Friday, May 31, 2019

tenth space opera tale 20 years on...

In June 1999's "tale from universe" character Mike Weller meets his author Michael John Weller.

"Not seeing is disbelieving, Michael. Seeing is believing."

And so says one of Weller's arresting officers—psychologist character Doctor Alison Lines, created by MJ for his novel The Man Who Drew Too Much. The novel, the third in a triology written by author "MJ" featuring his character Mike is set in a near future authoritarian-populist New Communist Society where unemployment is against the law and scribbling sci-fi fanzines no occupation for a grown man. In sublime contradiction, New Communist reality is made up by MJ, a snooty right-wing  author known for writing prize-winning literary novels. Mike Weller, a left-wing militant working-class character MJ Weller has created, claims he is the real author of his own destiny pleading "MJ" wouldn't exist at all if it wasn't for Mike himself. Mike writes "MJ" up, not the other way round.

An extract from MJ's novel is reproduced in Space Opera. In contrast to Mike Weller writing his stories on a borrowed electronic typewriter, author MJ's paperback novel is written in sanserif font with a keyline indicating it has been borrowed to appear in Mike Weller's Space Opera comic.

Written on his electronic typewriter, post-graduate Weller's dissertation  on Cliff Richard—"Dynamite" is rejected by South-East London Polytechnic Department of Cultural and Media Studies. His own efforts to be a legitimate writer fail in the progressive New Reality of populist Left authoritarianism. The rejected essay appears in the opening pages of June 1999's "tale from universe". Using his skills as an illustrator Mike Weller draws self-portrait-in-progress kinda study of character Mike Weller at an empoyment service tribunal, arrested with dreamlike Chuck Berryish caution "on charges of unemployment" at a south London  bus stop by three ominous characters. His own made-up MJ, Dr Alison Lines and triple-agent Pin-Eyed Ferryman—invented by Mike's old Mogul Studio boss Eduard Mogilowski over 65 years before. MJ seems to know more about Mike Weller's imaginative life than Mike knows himself. "The omniscient author takes possession of his character" is the last frame in illustrated 'Mike Weller's Progress' series.

Character Mike Weller meets his author Michael John Weller though Space Opera's pages and everything is altered. MJ's novel closes with his character Mike interrogated and assessed at a south London Kid Doctor Clinic (KDC)—part of an outsourced commercial health chain operated by the Marxist-Engelsian state and the Earth Corporation. Or so MJ's paranoid character believes after his author introduces himself to Weller in the novel. Characters Pin-Eyed Ferryman and Doctor Lines put Mike through intensive and exhaustive questions and examinations which are closely observed and noted by literary surgeon-general MJ. 

Using his available electronic typewriter, and using his own words, Mike Weller adopts the stance of writer describing his own experience of a crucifying "near-life experience" alteration in the hands of MJ and his one-stop KDC creations. In response, a serif fonted-text is written in SO#10 by author Michael John Weller describing his own upbringing, education, and career as writer: and how the character Mike Weller emerged and developed through three successful novels. Towards the end of this extract there are signs MJ and Mike Weller are the same character and Space Opera is in reality an illustrated autobiography and not a novel by an author named MJ.

Responding to MJ's intervention, Mike takes out the electronic typewriter again to describe his meeting with his own author. In the resulting dialogue it appears the only thing separating writer and written is not just social and political—there is a spiritual dimension. Twenty years on, this is more Earth Corporation "nu-wellerness" than Marxist old-skool religion "spirit of spiritless conditions" conversation. Both writer and written are Altered by Space Opera beginning as a small press comic book pamphlet series may turn into an illustrated "tetraology" if or when Mike Weller is able to cast the correct spell his words and pictures take.

note: this post is also testing @HomeBaked's digital blog

Thursday, February 28, 2019

ninth space opera tale 20 years on...

March 1999's tale 'The Man Who Drew Too Much' is the pamphlet that went against Mike Weller's idea of upsetting an underground comics ethos with superhero characters 'fighting across generations in space and time'. What or whom was altering Mike Weller's twenty-first century Cosmic Crusaders storybook plan for his own written and illustrated small press comic series?

Within Space Opera's The Man Who Drew Too Much is an imagined yet conventional twentieth century English paperback novel written by Mike Weller's conservative-leaning character M. J. Weller. A third novel in an imagined trilogy featuring MJ's nemesis—a miitant socialist character also named Mike Weller.

In fiction-within-fiction-within-fiction, far left anticapitalist character Mike Weller goes to South East Polytechnic to study culture and media after responding to an advert in a 1980 NME.  As a newly graduated mature student this Mike Weller plans to continue study in the New Communist society.  A reconstructed society like modern China based on a regulated Marxist-Engelsian state combined with an outsourcing Earth Corporation free market in cheap goods and services including health, education, leisure, precarious work, and pleasure. MJ's Mike character works as low level local state bureaucrat for the GLC after graduating with a modest degree. His former occupation as failed commercial artist is erased after drawing too many scurrilous cartoons depicting the political system he imagines he lives in ("the marriage of heaven and hell"). Weller loses his GLC-funded community coordinator job after Bromley's incumbent Conservative Council lead a campaign to abolish London's new local state. An academic career is also eliminated after Weller fails to obtain a post-graduate degree at polytechnic after handing in a dissertation entitled 'Aesthetic and Ideological Representations of Cliff Richard in Popular Culture'.  

Mike Weller's Space Opera number nine opens with a 1986 extract from his fictional author M. J. Weller's Earth Corporation Entertainments obituary for Ed Mogul (Eduard Mogilowski) in which Mogil's life as young communist, Cosmic Crusaders creator, RAF serviceman, successful mass publisher before an humiliating prosecution for obscenity (he published and printed illustrations by his jobbing artist "Gatch"). Character Mike Weller's  introduction and progress at Mogul Studios (as Weller knew Eddie Mogul in the 1960s) are detailed, as is work depicting the style of other Cosmic Crusaders' illustrators—Gatch, Sid Muddleton and Nick Muir.

Life of Mogil is followed by an Austin Spear-esque comic strip visualizing how "Gatch" (Weller's artist spirit-guiding character Graham Cratchett) illustrates. "Cratchett" is drawn over four pages in nullimaginative style featuring cartoon apparitions with balloon captions in shaded lettering befitting a benign mind-planter—followed by a page of Mogilowski's 1928 tale of angel-children Seraphim, Cherubim; and appointment of Mogil's original character Pin-Eyed Ferryman as special agent located on Earth: Ferryman moving as secret agent between this world and the otherworld; painstakingly copied in hand-lettering, and illustrated by Mike Weller, in spirit-guide Cratchett's black & white style. 

A three-page comic-strip featuring Ferryman, Seraphim and Cherubim follows in nullimaginative drawing style ending with double-page "The Virtuous Angels Of Musical Eternity".

On Earth, in Mike Weller's Space Opera, the mode of music changes in social and political reality.  Spooks are at work. 'The Man Who Drew Too Much' is also the last issue of Space Opera to engage with 1990s' alternative comics, sci-fi fanzines and Weller's graphic novel ambitions. Contact with the work of real life London writers and alt-poets including UK's Iain Sinclair-led psychogeographic conductors of chaos give licence to MJ, permitting him to author a new writer of a different Mike Weller. Comic artists, cartooning Mike Weller of the late 20th century and his graphic novelist and illustrator peers become them not us. Weller pretends to draw in the style of several illustrators known for upgrading the status of comic books—inventing composite character 'Nick Muir'. Weller brings Nick Muir to life. A Nick Muir invented by MJ just to ridicule a paranoid looney left cartoon character named Mike Weller. 

Three of the Wellers, along with Nick Muir, are Michael John Weller's characters. And so is Mike Weller's Jobshop advisor 'Mr Elmaz' in a 1999 Space Opera tale. Weller is a good enough illustrator to make a detailed study of  character Nick Muir's artistic development over several years as he tracks through Space Opera Muir's early drawing style influenced by "Gatch". A further MJ character "Sid Muddleton", Mogul's friend, art director, production manager—yet pedestrian illustrator—reinvented Cosmic Crusaders for comic strip adventures in 1961 as the Teenbeat Marvelettes. Nick Muir took over "Teenbeat Marvelettes" comic work for Ed Mogul's music and comic-book publications beginning 1962 finishing in 1969.  Mogul's commercial artists and several of their selected comic strips over the years are illustrated by Mike Weller pretending to draw as "Gatch", "Sid Muddleton", "Nick Muir", and as Weller "himself" in this ninth "tale from wellerverse".

The pamphlet finishes with a hand-lettered page and explanatory. There are four Mike Wellers in different spatial realities. Michael John Weller is the artist, writer and designer of the opera. And author of the libretto. But number nine is also an issue when music stopped as background to reading/viewing space opera. Partly due to increasing use of easy listening pop as continuous waiting-in-line government telephone holds and reported use of loud heavy metal as a military interrogation weapon. A soundtrack of continuous death metal, drill and two-minutes-to-midnight global climate catastrophe with hypertensive nuclear weaponization drumrolls. The new abnormal. A doomsday clock tick-tock, tock-ticking away like twelve-tone serial noise. Space Opera's soundtrack turns into a docu-track of cartoon re-scribbles.

Everything once drawn is changed for a sinister, spurious, tawdry Glory Glory Glory Temple built to celebrate the new millennium on an island of a hundred million nightmares.

note: a slightly extended version of this post is testing @HomeBaked's digital blog

Saturday, December 01, 2018

eighth space opera tale 20 years on...

The second Space Opera comic with "Cliff" in its title. MJ's graphic novelist character 'Nick Muir' writes and draws an interactive electronic novel about a cartoon character named 'Mike Weller' and his obsession with Cliff Richard. Nick Muir uses  the form of a video game designed to be played on nine levels in an arts lab of the mind.

Vinyl LP's Cliff, Cliff Sings and Listen to Cliff! have the most beautiful homoerotic record covers an early years' teenage boy could wish for. Top on birthday and xmas wish lists and worth working a paper round to save up for. All three covers are photographed by surrealist Angus McBean; and all recorded at EMI's Abbey Road studios. Cliff was 20th century UK king of pop. Old standards and brand new wired-for-sound commercial innovations. 'Evergreen Tree' an aria on an imagined Space Opera soundtrack.

Cliff had looks and hair to die for. A gay icon. In a forgotten tv documentary on lesbian life in London a woman declares that in her clubbing community it was impossible to believe Cliff was not female.

Cliff Richard represents entertainment media change and continuity over sixty years. In the 20th century it was rock 'n' roll bad boy rebels Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, John Lennon who got in trouble with the law. In the 21st century it is pop's Jesus-loving 'Bachelor Boy' in the courtroom. And like Lenny Bruce at the end of his career switching his routine from comedy to legals: Cliff's similar destiny has been to switch (albeit against his known performance intentions) from light entertainer to catalyst of debates on privacy laws and freedom of speech issues. In 60 years it seems public service institutions like the police and BBC have slowly absorbed sixties countercultures into a mainstream media left-progressive establishment with the intention of turning conservative millionnaire Cliff into the 'Bad Boy' of an old Brit-schooled national Socialist era Marty Wilde track. Cliff on the edge of a cliff just like Brits' Dis-united kingdom at the end of 2018: and the planet's entire ecosystem at the end of humanity's time on Earth.

Yet Ciiff Richard  has been a non-conforming and unknowing conduit, by chance or weird design, of  unusual themes for pop songs. Themes more associated with genres like death metal or drill. Voodoo in 'Livin' Doll', satanism in 'Devil Woman', prostitution in 'There's A Honky Tonk Angel' and top-of-the-pops explorations of radical transfeminism in 'Goodbye Sam, Hello Samantha'.

December 1998's 'tale from wellerverse' is unseasonal. A documented Mike Weller cartoon-poem/video game told on nine levels with two optional endings— 

Goodbye Cliff, Hello Mike—or Hello Mike, Goodbye Cliff—no full stop

note: this post is also testing @HomeBaked's digital blog

Saturday, September 01, 2018

seventh space opera tale 20 years on...

My life has been written.
   Different scripts were submitted to the Divine Producer before I was born.

A return to white stock card for this September 1998 cover and only two pages of explanatory prose at beginning and end of author-illustrator Michael John Weller's picture story 'Island of Dreams'. Mike Weller's alterity is reduced mostly to two cartoon selves for this "tale from wellerverse". Two visual artists with a difference of extremes. One with conspiracy theory paranoia. The other with illusions of transcendental grandeur.

The issue opens with a full page comic strip entitled "Mike Weller's Recurrent Dream Between 1949-50". A divine yet buxom angel arrives in a small child's sleep to take him from his English Raymond Briggs-esque suburb, to sail through the stars on a Wing into the upper nebula, the Empyrean Rose outside Earth's solar system. There in the Celestial City, on a mysterious island, astral Mike is introduced by the angel to seven figures speaking in nullimaginatively shaded cartoon bubbles. Drawn in black and white, illustrator Michael John Weller's silent comic art is only broken by one question the small Mike-child, detached from its sleeping self, anxiously asks: YOU WILL BRING ME BACK?

This one-page comic strip based on a pre-school infant's recurrent dream that acted as inspiration for Mike Weller's Space Opera read through artist and writer characters Graham Cratchett and Eduard Mogilowski's "Cosmic Tales" of made-up legend. Weller's comic strip 'Island of Dreams' was first printed in Oxford Caption's 1997 comic book anthology Superstate Funnies. In the mid-2000s the artwork was greatly enlarged as an exhibition print-on-demand image for sale by the art group.

In one of Mike Weller's alternative fictions included in issue #7—alter-ego cartoonist creation Captain Stelling, commander of spaceship "Island of Dreams" (docked in white horse country), invites Mike aboard to escape 1998's Realists. Cap takes Mike through memories of his early life; returning lost selves from 50ies childhood to 60ies youth, read as a comic book drawn from pop's political youth culture of 70ies anarchy and 80ies MTV. And a close up of all-saints-spiced-up girl-powered late 90ies. Here three contemporary versions of Mike Weller appear together as caricatures in a strip-cartoon. The writer, the artist-illustrator, and author-librettist of his own Space Opera.

A 1972 end-picture by 'Stelling', drawn as fictional creation for equally fictional Eddie Mogul's Record Fun mag, shows a 1950s eggman John Lennon cartoon egging a Blue Meanie on to "kill the Beatles". In this story, 'All You Need is Love' turns into a murderous anthem of hate by New Dreamers starting with Lennon's own assassination as "Just John". New Dreaming "Jihardi Beatles" nurtured and fed from a 1960ies counter-culture gone horribly wrong.

In despair Mike fears he's lost the plot. EVERYBODY LIKES ABBA says Cap as DJ Stelling plays Abba on his spaceship dock. Weller's cartoon changes into serious social realist sketching of telepathic dialogue between Mike and doppleganger Bromley writer-in-residence MJ set in an alternative 1995. Abba's song 'Nina, Pretty Ballerina' is imagined on Space Opera's soundtrack in cartoon-style WOOHAH WOOHAH WOOHAH for the back cover.

Weller is transformed into Edward Mogil story teller.

A hand drawn poetry cartoon closes the tale: JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF MYSELF

As twenty-first cenury title, 'Island of Dreams ' also appears as inspiration for Felix Dennis's poems inspired by Mustique; and Dan Boothby's homage to an inspiration powered by Gavin Maxwell's mysterious Brigadoonish otterworld island in the Scottish Highlands.

For Mike Weller, Dusty's brother Tom Springfield (Dionyius O'Brien)'s beautiful song 'Island of Dreams' is the theme for issue 7 of Space Opera. A Springfields 1961 track imagined as soundtracked aria.

September 1998's island of dreams turning into a hundred million island(s) of dreams 20 years later.  

note: this post is also testing @HomeBaked's digital blog

Friday, June 01, 2018

sixth space opera tale 20 years on...

Fear and Loving in South London—author MJ writes about his Mike Weller character in this June 1998 pamphlet

In Weller's miserable, charmless life, old colleague Nick Muir is ghost writing Weller's fate for the Earth Corporation. An unhappy, paranoid life is planned by Realists for no-hoper Weller [...] But help is on its way in the shape of Weller's own creation from days gone by—Captain Stelling: plus Zoe Zephyr as Visionary Muse, and Jack Echo, as head of the Island of Dreams.

'Ghost Writers in the Sky' was the only Space Opera ‘tale from wellerverse’ pamphlet cover to be printed on cream card because Bob Cobbing’s New River Project ran out of white card stock.

SO #6 opens on page 132 of what appears to be an anonymous graphic novel entitled ‘Space Opera’, seemingly published within pagination of the Space Opera comic series. It depicts Mike Weller's Angel-Woman of Powers drawn visiting Earth as in earlier tales, art pen drawn in the process of writing on the pages of an odd spiral-bound book. A volume of indecipherable lettering floating in panels of abstract lines. Could this be 'Codex Sporious' or even 'Codex Sporangiolum' in the making? The entire page appears in to be incomplete. Somehow caught in the middle.

The tale is almost soundtracked to Halfway to Paradise hallucinated as 'Prefab' pop star Billy Fury singing a Space Opera beat generation ballad as an aria. 'Ghost Writers in the Sky's first comic-book page is followed by more pages of Mike Weller’s fictional autobiography continued from earlier Space Opera instalments typed on a borrowed electronic typewriter. Next is tale-within-tale ‘Sexton-Doyen of Detectives’ originally drawn by MJ’s graphic novelist character Nick Muir depicted by illustrator Mike Weller here as a crudely abridged hand-lettered cartoon story. Things are cracking up and so is Mike Weller.

Weller asserts it is he who has ghost written, not only the tale, but character Nick Muir, blaming Earth Corporation “mind-pickers” for invading his mind and hi-jacking visionary inspiration delivered by spirited "mind-planters" on forgotten unseen pages— one of which is illustrated in strike-thru hand-lettering and graphics. In Mike Weller’s extreme take on poplit, Sexton Blake and Tinker are gender transitioned as nonbinaries She-Bob and Shadow Micheal. Two imagined childhood friends of Weller returning to help him write and draw comics by enabling the creation of comic-book heroine Zoe Zephyr and Earth Corporation supervillain Ergot Subslime for made-up Edward Mogil's publications done as a Nick Muir parody in a crazed attempt to prove Mike Weller is the author of Muir and not his writer-in-residence MJ.

'The Tale of Ergot Subslime' is a second Space Opera tale-within-tale hand-lettered and drawn by Mike Weller's paranoid sci-fi alterity written as a psychotic episode. Believing MJ has deliberately authored fictional gaphic novelist and new age auteur Nick Muir to write and draw Weller as failed employee at Mogul Studios in 1969. Back when Weller was Muir's lettering artist and junior.

Mike Weller gets his own back by going further than 'Sexton-Doyen of Detectives'' satire. He re-writes and re-draws Muir's famous Agent 69 comics featuring Zoe Zephyr in a mad cartoon story where Zoe battles Ergot Subslime. Hallucinatory black and white picures suggest the illustrator is taking a fictional hallucinogen of his own chemical makeup for this tale—agamo.

Following this a written text by author Michael John Weller describing Mike Weller's fragmented history as poet and commercial artist. The story of an individual dividing into three conflicted selves as near future battleground for, and between, Earth Corporation (controllers of New Reality): murderous New Dreamers ('jihadi beatles'), visionary Old Dreamers (new fab four—Wills, Kate, Harry, Meghan). Weller's text here is author-illustrated.

A closing comic strip illustrates Mike Weller's psychotic breakdown when his old underground comic artist alter-ego Captain Stelling springs to hallucinatory life from the page as superhero cartoon Goliath, only to taunt his creator for squandering a destiny even more notable than his old cartooning colleague Nick Muir. Stelling accuses his cartoonist-creator of turning into a leftwing loony. A committee-led, welfare fed, unpaid underclass tenant at Sinkmoor Penge—cloning into yet another Mike Weller cartoon character. An unemployed so-called "activist" living on state-paid social security. A hideously new caricature of an existing cartoon caricature. A spoilt baby boomer at worst—a human Earth Corporation production destined for voluntary local community work. A human being expressing international solidarity with the wretched of social reality earthtime at best.

These Mike Weller characters have been driven insane by assorted quadrophrenic "mind pickers" and "mind planters" possessing and inspiring him through shaded or obscured black pen drawn ink lines. A psychotic reaction (Count Five's punk aria imagined on Space Opera's soundtrack) to this dark world driven by comic fantasy's Duke of Hell located on an extremely paranoid island of near-future filmic nightmares.

At the end of 'Ghost Writers in the Sky' Mike Weller, responding to his earlier alter ego, cartoonist Stelling, and his later alter ego, author MJ, scribbles and illustrates breakthrough: entry into a more charmed and happy existence ruled by comic fantasy's Agent 69 through psychic ghost-wrting MJ's character Nick Muir as graphic novelist in an off-white card-covered space opera sci-fi comic fanzine entitled "Ghost Writers in the Sky".

note: a shorter version of this post is testing@HomeBaked's digital blog 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

fifth "safe space" opera tale 20 years on...

First of two "tales from wellerverse" with Cliff in title.

'Cliff Sings' is a graphic novel supposedly written and drawn by MJ's graphic novelist character Nick Muir and published in parallel typeset pagination within Space Opera.

At this stage of the tale paranoid Earth Corporation conspiracy theorist, sci-fi comic-book fanatic Mike Weller alterity, is cartooned into a sub-character by writer-in-residence MJ using the author’s made-up graphic novelist Muir. To add insult to injury “Cliff Sings” is designed as an extended comic strip by Muir satirising his sub-character for the first half of SO #5.

The second half is an unpaginated comic strip 'Comics Off Course!' written and drawn by Mike Weller's comic artist alterity, illustrating his own graphic novel aspirations, in an effort to match the comics of MJ's Muir. Joining four other amateur cartoonists (character Weller's own new Cosmic Crusaders characters Elaine Clark, Rebecca Schwaffer, Peter Piggott, Hussain Elmaz ) at a London Art College evening class taught by Weller's older Pop Lab publications' invention, Glenford Gates.

The fabulous four's superhero identities are revealed in a dream through the class's own drawings of their favourite comic book characters. Mike chooses Cliff to draw in his dream, provoked by Peter Piggott's joking comment that character Mike Weller looks like the veteran pop singer.

A "theme for a dream" that dominates later "tales from wellerverse" beyond SO #5 into the 21st century. A time when Cliff Richard is italicised forever after accusations of sexual abuse; when hashtags symbolise the emergent call-out culture; and old-fashioned numerical and typographical insert space signage is suppressed on waking by #MeToo, #Time(no apostrophe)sUp, #FuckOffFrankenstein—

 The new millenium's Cosmic Crusaders are drawn by letterer and illustrator Weller.

The last pages of SO #5 are made up of illustrator Mike Weller's strip-cartoon storytelling and a typed continuation of his autobiography continued from 'The Battle for Heaven Part 1'.

note: this post is also testing @HomeBaked's digital blog

Saturday, December 02, 2017

fourth space opera tale 20 years on...

One by one, demons and monsters from depths of Hell's City of Dis emerge from the underworld of the other.

Opening with hand-drawn lettering, December 1997's "tale from wellerverse" completes 'The Battle for Heaven' (see SO #3 post).

Although continuing for another two years as 'comic book series' with two more seasonal editions, Weller was more engaged with poetry and poetics than comic books and it was beginning to show. Unlike character MJ's creation "Nick Muir", his "Mike Weller" character wasn't a graphic novelist.

Number 4 is mostly dark, dense, electronically-fonted prose punctuated by vivid black and white illustration with introduction of Weller's fantastical "nullimaginative techniques" obscuring and erasing both word-processed and hand-lettered text. Number four rolled nicely off New River Project's photo-copier with Bob Cobbing commenting "the machine likes it".

In 2012 a "nullimaginative" drawing from number 4 was sampled by Mike for Michael Weller's 'Ida Lupino comix'. Both sides of the zine were re-printed from Mike Weller's Space Opera—for English PEN's Catechism: Poems for Pussy Riot with introduction by poet George Szirtes.

A Space Opera fragment alchemized into poetic gold.

Pixellated into almost total illegibility—getting an unreadable piece into a PEN poetry anthology seemed as if one minor battle had been won., sort of.

Like Mogilowski's xmas edition in the Thirties, 'The Battle' ends on festive note—

Professor Fergus McQuigly was eating his xmas dinner in the restaurant of Croydon Airport, fork hoisting a sage and onion stuffing ball into his mouth, crumbs dropping into his beard.

Hark, the herald angels sing

note: this post is also testing @HomeBaked's digital blog