Tag Archives: jazz

Pushing the boundaries of comics with Igor Goldkind and Al Davison

10 Apr

advance-review-pdf-of-is-she-available_page_451

I am about to embark on such a day-and-night month of work that it would turn a lesser man into a gibbering loon, so blog posts will be few and far between. But before I scale the Cliffs of Insanity, I’d like to bring to your attention two fascinating projects from auld acquaintances on the comics scene.

First up, Igor Goldkind.  Igor was the silver-tongued PR for Forbidden Planet and Titan Books back in the days when editors insisted on writing the headline: “Biff! Baff! Pow! Comics Are Growing Up!” (Sometimes they still do.) He it was who popularised the term “graphic novel” in order to make national newspaper critics feel they were not soiling their hands in writing about Watchmen, Dark Knight or Maus; he who introduced Wendy James of Transvision Vamp to Alan Moore’s works, leading to her single Hanging Out With Halo Jones – and to a weird afternoon I spent in the then notorious comics haunt Bar Munchen hanging out with Igor, the diminutive popstrel Wendy, and two incongruously vast and hulking Easter Island-type bodyguards.

But I digress.

Igor has now turned poet. But rather than release a slim, elegant, and easily overlooked booklet of verse, he has challenged himself to push the boundaries of what an enhanced ebook can do in order to house his whirling words. Is She Available? is a comic, in the way that a film is a book. In other words, it’s not a comic at all, though it does feature illustrations by 26 luminaries including Bill Sienkiewicz, Glenn Fabry, David Lloyd and Liam Sharp. Some of the illustrations move, in semi-animated style. Some of the poems speak to you – literally – in Igor’s own voice. Some are set to avant-garde jazz music by Gilad Atzmon. The whole thing is designed by the Don of Font, Rian Hughes, whose typographical word-sculptures make an extraordinary complement to the poetry.

Pretentious? Certainly. If it’s pretentious to dare reach for the stars, when you could so easily settle for a poet’s garret. It’s really quite an extraordinary thing. You can download Is She Available?, published by Chameleon, for $9.99 at http://is-she-available.com/. The full range of features is currently available only on iOS devices – iPad, iPhone or Macs – though a Windows-compatible version is in the pipeline.

A large panel from Muscle Memory by Al Davison

A large panel from Muscle Memory by Al Davison

And secondly, Al Davison. Al is an extraordinary man. His graphic novel memoir of growing up with spina bifida, Spiral Cage, and his reboot of the Theseus myth told from the point of view of the monster, The Minotaur’s Tale, are two of the finest works in the comics field. Having been told he would never walk, he became a karate black belt and martial arts instructor. Now more often confined to a wheelchair, he is working on a searing sequel to Spiral Cage, supported through Patreon, about his childhood, including how his father tried, repeatedly, to kill him as a toddler.

You can read the story so far, free online, here.

But if you’re near Coventry, go see for yourself. This Saturday, Urban Coffee Co at Fargo Village, Coventry is hosting the live event Muscle Memory: The Instant Retrospective Exhibition, 5.30-8pm. Painting live, Al Davison will also be telling stories of his life while the audience can bid for each work in a simultaneous live auction. After that, the completed exhibition will run for four weeks.

In the psychiatrist’s chair: six revelations from David Lynch (interview part four)

29 Jan

David-Lynch

What follows is self-contained, but there’s more good stuff to the interview. Click the links to read parts one, two, and three, or for a review of his current photography exhibition.

Despite the recurrent obsessions on display in his patently f***ed-up films, David Lynch has never undergone psychoanalysis. “I went one time,” he explains, “and I asked him if it might affect my creativity. And he said, ‘David, I have to be honest with you, it could.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m happy to meet you, but I have to go.’”

I tell him that in that case I’m going to play psychiatrist, right here in this Paris hotel suite. I’m going to give him six words – connected with key imagery from his films – and he has to tell me the first thing that comes into his head for each. Surprisingly, Lynch agrees. The results are strangely revealing…

fire

1. “Fire.” I’m thinking of Lynch’s trademark close-ups of cigarettes (above); the blaze that haunts Wild At Heart; the burning cabin in Lost Highway; the very title Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. But what’s Lynch thinking? Fifteen seconds elapse.

“Well, it’s… It’s kinda…. It means different things in different situations. When I just think about fire, it’s so pure, I don’t think about anything else.” And then, shockingly: “When you said it, I was picturing being in it.”

Your first student short was of heads throwing up and catching fire, I add. “It was the reverse, actually. But the elements water, earth, air and fire, it’s no accident that we really like those things, and things get reduced down… Fire is so magical. There’s a texture to it that occurs nowhere else. And controlling something like that… It wants to get bigger if it can, and then you’re very worried that one will go out! With me, I always think about magic, the unexplainable.”

jazz

2. “Jazz.” Lynch works very closely with his composers, though it must be said, Bill Pullman in Lost Highway (above) is the least plausible jazz saxophonist ever seen. There’s hardly any pause this time: “Freedom. It’s like no constraints, an opening, and then barriers going away and lifting and breaking and experimentation and… it’s like attempting for something.”

brain 3. “The brain.” Each Lynch film out-grosses the last on brain injuries; in Eraserhead the hero’s head is made into pencils; The Elephant Man is killed in his sleep through the sheer weight of his head; Blue Velvet has the shot cop briefly still standing, brains exposed, like a faulty electrical appliance; in Wild At Heart Sherilyn Fenn wanders about in shock after a car crash, holding her brain into her cracked skull (left), while asking if anyone’s seen her hairbrush; Lost Highway tops the lot by burying a glass coffee table in a man’s cranium.

“Well, um…” Nineteen seconds go by. I wait. Then: “The brain is just like a plate but the nervous system and the mind is, ah….” Fully 27 seconds of silence as he furrows his brow comically like a boy at examination time. “It’s the thing that traps us and ultimately frees you.”

bed

4. “The bed.” In The Grandmother, Lynch’s best early short, a lonely boy grows a grandmother from a plant on his bed, on which she later dies; Wild At Heart contains a number of heroic sex scenes (above). Complete silence for 48 seconds. What part of “first thing to come into your head” does he not understand? Then Lynch giggles like a schoolboy to whom one has whispered the word “sex”. “It’s sort of like… A bed is used for many things, but it really is a closeness to death.” Pause. “And birth, too.”

red curtains5. “Red curtains.” I’m thinking of the afterlife/limbo of Twin Peaks (left); how in Lost Highway the camera moves over red curtains like a spaceship exploring a strange planet. Immediate response. “Curtains are both hiding and revealing. Sometimes it’s so beautiful that they’re hiding, it gets your imagination going. But in the theatre, when the curtains open, you have this fantastic euphoria, that you’re going to see something new, something will be revealed.”

outside

6. “The outside.” This is where Jeffrey finds the severed ear in Blue Velvet; the woods are where all the weirdness happen in Twin Peaks (above); there’s the Lost Highway itself. I tell Lynch I’ve read that he was terrified of the outdoors as a child. Immediate response. “Right, I did have a period of that. I really like captured space. Even great vistas are okay because I see some edge. But the word ‘outside’, it’s uh, too random. I lose a bit of control with that word.”

And yet your dad worked for the Department of Agriculture. “My father was a woodsman, yes. And wood has played a huge role in my life. So I like building things out of wood, I like chainsawing, I like the smell of the wood, I like the look of a tree, particularly my father’s favourite tree which was the Ponderosa Pine. The wood is… everything all the fairy tales made you feel.”