Moorcock, Marquez, Franks, Lowbridge and Wills on Bubbles

David Wills: I was thinking yesterday to contact the well regarded science fiction author, Michael Moorcock and ask about working with Barney Bubbles, but as I see from the interview below, he never did (not true, see comments and next post), although I know they were very good friends.

Barney once said that Moorcock was the “dark side” to whatever I was. He said, and I struggle to find the words (as did Barney), that I “was like kinda ‘humanistic’ to his own, er ‘mechanistic’ attitude.” Not quite Barney’s words, but as close I can get.

Barney said that Moorcock was coming from the dark side and that that was just as relevant to Barney’s world view as where I came from ­– which was presumably, since he didn’t use the words, the ‘light side.’ Barney definitely did use the words “dark side” to describe Moorcock though. Look at his picture for proof.

Readers may see the original interview that I have edited some, at

Michael Moorcock, circa 1963

Portuguese writer Pedro Marques finds that celebrated science fiction author, Michael Morcock, is indefinable. He asks is Moorcock a core Londoner who wrote one of the best literary hymns to the city, Mother London, and yet feels at home in either Texas or Paris? Is he a hugely read, cultivated, cerebral man of letters, or one who collaborates with Pop and comic book artists, and mingles with rock bands? All of above.

When Pedro asks Moorcock “What were the comic books, book covers or films that stirred your imagination as a teenager, and did they so as strongly as the literary content?”

Michael Moorcock goes, “ The only two comics I liked as a kid were Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel Junior from the US and The Eagle with Dan Dare et al. I didn’t otherwise like comics and went for the last juvenile magazine which was all text. It was called The Champion. I loved magazines which caried illustrations or, for instance, the William books of Richmal Crompton which always had Thomas Henry’s beautiful illustrations. I never much liked SF movies and still don’t much. I think I preferred my own imagination!”

PM “When looking now at the covers of the 1967-1971 period of New Worlds magazine, what was it that set it visually apart from Oz, IT International Times and other underground magazines, or literary magazines such as Ambit?

MM “I contacted artists like Paolozzi and others and ran articles on them because they were the nearest I could get to what I wanted.  I remember an argument with Jimmy who wanted me to run Dali and I didn’t want to run Dali etc, because I thought them over-used by that time.  I think it was generational.  The surrealists meant more to Jimmy but I felt they’d been on the covers of every American magazine since the 1930s.  That ten years difference gave us different tastes.”

Charles Platt’s cover for New Worlds issue 193 (August 1969).

Graphics for Quintessence album poster, 1969.

David Wills adds his bit, “I find an interesting relationship here, a strong similarity in fact, with the Quintessence poster of the same period, the first commissioned design BB put together at Teenburger Studio. Which kinda puts the kibosh on Moorcock’s theory of why he and Barney seldom worked together.

PM “How was it to work with BB? Did you know him already before Hawkwind? Did you ever invite him to design one of your books’ covers?”

MM: “I knew Barney for years but he was still into nouveau-Nouveau mostly at that time. Barney and Charles Platt lived a few blocks from one another in the Portobello Road and environs, where the offices of New Worlds and Frendz were situated, virtually side by side. By the time he was working for Stiff Records he had more work than he could handle and I never wanted to overload him, he was such a sweet guy.  But I would have used him if I could. As it was I used Glyn Jones for that period. Charles later emigrated to the US and Barney, of course, took his own life.”

DW butting in again here, “I think it is mainly in Moorcock’s imagination that Barney was ever exclusively into nouveau, or anything else come to that, given his freedom he’d come in from the ceiling. In fact it would seem from the Quintessence cover and the New Worlds cover that there was some strong convergence in Moorcock and Barney’s work going on here. I’d a thought Barney’s genius was his total non-commitment to any one viewpoint. Look at the Friends magazine of the time, which was hella cool and wildly new in feeling, not much nouveau there. I think that Barney would have asked to work more for Moorcock if he wanted to, but knew that although Moorcock could be a good friend ­– he was not an easy one to work with, since, as Moorcock says, in another context, ‘I think I preferred my own imagination’.”
I had earlier written that Moorcock ‘never used Barney’s work,’ I was wrong and have amended my words accordingly.