This used to be the homepage image for my website. This is the pre-blog era and probably goes back a dozen years or more. Clearly I was still under some Fin De Siecle influences at the time. I was trying to distance myself from the “fanbase” I’d attracted during my 15 Minutes of Fame after the Metal Hammer exposure, a collection of madmen (and women) who wanted zine covers, tattoo designs of their naked girlfriends and suchlike. I used to get emails along the lines of “You rock, dude!”and because my postal address was out there in the ether I sometimes got sent what can only be described as “weird shit.” Badly-scratched Cramps albums, empty fag packets, subscriptions to the Jesus Army newsletter and, most notably, a used condom. Not anymore though.
Regular readers will know that I’m an admirer of the work of George Shaw. At times that admiration has bordered on obsession, but there really can be no overstating the impact of his work when I first saw it in 2008. I’ve been influenced by artists before – John Buscema, Kev O’Neill, Frank Miller, Geof Darrow, Coop, and many more – but seeing George’s paintings for the first time completely blew my mind and changed forever my artistic ambitions. In recent weeks I’ve forced myself to revisit my old influences in order to stir dormant engines for the completion of the Streetmeat 20th Anniversary book, but now that I’m stuck with the chore of scanning the original art and pulling all the material together, my restless creative mind is seeking stimulus elsewhere. How timely then that news should emerge of Wilkinson Gallery hosting a new exhibition of George’s work – The Last Days Of Belief – opening 29 May and running until 12 July. It’s not been officially announced yet, but I’m already planning my Megabus daytrip.
I still laugh whenever I see this. “I painted that?!?” The title came from my old mate Derek Gray, who once planned to use it for a “deliberatly shit” comic. By the end of the 1990’s, after years crawling through the sewers of the British comics small press, we were bitter and twisted men, seeking venegeance through a systematic deconstruction of the craft and artistry of the comics medium. The drawings would be intentionally bad, the scripts would be painfully sincere and utterly crass, and somehow this would show “them”. Quite what it would show “them” we were never sure, but it led to some amusing exchanges. I remember writing a script as if from the viewpoint of a sensitive young poet still coming to terms with the death of Kurt Cobain. It was the kind of shit you can now expect to see in an Indie-by-numbers Sundance film, but I’d really tried my best to make it awful – but perhaps not as awful as this painting, which was probably me trying to emulate the freaky horror novel covers of the 1960’s. Let’s put it this way, if I saw a book with this on the cover, I would at the very least pick it up, which is what an effective cover is supposed to do. It won’t surprise regular readers to learn that this painting has long since been destroyed, buried under another painting that probably also got destroyed.
Sometime around 2001-2 I was approached by Metal Hammer magazine to illustrate the tour brochure for Slipknot’s UK tour. It was one of the biggest of the very few professional commissions I’ve ever had. I drew the whole thing during a week off sick from work, doing the basic illos on A4 copier paper, scanning and then colouring/manipulating in the same version of Photoshop 5.0 that I use to this day.There was no brief to speak of, so I decided to treat each illo as if it were the cover of a comic. As far as I can recall, there was no editorial interference, they used virtually all the art I produced, and I think I even got paid.
Another 2010 painting from the Altar series. This changed so many times from the original version that the layers of paint made the thing so thick and heavy you could use it as a riot shield. After week of full-on artistic kampf, the finished image seemed to come out of nowhere, and experience has taught me that when an artist can surprise themselves, it usually means what they’ve done is important, even if only to them. As with Akuma No Kuma, this sold within days of my posting it online. It currently hangs on a wall, somewhere in Scotland.
Boris & SunnO))) – Her Lips Were Wet With Venom
Between 2005-7 I worked with Martin Jones on Saturn In Retrograde, a true crime anthology of articles about crimes infamous and otherwise from the media-enshrined ‘golden era’ of the mid-1960’s to mid-1970’s. I wrote two of the articles (Altamont & the Manson Family/Zodiac murders respectively) and illustrated the book, with a full-colour cover, a full-page poster for each chapter and several internal illustrations including the one above, which would have been the frontispiece and promotional logo. The finished book was submitted to a publisher several years ago but has never seen light of day and now probably never will. A lot of wasted effort there, which is the story of much of my creative life. In future posts I’ll share more of the artwork from the book.
This dates back to around 2011-12. I was trying to channel the spirit of William Blake at the time (I know, I know…) but did not realise that such an endeavour requires more than just nicking from one of his best paintings. That said, the end result turned out alright. I ended up posting it (unrequested, of course) to Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie. I’ve no idea if they ever gor it, nor what they might have made of it, but I do know if it had stayed in the house I would have eventually painted over it.