Oz 12: Eric Stodge, Barney Bubbles and crew


Those stapled sheets of amusement, the magazine-cum-poster Oz 12, established new pastures for words to chew the cud, Oz 12 was a message where the medium not only foretold the future, Oz 12 was the fute.

Some credit the work to just Barney B. But the credits are otherwise and shew this as being a Barney communal enterprise with myself, David Wlls credited as ‘Eric Stodge’.

We’d seen and marvelled at Martin Sharp’s issue of Flower Power Oz in early ’67 and said, hey, we could do an issue. Barney said he’d ask Ginny Clive Smith for their phone number, which he did, and I called Jon Goodchild, went by to see him and Martin Sharp with a mixed bag of Barney and my work. We would work on an issue for December ’67 for the tim when Richard Neville would be in Australia. (It was late and came out in January ’68.)

Barney and I worked on this issue together and commisioned other artists, we envisioned a crowd empowered by print to tell their tall tales to the world. We didn’t believe in ‘Art Direction’, a wrong concept in this context. We were putting into pracrice what we’d learned in all our adventures, didn’t really discuss it overmuch, jus’ did it.

Oz 12 was intended to grab the bag and run, doing what we’d been developing; a mob of  empowered artists amok in print and party, our idea of cap ‘F’ Fun, a grab-bag of multi-mediated tricks. We did that. The result is with us still, as Barney said about a graphic language, “It’s everywhere.” We believed TV had taught the populace to see visualy – like artists – and we talked that language.

Seeing him learn, watching the work after Oz 12, I saw Barney’s pencil sprout twigs, envelop the desks of senior creatives throughout the kingdom and take flight behind their backs, to teach the graphic globe how to design with flair and balls.

Barney, who significantly was second in the credits list at his own insistence, as usual going for anominity, wanted first credit for me. He was self effacing to a fault, a magician who used any oportunity he could to rub out his misdirections. He frequently used his hand as a comvenient mask on his face, most obviously to hide his teeth,

Oz 12 was a co-operative venture. Creative blokes in a commune of souls was the name of our game. I was credited as ‘Eric Stodge,’ my own depreciating name, a reference to my wet-blanket ‘sensible’ Officer Krupke act that I felt clouded Barney’s brilliance. This is, I think, the first of his infrequent credits as Bubbles, a moniker he earned at his light show. (Wickipedia credits Roy Burge as one of the designers, but he had nothing to do with this particular project, and is not listed in  the credits.)

I have written elsewhere about the crew, but do it again here for auld time’s sake: Onederland Productions was a Barney invention of the day, a vague reference to Playland at the Beach (a funfair to the Brits) that started life as a water-slide amusement park off Haight Street in the San Francisco of the 1800’s, and later moved to the beach. Also a nod to ‘Fairyland’ in Oakland – the original inspiration for Walt to design ‘Disneyland.’

Chris Higson, the artist who worked as a hired freelance for the ‘comic’ Eagle, anonymously drew and inked the famous Winston Churchill serial, but which is credited to another artist. It was Higson who introduced Barney to Steven Warwick and Pub Rocker Ian Dury (Fact?) when Barney was despondent, wandering the streets looking for an easy out in 1976 or so. (This was the walk that Barney used to power the famous Specials video.)

Stafford Cliff, the Conran Studio designer, was a pal of Barney’s who enlived our circle with impish Australian Rotring accuracy. John Dove, whom we met at Nova Magazine, later fulfilled his design-destiny with beaux Molly in the runnels of London’s fashion scene; Nanook Bunker, intricate illustrator of whimsy and goats, led a lively life, eventually swooning for a swine farmer in Eire.

Fred Fulcher was Barney’s rumpled dad, who improbably brought us beer on two occasions, once, when painting the A1GGz bus, and another time while busy pasting up Oz 12. A real gor’ blimey sort of fella, he was not blind to Barney’s spirit.

Gary and Carol were friends whom we met in the Indian ‘Front Room’ restaurant on North End Road, they provided a touch of wise California hip to the mix. (Gary recently sent me a memory of his meet with big Barney influence, the artist, Bruce Connor, which I will publish soon.) Paul Olsen, one of the Funky Brothers’ loose coalition of musical wiz-kids, drummed up a storm of lanky bemusement.

Dave Pether and Pete Brown were the remnants of the Barney’s adopted art school band, the Muleskinners, after would-be-one-day ex-Stones keyboarder, Mac McClagan left to form the Small Faces.

The wheel at the foot of the picture is the undercarriage of a TSR2 fighter bomber, a piece of aeronautical-engineering my dad done, the inclusion of which Barney memorably said should please him.