But Now by God, it ROARS!
You might remember the name Tom Neely for his whimsical tribute to punk rock’s most famous gay couple, Glenn Danzig and Henry Rollins. Neely’s Glenn and Henry Forever, which came out in 2010, received a positive notice from Rollins (“if I were to find that anything less than hilarious, then I am in the wrong business”) but from Danzig, not so much (“I didn’t think it was very funny ... it was a very crappy, opportunistic book”).
In Pasadena during all of September, there was an intriguing exhibition that documented, quite unusually, the failure of an artistic project. Birds of Death presented the art that Neely had generated for a comix adaptation of Nick Cave’s first novel And the Ass Saw the Angel. Unfortunately, after being approached to undertake the work (and after Neely had spent considerable time and effort creating images for the graphic novel), he discovered that the rights to Cave’s novel had not been “properly secured,” which meant that Neely would not be able to produce an authorized adaptation of And the Ass Saw the Angel after all.
Bummer! As the notes to the show explain, the bleak and haunting series of images “allows an abstract interpretation” of not just Cave’s book but also “Neely’s disappointment in the circumstances surrounding the project.”
Published in 1989—right on the heels of Tender Prey—And the Ass Saw the Angel was (and is) as Cave-ian as they come, as you can see yourself from the images. The book covers bleak and doomy life of Euchrid Eucrow, the self-styled “Monarch of Doghead” in Australia’s (fictional, I think) Ukulore Valley. The book sounds a bit overcooked—one review called it a “messianic, overheated tirade” (the review was not actually negative) while another referenced the “clotted, gutsy prose which ranges from poetic to rabid”—and Cave actually cut a lot of the purple prose for a 20th-anniversary edition that came out in 2009.
According to the gallery website, some of the images are still available for purchase.
One Full Quarter
These Sly Corbies Are Birds of Death
Past the Smoldering Cane
Where Women Mourn
With Breasts Bruised Black and Knuckles Bleeding
Here We Dip and Dive beyond Tall Trees
Ah Can Hear Them Comin
Cutting a Circle into a Bruised and Troubled Sky
They Have Shadowed Me all Mah Life
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Odd comic: Henry & Glenn Forever