Who is Heeps Willard?


In which Christmas arrives two weeks early…

It was nearly two years ago that I wrote “We’re overdue a decent book-length examination of his work and his influence” at the end of the epic Barney Bubbles post. Today I finally got to sit down with a copy of Paul Gorman’s wonderful monograph about the man and his work; if only all wishes were fulfilled so swiftly and completely. This is a really excellent book but then I would say that (even without being mentioned within) seeing as I’m among the target audience. Gorman’s text is light but anecdote-rich which is what I would have preferred, leaving plenty of room for page after page of incredible visuals. The heavy design analysis can wait, for now what we’ve required was a book to set the record straight (as it were) and tip the balance in Barney’s favour after years of neglect. This is that book.


I’m actually knocked out more than I expected seeing so much first class work brought together in one place. Barney’s early work throws light on his later evolution while the later material—as BB collectors Rebecca and Mike have noted—contains many traces of his earlier obsessions. Add to that the pages of sketches (!) and layout drafts, some truly stunning late paintings, furniture designs—including the electric plug table which Rian Hughes mentioned—and you have an essential purchase.

It’s worth mentioning again that Paul generously let me run an extract featuring some exclusive pieces that didn’t make the final cut. Paul also has further page samples at his site. As to who Heeps Willard is…that would be telling. You’ll have to buy the book if you want to find out.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Reasons To Be Cheerful, part 3: A Barney Bubbles exclusive
More Barney Bubbles
Reasons To Be Cheerful, part 2
Reasons To Be Cheerful: the Barney Bubbles revival
Barney Bubbles: artist and designer

5 thoughts on “Who is Heeps Willard?”

  1. Im reading this at the moment too – and i have to agree, its great. I never realised he did so many famous album covers. The early Hawkwind covers will always be my favourites, however, the heady mix of imagery leaves me excited and breathless even today , 25 years after first encountering them. And perhaps, unlike some of the later covers, the music inside actually lives up to them.
    Bubbles was seriously underated. hope this brilliant book does something to change that.

  2. My copy arrived today and it is a truly breathtaking collection, it is clear to the reader that Paul Gorman’s work is very much a serious labour of love.

  3. If it wasn’t for the huge and very expensive Lovecraft art book also appearing this year, this would be my book of the year, without question. As it is they’ll have to share that accolade.

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