crash victims whose function is to generate new forms of social behaviour through the transformation of private into public fantasies. The institute is equipped to stimulate fantasies, that once rehearsed cause a chain reaction by suggesting further elaborations. The car doors are made up.”

    I’d forgotten about that (I have a copy of that programme but couldn’t find it when I was doing the epic Barney Bubbles post). Pretty much confirms the Death Trap / Crash connection. Credits are confused but I imagine Calvert had the lion’s share of input since Hawklords was “a concept” in the same manner as his solo projects.

    There’s an obsessive Calvert website here:

    If you do write anything about Calvert and Ballard, I’d love to see it.

  5. thanks john!

    i’ll certainly let you know when i do the piece… the calvert/ballard/moorcock/hawkwind connection is something i’ve been thinking about for a while.

    i know about that calvert site, it’s fantastic…it contains all of calvert’s poetry, by the way, including, i’m fairly sure, the stuff in the book you can’t find.

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