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

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

re/active living return with ghosts in corridor

Bill Griffiths wearing 10-year-old prop-prayer wings + other elephants at the Xing art lab

Monday, September 04, 2017

third space opera tale 20 years on...

"In the Otherworld, eternal war rages between God and Satan. Edward Mogil always began his Cosmic Crusaders stories in this fashion in 1930's and 1940's Cosmic Tales."

So opens September 1997's "tales from wellerverse" pamphlet -- Space Opera's repeated refrain from issue one. A comic ready-printed for a nation-state gripped in a strange mix of republicanism and religiosity at death of much loved princess-goddess Diana.

Written and drawn by Mike Weller, his made-up illustrated adventure tale (supposedly from 1934) is accredited to Jewish pulp writer Edward Mogil and fictional co-creator Graham "Gatch" Cratchett—gentile Catholic futurist artist-turned-cartoonist/illustrator. Characters invented by Weller for his tale using Mogil's superheroes—four Addingcombe-based superhero Cosmic Crusader characters battling it out with the Duke of Hell's Nazi mind controllers.

To build his fiction-within-fiction framework character Weller continues to draw himself in Chinese boxes, using hand-lettered explanations of how to read his "comix". Mogil's story, the first part of 'The Battle for Heaven' is retold on keys of Weller's borrowed electronic typewriter copied word-for-word without illustration. Prose is prefaced by a comic-strip the trade journal Comics International didn't like featuring 1913 Adolf Hitler tracked by "the Satanic Whisperer". A comic depicting the Devil seeking Hitler's soul for possession.

In the noughties Hitler had become an overworked television subject recycled as YouTube memes. But twenty years ago featuring Hitler as a character in British small press comics fiction was considered sick but not in a good way. This was before antisemitism, conspiracy theories, chav culture and fake news gripped mainstream media (see SO #2 post). Space Opera #3 ws dropped from Comics International's small press reviews column where the title's first two issues won praise. Much needed sales and momentum were lost and the present writer considered whether comics as an artform was where Space Opera should be. Sure, sex and radical left-liberal politics could be accommodated into adult branded graphic novels in the 90s. But comic-book dissenters may have got a point arguing that illustrated cartoons were essentially a juvenile conception not to be too complex or taken too seriously.

As a metafictional response to this conundrum Weller decided to make his omnipresent Bromley writer-in-residence character MJ adopt a conservative literary attitude towards comics as one of Space Opera's four character-storytellers. This would add both dramatic self-conflict and a level of purposeful complexity (see SO #1 post) to the mix. As a matter of interest inspiration for Number 3's  "The Satanic Whisperer" cartoon-strip derived from old Hackney-based L. Miller US horror reprints sold by newsagents in the 60s and 70s; from Lenny Bruce's early comedy routines and from Mel Brooks' script for The Producers.

Comics and graphic novels may not have been the best form for Space Opera after all. Bob Cobbing printed Weller's Space Opera booklets in the 90s at New River Project. Cobbing printed little press poetry. He didn't print comics unless they were part of his own vispo explorations. His own criterion for little press poetry was unrelated to US and UK small press promotion. Cobbing's concern was getting poetry and poetics out to the widest public possible.

For the second part of 'The Battle for Heaven' Mike Weller needed to move his Space Opera to a different place/space.

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



Wednesday, June 07, 2017

second space opera tale 20 years on...

By June 1997 Michael Weller became totally pissed off with politics, management committees, general meetings, mass demonstrations and local left-wing activism in Tory London borough of Bromley.

Here's the story. It's a June 1997 "tale from wellerverse". Mike is broke and feeling unWeller.  He'd wasted an entire decade as a militant socialist fighting emergent neoliberalism. In the tale Mike Weller felt he was ending the century a deadbeat loser, his vision artfully impaired by the Earth Corporation. Clinicians at "Maydie" (local 20c folk term for old Croydon hospital) sketched the backs of character Weller's badass eyes copied from their digital scans. "We are the street artists now--not you eye fuck!" the mind-pickers pathed. Weller thought "surely I must be in some fiction where God creates Weller as an artist got rotten by Satanic possession of his mojo".  For in novelist MJ's tetralogy character Mike Weller is rewarded by The Devil—not that old clichéd Robert Johnson soul-at-the-crossroads-deal illustrated. This deal was lose colour field vision—win black-and-white-inner vampire vision.

Theme for a comic space opera? Weller immersed himself  writing and drawing. Planned since 1986 from notes and sketches in Weller's 'folders-full-of-Mick', this was going to be a comic-book series to finish the twentieth century off good and ill.

1997 in general was proving itself a year of escape from eighteen years Tory rule. Mass escapist counterculture ruled the roost. Characterized by emergence pop heroes Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mulder, Scully etc, along with comic books turned into slick graphic novels and popcorn-munching Marvel and DC comic superhero movies animated musical background Mel C's and B's, Brand New Heavies, All Saints 'n' hip hop cold rock a party in b-girl stance-fu-gee-la-la-land Britpop one-time. As old and fake as Weller's "Earth Corporation Millennium Glory Glory Temple".

Myth, magic, fantasy fun and conspiracy mêlée. Mike Weller's Space Opera 'zines were completed 1999. 'The Truth Is Out There' became the X-Files' strapline. The real twentieth century ended September 11 2001. From then on conspiracy and fake news became new populist counterculture. Conspiracy theory as counterfeit reality. Weller documented that story 2001-2010 as prose Slow Fiction. June 1997's "Vampire Empire" fitted a late 90's milieu—familiarised as a cartoon glove fashioned by old commercial artist character Sid Muddleton's illustrated line model feigned as Mike Weller's first professional comic book inking job 1965.

In the late 90s Tory Bromley got literary with its own Scribblers rebel band of local writers. Socially-oriented Beckenham scribblers found art, comedy, music, reading and publishing spaces with Lottery-funded Studio at 28 Beckenham Road. Weller got social. But number twenty-eight Beckenham Road was exactly the same location Weller began secondary Technical school in 1957. Coincidentally the Scribblers reading room was the classroom forty years before when Beckenham Technical School's subaltern head of English christened Michael Weller "Sam" to his class of thirty boys. Michael John Weller was transformed into Dickens' character Sam Weller ready-written 19th century. No sweat. His 20th century space opera needed to find a way out of time-and-space bound fixed identities. Turn fiction into tales-within-tales. Graphic entertainment.

3World x 4 dimensions = 12 space opera tales. Beckenham characters drawn from Weller's life since 1957 made fictional against backbeat pre-EEC English working class pop stars 1958-1962. Please Don't Tease  audiences Continental, Nordic, Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, South Africa (early '60s) and the Commonwealth nations. Tinny 45rpms with colourful record labels -- soundtrack to atomic threats, strontium-90, cold war crises, crumbling domestic Toryism and asbestos-ridden prefabricated housing.

The Prefabs returned in 1997 for a space opera. Weller put four once-famous Brit pop stars into an imagined pre-globalized beat group: its young one trad dad film actors playing made-up Eduard Mogilowski superheroes Cosmic Crusaders in parallel earth 1966 comic. Illustrated by fictional Mike Weller. Comic-book plotted as a millennial end times conflict between a globalized Jesus Christ of Marian catholics, Protestant evangelicals and an evil, invisible, possessive Duke of Hell sampled as Satan from Milton's poetic universe.

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

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Cass Art (Colebrooke)

Sarah Jacobs' An Accumulation of Fictions: Volumes 1-288 (Colebrooke Publications, 2017)

Please join us for the book launch on Thursday 22nd June 5-8 at the premises of Cass Art 66 Colebrooke Row N1 8AB. 

At 7 o'clock MICHAEL WELLER WILL BE PERFORMING extracts from Jacobs' After Nature: Highlights. RICHARD MAKIN will be READING extracts from An Accumlation of Fictions Volumes 289-384. 

Michael Hampton's full 2014 review of Sarah Jacobs' After Nature here

The present writer has collaborated with Sarah Jacobs in film and print since her 21c digital art was first publically displayed by Peter Philpott on his essential poetry website. Peter Greatworks' platform also published an earlier version of Richard Makin's Dwelling as 'St Leonards' and displayed an early Mike Weller experiment with digital poetics.

Donning an Eastern European box black leather jacket with its "classic" bottom button missing Michael Weller will attempt to dust off early 2000's performance persona Bobbing the man who was Thursday "Cliff of Albion".      

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

first space opera tale 20 years on...

With text and image sampled extensively for 2016's Spurious Purple, "tale from wellerverse" 'Ultimate Legend' was first published as little press pamphlet in March 1997 by Bob Cobbing's New River Project and reprinted by him in May to meet demand for Mike Weller's small press comics in the 90's. But as further numbered issues of Space Opera were printed, sales and interest from comics readers gradually dropped off. As fiction incrementally became metafiction in later Space Opera stories, Mike Weller the comics artist was represented as fictional by equally fictional writer-in-residence character MJ.

MJ: written as vain upstart, snobbish, right-wing suburban confidence-man with sociopathic tendencies experiencing delusions of omnipresence bordering on the psychotic. Weller's contemporary novelist alterity abhors comics and any pretention cheap cartoon picture books could ever be graphic literature or poetry.

Self-published by Visual Associations, eleven more tales were continued by Weller as a "comic book series". Finishing in the last month of the 20th century, one dozen completed partworks were produced as limited edition paperback book September 2000.

A completed artist's book designated to Mike Weller—Mike Weller's Space Opera was published using little press internet promotion pioneered by Bill Griffith's listings (up until July 2016 Lollipop was maintained by Peter Manson). Supposedly the fourth part of writer MJ's "Doomed Boy" tetralogy (misspelled "tetraology" continually by a Mike Weller alterity). In Space Opera, MJ's graphic novelist character Nick Muir creates deadbeat failure Mick/Mike Weller as cartoon subcharacter—ultimate opposite of MJ. Mick Weller, a fourth alterity, a no-confidence man paranoid conspiracy theorist as ridiculous as character MJ and his make-believe literary grandeur.

Nick Muir is created by Weller as graphic novelist cipher—a composite caricature of success the form gained in popular culture beginning late 20c.

And the colour of the card Mike Weller chooses to cover his perfect bound "space opera". Glorious purple—pre-spurious hue.

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


Saturday, March 11, 2017


Nicolas Spicer's broadside TL;DR freely distributed on public exhibition

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Spurious Purple: 72 serial e-shots from 2016

Free-to-view HomeBaked pdf's here; Kindle Edition here and Amazon print-on-demand paperback here