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Moebius for Maxwell House, 1989
01.15.2019
09:32 am
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In 1989 Jean Giraud, or Moebius as he is universally known in the comix world, accepted an assignment from the Paris office of Young & Rubicam. The client was Maxwell House coffee, and the job called for a series of advertisements that would appear in French magazines. The images correlated roughly to what we would today call “a New Yorker cartoon” but they also overflowed with the exacting, unmistakable, visionary touch of Moebius, collaborator of Alejandro Jodorowsky, Ridley Scott, James Cameron, and Luc Besson.

Moebius completed six images for Young & Rubicam but only four were actually used in magazines. The theme of the advertisements was “Grain de Folie,” which translates to something like “a touch of madness.” The purpose of the campaign appears to have been to convince French womankind that a coffee during the daytime might be seen as a proper activity or even a reward for completed tasks, as we shall see.

The heroine of the series was “Tatiana,” a self-possessed and fashionable young woman who happens to find herself alone on a deserted jungle island or the like. Rather than display a shred of panic, unflappable Tatiana instead demurely sips her cup of Maxwell House coffee, a cup that invariably is defined as a tiny expanse of white in an otherwise completely yellow image. Tatiana is so utterly capable that even the considerable threats of the jungle are reduced (in the caption, we find) to the everyday trials of suburban domesticity. Or something.

Here are two rather grainy images of the ads more or less in action. Note that you can see a small amount of white space to indicate where the center of the image would be, in the two-page spread of a magazine. (Better images—and translations—are supplied further down, never fear.)
 

 

 
Moebius fans have been aware of these images for quite a while. In 1991, just two years after the campaign, French artist Numa Sadoul included them in a book called Mœbius: Entretiens avec Numa Sadoul. A few years later they were printed in a limited run as Coffee Dreams, the 5th issue of Ashcan Comics, a series dedicated to Moebius rarities.
 

 
That issue, which was limited to just 100 copies, fetches $500 in online auction sites today—which is true of all of the Ashcan Comics that I was able to find.

Here are better-quality pics with proper captions so that you can enjoy the full effect of these indelible Moebius images:
 

Ce petit break fut un soulangement pour Tatiana qui se lassait tant de ces blablas intellos. (The little break was a relief for Tatiana, who was sick and tired of all the intellectual blah-blah.)

 
More Moebius after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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01.15.2019
09:32 am
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Orson Welles’ ‘Voodoo’ Macbeth on film
01.10.2019
08:55 am
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Poster for the ‘Voodoo’ Macbeth on tour in Indianapolis (WPA Federal Theatre Photos, via Library of Congress)

A theater company in St. Petersburg, Florida recently mounted a revival of Orson Welles’ “Voodoo” Macbeth, which transposed the medieval violence and witchcraft of Shakespeare’s “Scottish play” into 19th century Haiti. The show and the stir it caused had much to do with the Welles legend. When it opened at Harlem’s Lafayette Theatre on April 14, 1936, some 10,000 people surrounded the venue, blocking traffic on Seventh Avenue; when the show toured the country after a three-month run in Harlem, the playbill boasted that the original engagement played to 150,000 people. 

The original production was financed by the New Deal. During the second half of the thirties, the Federal Theatre Project funded performances to feed starving actors and keep stages open. One of these was the Negro Theatre Unit’s Macbeth, directed by a 20-year-old Orson Welles. Despite his youth, Welles was not timid around the Bard, having published a three-volume set of Shakespeare plays “edited for reading and arranged for staging” during his teens. Among other revisions and inventions (such as the unmistakably Wellesian costumes and sets), Welles’ audacious staging of Macbeth replaced the three witches with a troupe of Voodoo drummers and dancers.
 

WPA Federal Theatre Photos, via Detroit Public Library
 
There is a wonderful story about the theater critic Percy Hammond, who panned the show in the New York Herald Tribune and died shortly thereafter. The tale exists in many versions; here’s how John Houseman, Welles’ friend and mentor, who was in charge of the Negro Theatre Unit and brought Welles on board, tells it in Voices from the Federal Theatre:

When we did the Voodoo Macbeth, it was very successful, and we got very nice reviews except from a few die-hard Republican papers. Percy Hammond wrote a perfectly awful review saying this was a disgrace that money was being spent on these people who couldn’t even speak English and didn’t know how to do anything. It was a dreadful review but purely a political review.

We had in the cast of Macbeth about twelve voodoo drummers and one magic man, a medicine man who used to have convulsions on the stage every night. They decided that this was a very evil act by Mr. Hammond, and they came to Orson and me and showed the review. They say, “This is bad man.” And we said, “Yeah, a helluva bad man. Sure, he’s a bad man.”

The next day when Orson and I came to the theatre, the theatre manager said, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but there were some very strange goings-on last night. After the show they stayed in the theatre, and there was drumming and chanting and stuff.” We said, “Oh, really?” What made it interesting was the fact that we’d just read the afternoon papers. Percy Hammond had just been taken to the hospital with an acute attack of something from which he died a few days later. We always were convinced that we had unwittingly killed him.

 

WPA Federal Theatre Photos, via Detroit Public Library
 
Jean Cocteau, who was then reenacting Phileas Fogg’s circumnavigation of the planet, caught the “Voodoo” Macbeth in Harlem. Welles’ biographer Simon Callow reports that Cocteau, though put off at first by the startling changes in lighting, came to appreciate its “Wagnerian” effect, which heightened the play’s violence. In Cocteau’s account of his travels, Mon Premier Voyage, after recording a few criticisms of Welles’ choices, he expresses his admiration for the show:

But these are details. At the La Fayette theatre that sublime drama is played as nowhere else, and in its black fires the final scene is transmuted into a gorgeous ballet of catastrophe and death.

 

WPA Federal Theatre Photos, via Detroit Public Library
 

WPA Federal Theatre Photos, via Detroit Public Library
 
Thanks to another New Deal program, the Works Progress Administration, some film of the original “Voodoo” Macbeth survives. We Work Again, the WPA’s documentary on African American unemployment, culminates in this footage of the production, touted by the narrator in the old-fashioned American rhetorical style:

The Negro Theatre Unit of the Federal Theatre Project produced a highly successful version of Shakespeare’s immortal tragedy Macbeth, which far exceeded its scheduled run in New York and was later sent on a tour of the country. The scene was changed from Scotland to Haiti, but the spirit of Macbeth and every line in the play has remained intact. In this contribution to the American theatre, and in other projects under the Works program, we have set our feet on the road to a brighter future.

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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01.10.2019
08:55 am
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Born To Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey
01.10.2019
08:15 am
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Cultural critic Mark Dery, whose erudite essays have appeared in the pages of the Atlantic Monthly, Washington Post, Village Voice and his own collections, The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink and Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century, returns with his remarkable biography of the comically sinister author and illustrator Edward Gorey. This delightful combination of biographer and subject has been praised in the New York Times, the New Yorker, at NPR Vogue and other prestige outlets. We’re pleased to present a short excerpt from Born To Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey (Little, Brown) at Dangerous Minds.

In the following excerpt from my just-published biography, Born To Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey (Little, Brown), I explore Gorey’s role, alongside Seuss and Sendak, in the postwar revolution in children’s books, a gleeful insurrection that killed off those insufferable, simpering Goody-Goodies, Dick and Jane, for good. In so doing, Gorey and other writer-illustrators reshaped American notions of kids lit and even childhood itself, making way for a more honest acceptance of the facts of life: divorce, death, racial tensions, queer desire. As well, the new wave slyly satirized not only the mainstream culture of the ‘50s and ‘60s but the conventions of children’s literature itself, many of which dated back to the cautionary tales and nursery-rhyme sermonizing of the Victorian era, when the children’s book as we know it was born. Whether Gorey’s work really was kiddie fare or arsenical treats for adults ironically disguised as picture books is still up for debate. Regardless, his influence is stronger than ever, identifiable at a glance in the YA novels of Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events) and Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), the twee-goth movies of Tim Burton, and somber memoirs of “the miseries of childhood,” as Gorey put it, such as Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home.

— Mark Dery

Nineteen-sixty saw the publication of Edward Gorey’s sixth book, The Fatal Lozenge, by the New York publisher Ivan Obolensky. Subtitled An Alphabet, The Fatal Lozenge was his first foray into the ABC genre. He would go on to perform variations on the abecedarium theme in six books, one of which, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, would become his best-known title. [They are, in chronological order, The Fatal Lozenge, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, The Utter Zoo, The Chinese Obelisks, The Glorious Nosebleed, and The Eclectic Abecedarium.]

The alphabet book is one of the oldest forms of children’s literature. Rhyming couplets, illustrated by woodcuts, aided memorization. Early examples wedded ABCs and Calvinist catechism. The New England Primer, ubiquitous in late-seventeenth-century America, is typical of the genre:

A In Adam’s Fall We sinnèd all.
B Heaven to find; The Bible Mind.
C Christ crucify’d For sinners dy’d.
D The Deluge drown’d The Earth around.

Gorey’s interest in the alphabet book was undoubtedly a byproduct of his interest in Edward Lear, well known for loopy abecedaria like “Nonsense Alphabet” (1845) (“P was a pig, / Who was not very big; / But his tail was too curly, / And that made him surly”). His library reveals a longstanding fascination with the form, with a predictable focus on the nineteenth century. On Gorey’s bookshelves, we find A Moral Alphabet (1899) by Hilaire Belloc, A Comic Alphabet (1836) by George Cruikshank, a Dover facsimile of The Adventures of A, Apple Pie, Who Was Cut to Pieces and Eaten by Twenty Six Young Ladies and Gentlemen with Whom All Little People Ought to Be Acquainted (circa 1835), and of course Lear in abundance. 

At the same time, he couldn’t have been oblivious, as an illustrator working in commercial book publishing, to the waves Dr. Seuss was making in kid lit. Alphabet books were playing an important part in reshaping American ideas about childhood. Consider Seuss’s On Beyond Zebra! (1955), whose boy narrator dreams up a new alphabet for kids who think outside the Little Golden box (“In the places I go there are things that I see / That I never could spell if I stopped with the Z”). Or Maurice Sendak’s Alligators All Around (1962), in which “shockingly spoiled” reptilian protagonists throw tantrums and juggle jelly beans with abandon. These and other unconventional abecedaria celebrate Romper Room radicals who flout the rules. Seen in their cultural and historical context, they look like premonitions of the hippie era, with its worship of nonconformity and its elevation of the child to a cultural icon, not to mention its stoner humor and acid-soaked song lyrics.

Though he seemed barely to notice the counterculture of the ’60s, beyond the Beatles, Gorey was in his own quietly perverse way more iconoclastic than Seuss or Sendak. In The Fatal Lozenge, as in The Listing Attic, his earlier book of macabre limericks, his combination of a children’s genre (in this case, the ABC book) with dark subject matter and black comedy is both mordantly funny and unsettling, especially when he crosses the line, as he occasionally does, into the “sick humor” of contemporaries such as the cartoonist Gahan Wilson. When an interviewer mentioned to Sendak that the grisly drawing of an infant skewered on the point of a Zouave’s sword in The Fatal Lozenge was the moment when Gorey went “down the road of no return as far as publishers were concerned,” Sendak quipped, “That’s why he was so loved. There’s never enough dead babies for us.”
 

 
The literary theorist George R. Bodmer places Gorey’s ironic, sardonic ABCs in the context of a postwar pushback, among children’s authors such as Seuss and Sendak, “against the limits of imagination, or the limits the outside world would impose on imagination . . .” In his essay “The Post-Modern Alphabet: Extending the Limits of the Contemporary Alphabet Book, from Seuss to Gorey,” Bodmer calls Gorey’s “anti-alphabets” a “sarcastic rebellion against a view of childhood that is sunny, idyllic, and instructive.” Gorey’s mock-moralistic tone satirizes received wisdom about the benignity of parents and other authority figures: a magnate waiting for his limousine “ponders further child-enslavement / And other projects still more mean”; two little children quail in terror at the sight of their towering, bearded uncle, for they “know that at his leisure / He plans to have them come to harm.” Yet Gorey also punctures the myth that children are little angels: a baby, “lying meek and quiet” on a bearskin rug, “Has dreams about rampage and riot / And will grow up to be a thug.” (The rug’s enormous, snarling head, with its bared fangs, is an omen of mayhem to come.)

Talking about The Fatal Lozenge in 1977, Gorey said, “This was a very early book and at that date I was not above trying to shock everyone a bit.” In that sense, his sixth book is so similar to his second that it might as well be called Son of Listing Attic. A good part of the book consists of the usual droll riffing on stock characters and situations borrowed from gothic novels, penny dreadfuls, Conan Doyle, and Dickens.

But just as clearly, there’s more going on in The Fatal Lozenge than enfant terrible-ism (“trying to shock everyone a bit”) or the larger trends identified by Bodmer: the bohemian backlash against the suffocating normalcy of the Eisenhower era and the growing resistance, led by Drs. Spock and Seuss, to outdated, repressive ideas about childhood and parenting. The recurrence of themes closer to home—the beastliness of babies, the depravity of the clergy (a nun is “fearfully bedevilled”), the furtiveness and shamefulness of homosexual desire, here associated with child molestation and even more monstrous perversions (“The Proctor buys a pupil ices, / And hopes the boy will not resist / When he attempts to practice vices / Few people even know exist”)—makes us feel, at times, as if we’re eavesdropping on a psychotherapy session. That these disconcerting images come to us in the reassuring wrappings of a children’s book makes The Fatal Lozenge even more disquieting.

It’s precisely that insinuating knowingness that Sendak loved about Gorey’s little books. “They all had what appealed to me so much—aside from the graphics and the writing—[which] was the wicked sexual ambiguity that ran through all of it.” Even Gorey’s artlessly brilliant covers for Anchor Books, Doubleday’s tasteful paperback line, exhibited an arch wit, Sendal thought. “I remember a jacket he did for…a novel by Melville, Redburn. And the jacket summed up completely the kind of confused homosexuality of that novel….So erotic and yet so simple. You can look at it any way you like. . . . [H]e buried a lot of information about himself in the art.”
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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01.10.2019
08:15 am
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‘You didn’t want to support that guy!’ R. Crumb turns down Mick Jagger
01.08.2019
10:07 am
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Born in 1943, Robert Dennis Crumb is likely the most renowned underground comics artist and arguably the most adept comix practitioner of all time. As hyperbolic a figure as the Boomer generation ever produced, Crumb famously emerged out of a family full of nut cases to become a figure out of time, clinging to his beloved jazz records from the World War I era while loudly disdaining much of modern life and spontaneously projecting his wiry frame onto the lap of whatever healthy-buttocked woman is in the vicinity.

Crumb’s singular cover for Big Brother and the Holding Company represents something of an exception to Crumb’s distaste for the most beloved artifacts of his own generation. It was inarguably Crumb’s most successful foray into the rock milieu, but what is rather less known as that the Rolling Stones also wanted Crumb to do a cover for them, but he turned them down flat. 
 

 
In an amusing interview conducted by Larry Jaffee sometime during the George W. Bush administration, Crumb amusingly discourses on the commission to do the artwork for Cheap Thrills. He didn’t dig the music, but he did the cover because he liked Janis Joplin as a person, and she asked him to do it. He earned a cool six hundred bucks for the art.

When Mick Jagger came a-callin’, though, Crumb said no way. In the Jaffee interview, he says that he didn’t want to “endorse” the music of the Stones, because he found all of the guys in the band “irritating.” Crumb even candidly cops to a little jealousy with respect to Jagger’s sexual appeal. “All the girls liked it, girls didn’t like cartoonists, they liked Mick Jagger.... You didn’t want to support that guy!”

And then, of course, comes Crumb’s trademark chuckle.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider
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01.08.2019
10:07 am
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‘Qaeda, Quality, Question, Quickly, Quickly, Quiet’: Learning the alphabet with George W. Bush
01.03.2019
08:33 am
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I remember watching George W. Bush deliver the State of the Union address on January 29, 2002, on the TV of a tiny barroom in the East Bay. No cocktail was strong enough. This was the speech that denounced the “axis of evil,” a coinage of Bush speechwriter David Frum, who has lately been rehabilitated as a true friend of democracy and stalwart defender of the realm. Perhaps when the professional eulogists are finished carving the likenesses of Poppy and W. into Mount Rushmore, they can squeeze in this august son of Canada, who believes the problem with the Iraq War was the people of Iraq.

With every patriot face now awash in tears for these old-fashioned Republicans, the kind who could, when the occasion demanded it, speak in complete sentences, let us remember “Qaeda, Quality, Question, Quickly, Quickly, Quiet,” the artist Lenka Clayton‘s alphabetized cut of the address, which blasted those sentences to rubble and sifted the bits. Marc Campbell posted this vid on DM many moons ago, but it’s worth revisiting now. On one hand, it is a cognition-destroying mindhammer that smashes illusions about the stimulus-response theory of government. On the other, even alphabetically reordered and condensed to 18 minutes, W.‘s oratory sounds like Pericles next to the barnyard squawks and grunts that will comprise the phonemic index of the 2019 State of the Union address, which I understand will be subtitled “A Case Study in Lycanthropy.”
 

Detail from the soundtrack LP cover

If you like the movie, you’ll love the soundtrack LP (side one: “A - My,” side two: “Nation - Zero”) and accompanying flip-book.
 

via Reddit

Posted by Oliver Hall
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01.03.2019
08:33 am
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Gods and Monsters: The haunting artwork of Shiki Taira
01.02.2019
07:16 am
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01taira.jpg
 
Room #3110 of the Park Hotel, Tokyo, has a large plate glass window with an impressive view of Mount Fuji. The view is one of the reasons for booking the room. The other, more important reason, is room #3110 has been designed and painted by artist Shiki Taira. It is room #30 in the hotel’s series of apartments designed by different Japanese artists. The hotel management’s intent is to offer guests a “fresh look at art”

To touch the beauty of the soul, surely a hotel which refreshes mind and body, and where more time is available for relaxation than in art museums, is an ideal venue for such an experience.

Taira’s room #3110 features a variety of Japanese gods flying across the walls, which when night falls, their reflection makes it appear as if these gods are flying over Mount Fuji. Taira adds:

I wanted to create a room where guests will be surrounded by auspicious Japanese motifs…They are lucky Japanese motifs such as the Fujin (Wind God), Raijin (Thunder God), Shichifukujin (Seven Lucky Gods) and Ichimoku-sama (One-Eyed God)...

 
08taira.jpg
Part of room #3110 designed and painted by Shiki Taira.
 
Born in Tokyo in 1990, Taira studied at the Department of Design, Tokyo University of Arts, where she graduated in Fine Art from the Department of Drawing and Decorative Art in 2013. Taira first exhibited her work at the 0+Ten Gallery, Tokyo, with further shows quickly following at the Sato Museum of Art, the ShinPA 10th, Gallery Art Morimoto, and the Seizan Gallery. She has been described as “a cutting edge artist” who is known for “her unique yōkai world that unfolds on silk with excellent brush works.”

Taira’s paintings incorporate traditional yōkai—the gods, ghosts, shape-shifters, and monsters from Japanese mythology who live in the half-light, the twilight area between between known and unknown, who prey on the unwitting and the lost—and reimagines them in a contemporary setting. Taira has said of her work that she likes to deform an individual’s distinctive features which then allows her to bring out images of the phantoms underneath. In Japan, she says:

We have an idea the gods dwell in various creatures and nature traditionally in Japan. Phantom is a part of these ideas and painted and printed in subject of Ukiyo-e in Edo-period by Hokusai Katsushika and others.

Her work suggests our lives are haunted by strange obsessions and superstitions which can sometimes shape our actions.
 
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More beautiful, ghostly artworks after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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01.02.2019
07:16 am
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Eric Stanton & The Bizarre Underground (plus the fetish culture origins of Spider-Man!)

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In Eric Stanton & the History of the Bizarre Underground the sordid tale of the fetish world, this so-called “bizarre underground,” is revealed to be less steeped in the creepy/sleazy milieu it is normally portrayed as coming from. Author Richard Perez Seves details how the fetish subculture had many allies and partners in the supposedly more innocent OVERground world of the happy Fifties and Sixties. This long awaited book tells this story as it should be told, with LOADS of black and white and color art reproductions, histories, collectors’ checklists with detailed descriptions and more. It’s a very “modern” book in the sense that it’s perfect for the short attention span world and can be read in, or out, of order as info is needed.

But I’m not saying there’s not much to read, because there is! And it’s written in an appropriate timeline, with copious notes and a great index. It doesn’t come off like an encyclopedia, nor does it speak down to its audience, and best of all it’s a big hardcover book that is really affordable. It’s actually way cheaper than it should be! Eric Stanton & the History of the Bizarre Underground can be found on sale as you read this for around twenty dollars on Amazon! Which is insane! Even the queen of burlesque Dita Von Teese has put her stamp of approval on the book.
 
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Everything I love and collect culturally seems to lead to the same time period, that fuzzy period around 1954 when things started bubbling into what we now know as rock n’ roll, teenage and monster cinema, the Beats, MAD Magazine, and the “bizarre fetish underground.” All of these things were initially seen as a threat to society the minute they became a “thing” that had an identity. This identity represented rebellion and freedom. All of these things had been brewing for varying periods of time, some for very long periods of time, by single-minded freethinkers experimenting with obsession, be it art, literature, music, or sex. But there’s a moment when a rebellious idea becomes a thing, meaning something that other people realize is happening and so they join in and start doing it as well. Then it becomes… a threat! And when kids get involved it makes it easier for the “critics” and politicians with agendas to start the finger pointing, blaming, set-ups and knock downs, political committees and so on.

These “things” were such a threat to the powers that be that they were portrayed as causing Communism, crime, drugs, pregnancies and worse. The premiere form of presentation in print of the fetish underground was, in fact, comics. Of course there were “dirty” photos as well—notably the classic Bettie Page shoots that informed male libidos of several generations—but it’s worth noting that—at the very least—50% of all published fetish materials were comics, which is quite odd and interesting. These were comics that were not read by children. It doesn’t seem like many women read them either, of course.
 
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The price is from 1958, which is pretty remarkable!
 
Unlike most artists, who simply drew what guys like Irving Klaw paid them (very little) to draw, Eric Stanton was very interested in the sexy subject matter he was working with, which is what injected his art with that extra shiny, whip-cracking “something.” He was also instrumental in bringing Gene Bilbrew (aka “Eneg” and other pseudonyms) into that world. Bilbrew was the yang to Stanton’s ying in a sense in that Stanton was a healthy, very fit, white suburban (at that time) family man, and Bilbrew was, as they say, living the life. Gene was an African-American heroin-addicted jazz musician living in, and at the end, dying in (of an overdose) in a porno bookshop on “The Deuce” (42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenue). Their styles were very similar at first (Bilbrew worked for Will Eisner and Jules Feiffer early on and he and Stanton met at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School, where they also met Steve Ditko and struck up a fast friendship). Bilbrew’s art got consistently weirder and weirder as time and his drug addiction went on, becoming so weird that it seemed to be intentional. And maybe it was, but I’m talking weird on two levels, one in subject matter with everyone, including the “pretty girls” used to sell the books he was illustrating becoming monstrous and bizarre (in the traditional sense) and downright ugly! On the other hand he seemed to lose his sense of perspective with arms and legs getting rendered too short, people looking like midgets, really big, almost square, wall-eyed heads, etc. (If all this was , er… on purpose, then Bilbrew has become my all-time favorite artist! Taking a concept as simple as using sexy women to sell hard up guys horny reading material and taking this idea and turning it on its head into a truly bizarre version of itself.)
 
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Three paperback covers, all with Gene Bilbrew art.
 
The big revelation in Eric Stanton & the History of the Bizarre Underground is the direct connection between the world of the adults-only sex underground publications and the burgeoning creation of Marvel Comics. In this book all the guessing, rumors and wondering that has been whispered about for decades is spelled out in words and in pictures!

Eric Stanton was married to a religious extremist who was massively opposed to what he started to do for a living. Stanton realized more and more how much he was turned on by this world he happened to step into and things went very wrong at home. In classic style Odd Couple-style, Stanton moved his studio into his art school buddy’s space. This friend happened to be one Steve Ditko, who would later go on to co-create Spider-Man with Stan Lee.

Keep reading after the jump…

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Posted by Howie Pyro
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12.24.2018
02:26 pm
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Meet the makeup artists who transformed David Bowie, Divine, Tim Curry & more into pretty things


A stunning image of David Bowie as Pierrot with makeup by Australian artist Richard Sharah.
 
There are few images in rock and roll as recognizable as David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane look. With his hair quaffed in a red mullet and a lightning bolt slashed across his face, it is hard to conceive how anyone would not be at least somewhat aware of Bowie in this context. Bowie’s constantly changing personae are, of course, some of his crowning achievements but as we all know, even the greatest artists didn’t become great without a little help from their friends. David Bowie had many incredible collaborators. Here are two which had the great honor of using his face as a canvas.

Bowie’s secret weapons in the makeup department during the 70s were Algerian-born Pierre La Roche, and legendary Australian makeup artist Richard Sharah. La Roche is the man responsible for creating Bowie’s iconic lightning bolt, and the far-out gold sphere Bowie sported on his forehead as Ziggy. Sharah gets the credit for bringing the Pierrot look used for the cover of Scary Monsters and the “Ashes to Ashes” video to life. However, both men have made other impactful contributions to the world of makeup. Let’s start with the late Richard Sharah.

Richard Sharah’s unique makeup style helped inspire the looks of the New Romantic movement. Sharah’s working relationship with designer Zandra Rhodes (who dressed Freddie Mercury and Queen during the 1970s) lasted for decades. Sharah was slightly color blind—something his fans and students believed only enhanced his artistic ability. Taking things a step further, Sharah also made his own products, therefore, creating truly singular work for his clients which in addition to Bowie included Visage’s Steve Strange and a makeup icon in his own right, Divine (pictured below).
 

Divine (Harris Glenn Milstead) in makeup done by Richard Sharah.
 
Pierre La Roche left his native Algiers and made his way to France while still in his teens, though he wouldn’t stay long. His next move was to England, where he worked for cosmetics giant Elizabeth Arden. While with EA, David Bowie would hire La Roche to do his makeup for his 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars, keeping him around to take care of business for the 1973 live concert film where Bowie retired Ziggy. Here’s more from LaRoche on Bowie’s “perfect” face:

He had the perfect face for makeup, even features, high cheekbones, and a very good mouth.

And boy, the man should know, as he spent the better part of the 1970s working on Bowie’s beloved mug. In 1971, he painted Bowie’s eyelids blue to compliment the famous turquoise suit worn in the “Life on Mars” video. In 1973 for the album Pin Ups, La Roche made both Bowie and supermodel Twiggy look gorgeously futuristic. In 1975 La Roche would work on the influential cult film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, where he was given the opportunity to create Dr. Frank N. Furter’s diabolical, sweet transvestite face, famous tattoos, as well as other characters for the film. As history has proven, this and the other images he concocted for RHPS are indelible, as are his other contributions, which strongly influenced the look of glam rock.
 
Much more make-up, after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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12.17.2018
08:36 am
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Revisiting Pete Shelley’s groundbreaking multimedia album project ‘XL1’
12.11.2018
10:11 am
Topics:
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Pete Shelley died late last week, a very sad day for all of us at Dangerous Minds. He will be missed.

Everyone reading this knows that Shelley played an important role in the UK punk scene as the lead vocalist and songwriter for Buzzcocks and was an important new wave innovator as a solo artist. Over the weekend John Coulthart called attention to an aspect of Shelley’s career I hadn’t known about, his innovative use of computer technology to create alternative means of enjoying music in the televisual age.

On the cover of Shelley’s first proper solo album, 1981’s Homosapien, a dandified version of the artist perches awkwardly in an extremely 1980s sort of “office” that featured (among other objects) a pyramid, a phrenologist’s skull, and, significantly, a Commodore Pet, which was one of the first personal computers sold directly to consumers, in the late 1970s. Wittingly or no, that Pet would signal a bold direction Shelley would take on his 1983 follow-up, XL•1, which featured a suite of “videos” to accompany each of the album’s songs that consisted entirely of computer graphics. The program was programmed by Joey Headen for the ZX Spectrum, a home computer of that moment that served as the approximate British equivalent to the Commodore 64 in the United States. (Remember: If you’re not pronouncing it “Zeddex Spectrum,” you’re not saying it right.)

According to Headen, Shelley, an early adopter of the ZX Spectrum, wrote a simple program in BASIC that would display the words to one of his songs in response to a series of key presses. Eventually, with the help of some computer-savvy friends, Shelley put together a test of a program that would run without requiring human intervention—using Wire’s “A Question of Degree” as the guinea pig. Shelley liked the results so much that for a time he would enthusiastically show the program off to houseguests.
 

 
Shelley’s producer Martin Rushent was (like Shelley) quite technophilic and thus instrumental in making the ZX Spectrum version of XL•1 come into being. Rushent’s home studio was technologically forward-looking enough that in 1983 the magazine MicroComputer Printout would quip that his mixing desk “looks like something out of Star Wars.” Rushent invited Headen and another programmer named Francis Cookson up to his home studio to work on the program while Shelley cut the tracks for the album. Headen later reminisced:
 

We decided the program was going to be divided into 10 different sections, one for each song. Each song was going to have a different graphical look.

The lower third of the screen, 8 lines of text, would contain the lyrics. I had devised different methods for the text appearing: instantly, slowly, from the side and from the top. These could be used depending on the song. The top part of the screen would be used for graphics. The graphics were kept simple—pixels, lines, circles, color blocks, scrolling horizontally and vertically.

With three weeks until the album was to be finished, I moved down to the hotel to work on the program full time. This was crunch time, and Francis and I spent most of the time working in the hotel room. In fact it took us three days before we realized that there was only one bed in the room and we had to change rooms.

 
Here’s one of the pages Headen saved from that month of work—a lyrics sheet in Shelley’s handwriting for XL•1‘s first track “Telephone Operator.” I’m not sure but the numbers on the right might have been some kind of notation for Headen to keep track of the program’s cues.
 

 
The program was crude but anyone who remembers 1983 at all will testify that such oddities didn’t seem crude whatsoever at the time.
 
After the jump, experience the full multimedia experience of XL•1….......
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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12.11.2018
10:11 am
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Black Xmas: Half off classic cult movie posters sale (for the weirdo on your Xmas shopping list)
12.05.2018
10:38 am
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Torture Garden’ (UK, 1967)
 
Every year around this time, Westgate Gallery‘s poster concierge extraordinaire Christian McLaughlin drastically cuts prices for his annual Black Xmas 50% Off Sale. Why it’s almost half off, even…

Anyway, my pal McLaughlin, a novelist and TV/movie writer and producer based in Los Angeles, is the maven of mavens when it comes to this sort of thing. You couldn’t even begin to stock a store like his if you didn’t know exactly what you were looking for in the first place, and if you want a quick (not to mention rather visceral) idea of his level of deep expertise—and what a great eye he’s got—then take a gander at his world-beating selection of Italian giallo posters. Christian is what I call a “sophisticate.”

He’s got a carefully curated cult poster collection on offer that is second to none. His home is a shrine to lurid giallo, 70s XXX and any and every midnight movie classic you can shake a stick at. But why would you want to shake a stick at a bunch of movie posters to begin with? That would be pointless. And stupid.

The Westgate Gallery’s Black Christmas 50% off sale sees every item in stock at—you guessed it—50% off the (already reasonable) normal price. All you have to do is enter the discount code “BlackXmas2018” at checkout and your tab will be magically cut in half.

The selection below is only a very tiny sliver of what’s for sale at Westgategallery.com.
 

‘Multiple Maniacs’ poster on sale at Westgate Gallery
 

Grave of the Vampire’ aka ‘Seed of Terror’  (USA, 1972)
 

The Pit’ aka ‘Teddy’ (Canada, 1981)
 

‘Andy Warhol’s Dracula’ poster for sale at Westgate Gallery
 

Rare Japanese ‘Sisters’ poster for sale at Westgate Gallery
 
Many, many, more marvellous movie posters, after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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12.05.2018
10:38 am
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