Four short films by Vince Collins


The expressions “psychedelic” and “surreal” are often so casually applied that they lose any useful definition, but in the case of these early films by American animator Vince Collins “psychedelic surrealism” is an accurate description. All have somehow managed to evade my weirdness radar until now, despite being superior examples of the endlessly mutating dream-landscape which animation can do so well. The last of them, Malice in Wonderland, is a breathless run through Lewis Carroll scenarios which Collins made in collaboration with his wife, Miwako Collins. That punning title has been overused in the music world but the pair ought to be given sole ownership of it, their bad-trip film is the most grotesquely nightmarish reworking of Alice themes that I’ve seen.

Vince Collins’ YouTube channel contains many more recent works done with computer animation. The hand-drawn films are more to my taste but it’s good to see him still being active and creative.


Gilgamish (1973).


Euphoria (1974).


Fantasy (1976).


Malice in Wonderland (1982). (Or avoid YouTube’s adults-only policy by going here.)

Previously on { feuilleton }
The groovy video look

The Atropine Tree


My latest piece of cover art is for Doug Murano’s new imprint, Bad Hand Books. I designed the cover for the Behold! collection that Doug edited a few years ago, a book which included the author of the present tale of Gothic horror, Sarah Read:

Aldane Manor is an ancient home of low-beamed ceilings, crumbling walls, poison gardens, and deadly secrets. When Alrick Aldane returns to his family’s house, he expects to simply inherit his father’s land and title. Instead, he discovers that he is also heir to the property’s disturbing history—one full of witchcraft—and a ghostly mystery that could condemn him to a fate worse than death.

The cover for this one had a specific brief which required a family tree presented as two flowering stalks of Atropa belladonna or Deadly Nightshade, with both stalks growing out of a blue-glass poison bottle. Other details follow from the author’s mood board samples: hollow-eyed ghost children and loops of hair. The medical tone of these elements sent me looking at old pharmacy labels which is what I’ve used as a basis for the general design. Old pharmacy labels and medical documents were often just as fancy as any other 19th-century print designs so all the fine details around the title lettering are what printers referred to as “combination ornaments”, tiny typographic embellishments that form detailed patterns when pieced together. The ones seen here have been copied by hand from an old page design. You can scan these things from books, or try working up a vector shape from an Internet Archive scan, but the results are never as sharp or as clear as those you create yourself. For anyone who runs across this post hoping to find a good collection of combination ornaments, the MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan type catalogue of 1892 is a favourite of mine.

The Atropine Tree will be published in July 2024.

Previously on { feuilleton }
BEHOLD! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders

Weekend links 725

Springtime in Paris (1923) by Georg Kretzschmar.

• I’ve been asked to mention that the tribute book put together for Alan Moore’s 70th birthday, Alan Moore: Portraits of an Extraordinary Gentleman, is still available. As before, the book features contributions from many well-known comic artists, a foreword by Iain Sinclair, and this piece of my own.

• “I never posted any lecture of mine on Tumblr, even though Tumblr would seem to have plenty of elbow-room for hour-long, learned, European public lectures (with many lecture slides).” Utopian Realism, a speech by Bruce Sterling.

• Reading the Signs: John Kenny in conversation with Mark Valentine about Mark’s new collection Lost Estates.

There remains something suspect about blotter, a stain that is both a blessing and a curse. As the blotter producer Matthew Rick, who started selling sheets as non-dipped ‘art’ collectables at festivals in 1998, puts it: ‘[B]lotter is the last underground art form that’s going to stay underground, simply because you’re creating something that looks like and functions like a felony.’ In other words, blotter is ontologically illicit; it is, as Rick says, ‘drug paraphernalia by its very existence’.

Erik Davis (again) on LSD and the cultural history of the printed blotter

• At Colossal: Uncanny phenomena derail domestic bliss in Marisa Adesman’s luminous paintings.

• Standing stones, urban hellscapes and male nudes: Andrew Pulver on Derek Jarman’s Super-8 films.

• “ [breaking news] An anomaly on earth has brought the cats to over 150 meters. Please be patient.”

• At We Are The Mutants: Alien Renaissance: An interview with illustrator Bob Fowke.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…René Crevel My Body and I (1926).

• At Public Domain Review: The Little Journal of Rejects (1896).

• Steven Heller’s font of the month is Sandhouse.

• RIP Steve Albini.

Sandoz In The Rain (1970) by Amon Düül II | Bon Voyage Au LSD (2001) by Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. | Careful With That Sheet Of Acid, Eugene (2019) by Jenzeits

The Debutante, a film by Elizabeth Hobbs


The Debutante is an 8-minute animated adaptation of a short story by Leonora Carrington, a tale of bestial havoc wreaked by a hyena on an aristocratic dinner-dance. This wish-fulfilling fantasy, which Carrington wrote in the 1930s, is one of the author’s more popular pieces of fiction. The story has been anthologised many times, notably by Angela Carter in 1986 who included it in Wayward Girls & Wicked Women: An Anthology of Stories. Elizabeth Hobbs illustrates the piece with hand-painted rotoscoping, a technique which many people will associate with the Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds sequence in Yellow Submarine although this is by no means the earliest or only example of the form. It’s a useful process for stories which require the blending of the fantastic with the mundane.


Another hyena encountering the English aristocracy may be found in Esmé by Saki, the first story in his essential Chronicles of Clovis collection. Saki shared Leonora Carrington’s anarchic impulses when presented with ennervating upper-class rituals. Enough of his stories feature wild animals and eruptions of chaos in country houses that I wonder whether there was any Saki influence upon The Debutante. I’d guess not—Leonora Carrington possessed more than enough wayward imagination of her own—but whatever the answer, Saki remained fascinated (or appalled) by the aristocracy and their absurdities, while Leonora followed her debutante heroine to a welcome exile from their world.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Leonora Carrington’s Surrealist survival kit
Leonora Carrington and the House of Fear

Symmetry, a film by Philip Stapp


Symmetry (1966) is a PIF (public information film) by Philip Stapp (1908–2003), an American animator who made a number of other films in this vein while also working on group projects like the Halas and Batchelor adaptation of Animal Farm. Orson Welles used to compare actors to cherry pickers: they all follow the harvest. The same might be said about animators, many of whom have to work on advertising films instead of any personal projects they may be nurturing. PIFs would seem to offer more creative freedom to judge by this example which wordlessly demonstrates different types of symmetry using animated figures. Stapp animated the film with Jean Williams. The music was by Gene Forrell.