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Tijuana Bibles: Cheap, nasty, porno comic books featuring Mickey, Donald, Popeye, & more (Very NSFW)
06.06.2017
10:24 am
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Tijuana Bibles were eight-page, hand-sized comic books featuring well-known cartoon characters, sporting heroes, and Hollywood film stars in a sequence of hardcore sexual shenanigans. They first appeared sometime in the 1920s as illustrated dirty jokes featuring squeaky clean comic strip characters like Tillie the Toiler and Jiggs and Maggie from “Bringing Up Baby.” The more straightlaced the character, the more outrageous the smut.

Their instant success led to far more explicit hardcore tales featuring famous movie stars like Mae West, Robert Mitchum, Dorothy Lamour, Greta Garbo, even Laurel & Hardy, alongside such well-loved cartoon figures as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Popeye and Betty Boop porking the fuck out of everything that moved. They were cheap titillation intended to arouse and (in their own way) educate the virginal. They were subversive and offensively humorous.

The name “Tijuana Bible” came from the mistaken belief these comics were produced south of the border and smuggled into the USA. They were actually produced and printed in the States by local artists and independent businesses who hid behind fake publishing titles like “London Press” and “Tobasco Publishing Co.” They were sold under-the-counter in tobacco shops, bars, barbers and bowling alleys at 25 cents a pop. Their greatest popularity was during the Depression of the 1930s, eventually petering out with the arrival of real porn mags in the 1950s. Tijuana Bibles are now considered by many comic book historians to be among the very first underground comix. More importantly, these cheaply produced comic books helped unfetter sex and sexuality from the weight of societal and religious strictures of guilt and taboo by making sex seem fun, natural, and something to be greatly enjoyed.

A man called Quinn has scanned a whole selection of these “politically incorrect literary gems” which can be viewed here.
 
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More examples of Tijuana Bibles, after the jump..

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.06.2017
10:24 am
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Skeletal remains: The first accurate representation of ‘The Anatomy of Bones’ from 1733
06.05.2017
10:43 am
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Bones. This is what we come to once we’re dead and the soft tissue has gone. Bones. The sturdy architecture that shapes and protects our bodies. Most of us will end up as dust or ashes, or if very, very lucky, may one day become fossilized and exhibited in a museum as an example of a dumb 21st-century Homosapien. There’s nothing else once we’re dead. No seventy-two virgins (or is it dried fruit?), no Alleluia chorus, no wings and no harp, just the remnants of a structure that once held us together.

Humans are born with 270 bones which gradually fuse during childhood to become the 206 individual bones of adulthood. Bones are damned amazing things. They are tough, flexible, and protective. They are made of a composite of materials including collagen fibers and calcium phosphate. In 1733, William Cheselden (1688-1752) published his Osteographia or The Anatomy of Bones—a lavish and beautifully illustrated book of human and comparative osteology. It was the first fully accurate description of the human skeletal system. Cheselden was already renowned for his previous volume The Anatomy of the Human Body (1713) and now hoped to do for bones what he had done for the flesh.

Cheselden was a surgeon and teacher based in London. He was appointed surgeon at St Thomas’ Hospital in 1720 and then at St George’s Hospital in 1733. His specialty was in the removal of bladder stones, though he later became far better known for his work in eye surgery, especially the removal of cataracts. He was also surgeon to Queen Caroline. As a teacher, Cheselden wanted to share as much of his medical knowledge and experience as possible.

For the Osteographia, Cheselden employed two artists, Gerard Vandergucht and Jacob Schijnvoet, to illustrate the anatomy of bones. To ensure accuracy in the illustrations, Cheselden made use of a camera obscura which transposed the image of each bone onto paper for the artists to copy. However, many of the skeletons were presented in strange so-called realistic positions—for example the skeleton of a cat arching its back at the sight of an approaching dog, or a man kneeling down praying. This was achieved by wiring the skeletons into position, which more often than not detracted from any attempt at factual representation. Thus the book proved to be a failure, though today Cheselden’s Osteographia is considered one of the great historical works of art and science.

Those with an interest can view the whole book here.
 
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More of dem bones, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.05.2017
10:43 am
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The strange allure of PAN Books: Vintage cult film, TV tie-in and fab fiction book covers
05.31.2017
11:30 am
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Shelflife. The books you keep tell the story of your own life.

Clearing out boxes of books and personal belongings of lives once lived, I unpacked a whole bookshelf’s worth of Pan paperbacks neatly stored by their author and genre. I could recall the where and when of each book’s purchase and first reading, and of the best could well remember their stories back to front. There were a few of the books I read before age thirteen or so when I had a passion for picking up movie tie-in books and novels that had made thrilling and sometimes controversial films. These were bought new, most secondhand. Some were chosen solely because a favorite actor had starred in the film and was featured on the cover (the usual suspects of Oliver Reed, Peter Cushing, Sean Connery, and Michael Caine), or because they were dark tales of nightmarish horror or strange speculative science-fiction. No matter the reason, these books were keys to new worlds and passions.

Everyone knows Penguin. They publish classic lit and high-end middle-class novels about those things people discuss over lattes. Pan books were thrillers, pulp novels, movie and TV tie-ins, romances, some classics (Bronte, Trollope, Dickens), and best of all the dare to read alone horrors. Everyone read Pan. Because Pan books were always a guaranteed great read.

After Enid Blyton, Capt. W. E. Johns and Geoffrey Willans, the author I probably read most, until I got hip to Ian Fleming, Ted Lewis, and Algernon Blackwood, was probably John Burke. He was the guy who wrote all the big movie tie-ins like A Hard Day’s Night, The System, and the fine set of stories that started me off seeking out his books The Hammer Horror Omnibus with its tales of The Gorgon, The Revenge of Frankenstein and The Curse from the Mummy’s Tomb.

Pan Books was started by a former World War One flying ace, Alan Bott in 1944. Bott believed in enjoyable reads available for all. He focussed on paperback books the public would enjoy which might bring them back to the brand for more. Pan had an impressive roster of authors. It ranged from Agatha Christie to Leslie Charteris, Edgar Wallace to Jack Kerouac, Anthony Burgess to Nell Dunn, and so on. If it was a good and entertaining read then any author could end up inside of a Pan cover—which is not a bad quality control.

There are too many classic Pan covers to share, so I stuck with the ones from the box I had opened, which will probably tell you enough about me…
 
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More Pan covers for Kerouac, Burgess, Fleming and more, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.31.2017
11:30 am
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Immerse yourself in the very strange world of wonderfully weird (and rare) records
05.31.2017
09:02 am
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Feel the Music
 
For decades, Paul Major has been collecting and selling the strangest records ever pressed on vinyl. Much of what was initially known about many a wonderfully weird LP was due to his mail order catalogs, in which he described the obscure garage rock, psych, and often beyond-classification albums he had for sale. He’s tracked down many of the outsiders who made singularly great, private (a/k/a vanity) pressings, leading to authorized reissues.

Anthology Editions has just released Feel The Music: The Psychedelic Worlds Of Paul Major. The book contains images from his ‘zine-like catalogs, vintage flyers, photos, as well as album art and his assessments of those way-offbeat LPs, many of which are quite rare. Major has loads of great stories, including accounts of meeting some of the eccentrics behind his favorite records.

We’ve put together a collection of tunes and cover art from twelve oddball albums, with Major’s commentary from the pages of Feel The Music.
 
Soulettes
Jr. and His Soulettes – ‘Psychodelic Sounds’ (HMM Records, 1971)

A pinch-yourself, this-record-can’t-really-exist level of amazing. An 11-year-old guitarist and his three sisters who are even younger grooving it out with funky swirling go-go organs, primordial drums and titles like “Thing, Do the Creep” and “Mama Love Tequila.” They’re so tight and loose they sound like they’ve been playing together for decades!

 
Much much more after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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05.31.2017
09:02 am
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Spanker’s Delight: The vintage erotica of Chéri Hérouard (NSFW)
05.30.2017
10:23 am
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Chéri Hérouard (1881-1961) was an artist best known for his illustrative work for French magazines like the Catholic girls’ journal La Semaine de Suzette and the gentlemen’s’ weekly La Vie Parisienne for which he supplied the cover art for over forty years. His eye-catching illustrations were highly popular and reflected the noteworthy changes in art from Art Nouveau through Art Deco to pioneering the more modern graphic art/comic book style of the 1940s and 1950s. La Vie Parisienne was the magazine best associated with Hérouard’s artwork. This society weekly featured risque erotica alongside stories and features on art, theater, film, literature, and fashion. It was kind of like Esquire magazine or a classier Playboy without the naked flesh.

Hérouard was born Chéri-Louis-Marie-Aime Haumé into a reasonably well-to-do family that lived in the fortified city of Rocroi in the Ardennes district of France. His father died from a freak riding accident just days before his birth. His mother remarried into the Hérouard family—from whom Chéri took his surname. His mother and stepfather thought Chéri was best suited for a career in the military—but their son had a very different idea of what he should be. Hérouard wanted to be an artist. He submitted a portfolio of his work on spec to the magazine Le Journal de la Jeunesse. The editor was so impressed by Hérouard’s draughtsmanship, he bought a selection of drawings for publication in 1902. Like most of his work, these drawings mixed fantasy and fetishism—women as fairies or nymphs, or later, movie stars (like Louise Brooks, above) as desirable fantasies. His distinctive style led Chéri to be soon hired as one of the main artists supplying work for La Vie Parisienne which he joined in 1907.

Providing the covers for a hugely popular magazine was enough to ensure Chéri Hérouard’s reputation as an artist. But he also had a secret life as an illustrator of erotica under the pseudonym “Herric.” As Herric, Chéri illustrated several erotic books, most notably the novel Les Liaisons dangereuses, the Kama Sutra, and a series of “spanking novels” like Leurs pantalons (1927) by Jacques Mauvain, Matée par le fouet (1930) by Jean Martinet, Cinglants châtiments (1932) by Walter Flog, Pantalons sans défense (1938) by Jean Claqueret, and L’écrin du rubis (1939) by Liane Delorys. What we learn from such erotica is that the so-called “sexual revolution” didn’t really start in the swinging sixties—there was always a thriving world of sex and sexual experimentation enjoyed by both men and women long before the advent of Playboy, porn, and the contraceptive pill. This secret history is evinced through the diverse artwork of dozens if not hundreds of artists like Hérouard, Suzanne Ballivet, Bernard Montorgueil, and Luc Lafnet, among many others. These artists (many anonymous) produced erotic illustrations from the 18th-century on, and their work documented the growth of interest in fetishism, S&M, role-play, and gender fluidity long before it was deemed fashionable.
 
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More of Herric’s spanking illustrations, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.30.2017
10:23 am
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Of Skinheads, Suedeheads and Knuckle Girls: The gritty novels of Richard Allen
05.25.2017
04:02 pm
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In the 1960s the New English Library, a British subsidiary of the New American Library, had been plodding along churning out westerns and science fiction novels, but after approximately 1970 the imprint stumbled on a new audience that would make it lots of money. For young men who grew up in Britain during the era, the New English Library was an endless source of high-octane pulp fiction about the rough and tumble of the urban street.

The name applied to the genre eventually came to be “bovver,” as in “bovver boys” or “bovver boots”—it was a corruption of “bother”—but many also simply think of them as the Skinhead books. They were geared toward a working-class youth audience and saw opportunities in the mostly white subcultures that were coming into being at the time, skinheads, punks, bikers, and mods, with attention also paid to girl gangs. Using photographic covers for automatic authenticity, the books crammed as much telltale detail of “the life” as possible. Many readers were certain that the author must be “one of them”—which was not really true.

As Harry Sword wrote in his memorable VICE story about the publishing company from 2014 “The New English Library was the maniacal king of pulp publishing in 1970s Britain.” “Maniacal” was an apt descriptor: One of the hallmarks of this new type of fiction was that books were churned out at an incredibly fast rate. Sword quotes Mark Howell, employed by “the NEL” in the early 1970s:
 

That damn delivery schedule was the most driving force I’ve ever met in publishing. You just had to get it out there—it was breakneck, insane. I started a series called Deathlands, and the first writer I gave it to had done a wonderful first story and was given the green light—and spent his entire advance on heroin, which, back in those days, was not unknown. It was crippling for some, but most of our writers were addicts of the typewriter, and one of the glories of this was that it was a conveyer belt—we thoroughly addicted our readers. It was endless repetition stemming from unresolved anomaly.

 
The most successful books of the NEL were the Skinhead series, which focused on a “misanthropic 16-year-old thug” named Joe Hawkins. The Skinhead books were incredibly violent and trafficked heavily in racism, rape, robbery, and gang beatings. To read one of the Richard Allen books was to enter a world of “cold rain, futility, bad sex, spilt blood and stale beer” set in an indistinguishable series of East London tenements.

The books were credited to “Richard Allen” but the identity of the author was actually James Moffat, a Canadian-born author who cold generate 10,000 words a day and published roughly 300 books over his long career. He died in 1993 at the age of 71.

As Howell says, “We had a market who were always hungry for more. The James Moffat Skinhead books sold in their millions.” The first novel of the Joe Hawkins series, Skinhead, was published in 1970. A year later the book Suedehead came out. Those two books as well as Skinhead Escapes were reprinted in 2015 by Dean Street Press.
 

 

 
Much more after the jump…....

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.25.2017
04:02 pm
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John Thompson’s visionary artwork for Robert Anton Wilson’s ‘Cosmic Trigger’
05.17.2017
03:25 pm
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John Coulthart has done us all a service by reminding us of the wonderful art that appears in Robert Anton Wilson’s mind-bending follow-up (and companion) to his well-known Illuminatus! Trilogy, which bore the memorable title Cosmic Trigger with the subtitle Final Secret of the Illuminati.

The Illuminatus! Trilogy introduced readers to an incredible stew of ideas and influences that included Adam Weishaupt, UFOs, Wilhelm Reich, the number 23, John Dillinger’s penis, Carlos Castaneda, tarot, LSD—and did it via an enjoyable sci-fi/thriller plot—but Cosmic Trigger, while doing nothing to “rein in” the scope of Wilson’s occult interests, helped put some of the fictional trilogy’s meat on the bone in a semi-autobiographical context. Wilson not only told his readers how to get to the front door of Chapel Perilous, he also explained the secret “knock” required for entrance and what happened to you when you went inside.

As brilliant as he was, even Bob Wilson benefited greatly from having his ideas visualized in such a simpatico manner. John Thompson, a noted figure from the San Francisco comix scene, and someone very interested in mysticism and spirituality, was the ideal person to bring the visionary material to life.

Coulthart points out that not all editions of Cosmic Trigger included Thompson’s memorable cover (above), but most retained his internal illustrations. Here are some of those followed by a few of his other illustrations, which are just as creative and stimulating as the Cosmic Trigger material.

Daisy Eris Campbell’s Cosmic Trigger: The Play is currently being staged at The Cockpit in London. Buy tickets here.
 

Above, Thompson’s portrait of the author
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.17.2017
03:25 pm
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Punk, Patti Smith, William Burroughs & capitalism: A ‘conceptual conversation’ with RE/Search’s Vale
05.15.2017
05:44 pm
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Vale with William Burroughs

This interview with V. Vale was conducted by Michael Lee Nirenberg, director of the 2014 documentary Back Issues: The Hustler Magazine Story

Early in my conversation with publisher and writer V. Vale he called me a “conceptual conversationalist,” although that moniker really belongs to Vale himself. Vale has had an interesting life. He was born in a Japanese-American internment camp in 1944, moved to Haight-Ashbury at the height of the 1960s counterculture movement, joined the original lineup of Blue Cheer, went on to publish punk zine Search and Destroy while working at beatnik bookstore City Lights, and then made his serious mark on the emerging post-punk culture with RE/Search.

For me, the seminal RE/Search journals which Vale has been publishing since the 1980s are a snapshot of culture at its most vital and ideas at their most radical. RE/Search was like early Interview magazine but the interviews were largely unedited, ran long, and each volume more or less tackled a particular subject. Some of the more well-known ones are: Pranks, Incredibly Strange Films, and The Industrial Culture Handbook.

Needless to say Vale’s work has been an influence on me. I met Vale at the New York Art Book Fair last year and interviewed him by phone on April 2, 2017. Below is that conversation edited lightly and segmented because Vale is a stream of consciousness type guy and you have to just roll with him. Enjoy.
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On interviews and conversations

VV: So I invented a phrase for you while I was waiting for you to call; “conceptual conversationalist.” How’s that?

MN: That’s pretty good, man. All of a sudden I feel like I’m in a RE/Search interview.

VV: (laughs) Well that’s proper. It’s all useful. Conversations are two-way streets.

MN: I agree and I think that’s what attracted me to RE/Search throughout the years, and why I return to the volumes. I wrote out a dozen or so question but that doesn’t mean I have a script I’m going to follow. As you know a conversation takes you elsewhere.

VV: The holy grail of a conversation is when suddenly there appears a concept or an idea that neither person has contemplated before.

MN: Yeah. I agree with that and I think that’s when it’s the most successful.

VV: Whatever. I’m not a success or failure guy, I just observe what’s happening but that’s kinda rare and when it happens it’s a mini cause celebre.

MN: I think that’s a good point. I was wondering if everyone who has ever interviewed you has attempted to do a RE/Search interview on some level.

VV: I don’t really call them interviews, I call them conversations. That gives you a lot more latitude to go into some unexpected direction. Play and humor are like the supreme goal I suppose. I don’t know. I suppose I don’t know how to answer that one (laughs), I just try to have fun with whoever I’m talking to.

MN: Yeah, I think I do the same thing.

VV: Good! Hooray we’re on the same wavelength.

MN: Yeah, it seems obvious that humor is the thing that makes life bearable. And ideas.

VV: Well yeah… ideas. Especially ideas. Yeah, humor of course.
 

 
On Capitalism

VV: Oh yeah, ideas especially. The main idea always (laughs) is the overarching theme of how do we make this world a better place? How can we conceptualize a better world? How do we visualize a better world? For example I don’t understand why there aren’t more young artists making films about how life ought to be and dare I say a future that’s post-capitalism. I’m sure you know who (Slavoj) Žižek is and I think the best thing he ever said was, “You can imagine the apocalypse, you can imagine the end of the world, but you can’t imagine a world after capitalism.”

MN: Oh, that’s good.

VV: I’m a capitalist. I make books and hope someone buys them and I obviously need to make a profit so I can pay my rent, but I can’t imagine another system. Boy, if you can you will be the first!

MN: I struggle with this too. For all its flaws, the critiques don’t offer a way out. Look at the countries that went all in with socialism and communism. They started off as such high-minded concepts until they became religion.

VV: Even worse than religion (laughs). I think it’s all patriarchy, but yet I like most ideas of feminism which are actually the same ideas found in anti-racism i.e fighting privilege. There’s that famous saying you probably know which is “privilege confers blinders.” A lot of times if you have privilege you don’t feel it. It doesn’t even exist within the world you’re conceptualizing.

I always said my goal in publishing was (and I stole it from Hegel), “if you’re working, work for more freedom, more consciousness (that’s a great word) and more justice for more people.” The hard thing is the justice because then you get into the grimy world of lawyering and criminality and it’s just so much. Can you imagine if you were a heterosexual seeking a relationship with another heterosexual of the opposite gender. Let’s say complementary gender. I’m not a fan of opposite. I’m a fan of complimentary.

MN: Yes and relativity.

VV: Yes. Can you just imagine a world in which you try to act in perfect justice with another partner? I’m a huge fan of having a partner for a simple reason which is the hardest thing you can do. I’ve never had a job and I managed to support myself mostly and the hardest thing to do is guess what? Make next month’s rent.The other person (your partner) has to worry about the same thing. Take my word for it. It makes life a helluva lot easier and bearable.

More with Vale after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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05.15.2017
05:44 pm
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Drawings of ‘mental illnesses’ from 1840
05.15.2017
11:51 am
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“Female patient suffering from erotomania, 1843.”

Science is a bit like Doubting Thomas—it has to see the evidence before believing it. And sometimes even then it is just theories about what was or was not seen.

Way back in the early 1800s, many scientists thought it an idea to use visual representation, through illustrations and engraving, to help codify the system of identifying say, organs, bones, types of disease, and even mental illness. For example, a drawing of someone suffering from buboes caused by the pox would help diagnose a patient with similar buboes also caused by the pox. It was a logical, well-intended, and noble idea, one that helped create the many books on anatomy and disease which progressed the development of medicine from the 1700s on—most notably Gray’s Anatomy in 1858.

The physician and alienist, Sir Alexander Morison (1779—1866) pioneered the documentation of psychiatric illness during the early to mid-1800s. An “alienist” is the archaic term for a psychiatrist or psychologist. Morrison was inspecting physician at the Surrey Asylum and Bethlehem Hospital. He excelled in the diagnosis and treatment of those poor unfortunate people who suffered from mental illness. He was a wise and kindly old gent, who wrote two texts of great importance on psychiatric illness—Outlines of Lectures on Mental Diseases (1826), and Cases of Mental Disease, with Practical Observations on the Medical Treatment (1828). But these were but a warm-up for his illustrated volume The Physiognomy of Mental Diseases in 1840.

The Physiognomy of Mental Diseases contained descriptions of the various types of mental illness, case studies of various patients from a selection of England’s psychiatric hospitals, and some possible treatments. At the time, psychiatric care was going through a much-needed overhaul, with patients being treated as suffering from a (possibly) curable disease rather than being written-off as possessed by demons or just too fucked-up to no longer defined as human and dumped in bedlam where they were often exhibited to the amusement of the paying public. Morrison devised (whether by himself or in collaboration is unclear) the idea of illustrating his book on The Physiognomy of Mental Diseases with a series of portrait engravings of the patients whose case studies he was describing. It was a very useful idea.

However, it does suggest that mental illness can always be identified through a patient’s facial expressions—as if there are certain universal physical attributes that define all types of mental illness. Moreover, such drawings were open to possible caricature with artists exaggerating certain facial tics or expressions which may or may not be relevant. Morrison’s approach was valued until the 1850s, when the photograph was deemed to be the more scientific and reliable choice for documenting mental illness by his successor at the Surrey Asylum, the physician and pioneering photographer Hugh Welch Diamond.
 
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Portrait of 20-year-old female mental patient.

 
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More engravings from ‘The Physiognomy of Mental Diseases,’ after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.15.2017
11:51 am
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‘Blade Runner’: The Marvel Comics adaptation
05.10.2017
11:19 am
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Never trust a critic. Most of them know fuck all.

Strange as it may seem now, Ridley Scott’s movie Blade Runner received a decidedly mixed bag of notices upon its first release in June 1982. Some newspapers scribes considered Harison Ford wooden; the voice-over cliched; the storyline way too complex; the whole damn thing butt-numbingly slow and just a tad boring. One broadsheet even described the film as “science fiction pornography,” while the LA Times called it “Blade Crawler” because it moved along so slowly.

But some folks knew the film’s real worth—like Marvel Comics.

In September 1982, Marvel issued a “Super Special” comic book adaptation of Blade Runner. This was quickly followed by a two-part reissue of the comic during October and November of that year. This was when those three little words “Stan Lee presents” guaranteed a real good time and Marvel’s version of Blade Runner fulfilled that promise.

The comic was written by Archie Goodwin with artwork from Al Williamson and Carlos Garzon with Dan Green and Ralph Reese. While movies have time to develop story, plot, and character, and create their own atmosphere, comic books get six panels a page to achieve the same. Marvel’s Blade Runner managed the transposition from screen to page quite successfully. The artists picked up on some of the movie’s most iconic imagery while still managing to add their own take on the Philip K. Dick tale. Williamson offered his own (cheesy) definition of the term “Blade Runner” at the very end of the story:

Blade runner. You’re always movin’ on the edge.

What???

You can read the whole comic here. Click on images below for larger size.
 
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More from Rick Deckard , Roy Batty and co., after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.10.2017
11:19 am
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