Sunday, December 01, 2019

twelfth space opera tale 20 years on...

'Festival of Lights', the last of twelve black and white pamphlets entitled Space Opera was published as December 1999's final issue.

It opens with a character named Mike Weller going to Walford between location for EastEnders TV filming and film itself. Closure of 'Mike Weller's Space Opera' is sountracked by Neil Sedaka's Stairway to Heaven. And that's where music stopped taking the Mick... Well-a, well-a, well-a, heavenly angel... Twelve books --"Mike Weller's Space Opera" -- were finally collected in September 2000 as spurious purple-covered Parsifal-length Space Opera The Artist's Book, printed by Intype-Libra of Wimbledon. Digital files of this book and MJ Weller's next three titles in his own tetralogy have all been wiped into oblivion. Weller's Visual Associations and Home'Baked Books printing firms commissioned to make his perfect bounds, chapbooks and 'zines as objects' have been taken over, gotten re-located due to EarthCo property world speculation and estate development.  Gone 'out of print' as producers in a dark festival of twenty-first century South London printshop absences.

The first eleven issues of Space Opera pamphlets, all with decorated inside front, inside back, and illustated back covers paid homage to 20th century Marvel and DC 36-page superhero comics--but by issue no. 12 Weller had well & truly written and drawn himself out of comic-book art into visual poetics--a long process of transformation explained through twelve space opera pamphlets twenty years on from original publication, as thirty months of blog entries 2017-2019.

SO #12 was an extended 48-page issue still including inside and outside cover decorations. The entire pamphlet series was printed by Bob Cobbing's New River Project published by Association of Little Presses (ALP) affiliate imprint Visual Associations 1997-1999.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

old new

Does anyone read blogger posts anymore!?


Sunday, September 01, 2019

eleventh space opera tale 20 years on...

September 1999's 'tale from wellerverse' entitled 'Fall' opens with a cartoon image of a blanked-eyed angel and a mind-picking thought balloon with DRAW ME written. "Fall" pictures Lucifer's cosmic battle with God in the spirit of Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy.  Mike Weller hand-letters words [...] I am here for ever so you who enter, leave all hope behind [full stop] below Lucifer's image.

Meeting godlike literary author and surgeon-general MJ in fighting his Alteration by Kid Doctor Clinics; Mike Weller is handed the mind of Michael John Weller and a head for literature and music. Music returns to Space Opera's imagined soundtrack in this issue but its mode has altered dramatically as the walls of Dis city shake and fall. Gone are comic books, sci-fi, zines, rock, reggae, dub, rap, raga and pop's one-thouand-and-one musical derivatives on display in the Earth Corporation's planned 21st century streamed Glory Glory Temple.

MJ is a literary musical snob who only reads classic texts and listens exclusively to classical music and high opera. Brecht & Weill are immediately rejected with Lennon & McCartney. Also dismissed with a wave of the hand and a snort of contempt are Mercer & de Paul, Fain & Webster, Arlen & Harburg, Freed & Herb Brown. Even Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and the Gershwins are sniffed at, as is Rodgers & Hart and Hammerstein's musical theatre. Lerner and Loewe's work is not good enough either for Michael John Weller. Mike is telepathically clone-transported by MJ to the compositional work of Richard Wagner. So Mike begins channelling Wagner, first as conductor of Beethoven's subversive ninth symphony in his late twenties as Kubrick's Clockwork Orange movie interpretation of Anthony Burgess' novel is released. Mike then considers Wagner's revolutionary musical arrangements for the Nibelungen sagas.

Mike learns everything about MJ's tastes, the author's love of dramatic song, and sees a parallel between the mix of music and drama and mix of words and pictures, going way beyond comics or graphic novels as young middle class readers called the market for illustrated perfect bound paperbacks in the 1980s. With  living conduit of Wagner in MJ's mind, Weller could write and draw a Space Opera of words and pictures, disregarding his first simple plan to make a small press comic zine series for alt-comic fans. 'Fall' is the penultimate issue in the saga.

In SO#11's opening picture story the comedy's divine producer welcomes Lucifer into God's space laboratory. This angel is God's finest creation. God spends more time drawing Lucifer's wings than all the other Archangels put together. Pen & inked/black & white drawn Lucifer is pretty boy hungry yet oversexed beastie with absolute contempt for his artist creator. A male angel bursting with omnipotent desire for flesh, extremely jealous of his producer's supreme power of creation. God may believe he is producer of all creation but Lucifer believes he is cartooned architect engineer for a new godless universe of his own making. A universe in which Lucifer is king and make-believe FAT GODHEAD GODOT is benign old man in the sky. BIG NOBODADDY. An enraged divine producer throws his favorite angel out of the sky naming it Satan ARCHANGEL OF INSECTS. Mike hand-letters the producer's dialogue comic bubble text in mind-plant shading. HOW DARE THE NOBODADDY REDUCE ME TO THIS says a nullimaginatively pictured satanic eagle.

The start of Wagner's  Der Ring des Nibelungen is imagined as soundtrack to Space Opera's previous issues SO #9 The Man Who Drew Too Much and SO #10 Alteration after popular music died a 20th century death in SO #8's Listen to Cliff. In a postscript to SO #11 Satan drives to the entertainer's grand mansion in Surrey with Götterdämmerung played as soundtrack to the tale 'When Harry met Satan'.
Satan's presence as protagonist character Duke of Hell in the battle for the 1960s is told through character Mike Weller's autobiographical text, illustrated Abyss of Darkness story written on his borrowed electronic typewriter: and a banned sex comic by Mike's underground cartoonist alter-ego Stelling. 

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 psychic 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