David Wills writes: What began as a response to Rebecca and Mike (sometimes called randm) in London about an old friend, the influential graphic designer Barney Bubbles, has now turned into an epic by me, journeyman prestidigitator, as I aim to cross the writer-reader barrier. This is a travelogue over the decades.
During this time I have frequently worked in co-operation with other artists, including Susan Brenner, Kathleen O’Neill, Cat Bell, Faye Schoolcraft, Nikki K, Zeno, and Andrew Bayowski.
I am now a San Francisco expat-Brit, but for a while there back in the day, I lived in London and was a good friend and co-worker with Colin Fulcher, aka Barney Bubbles. I was a brother of his from 1958 to ’83, when he died, in work, life, and ballistics. He was a meteoric talent, the artist in print. He worked for many people, always with his singular focussed, personal vision. He worked and worked, produced a whole encyclopedia of art while the going was good and disappeared just as quickly. From Hawkwind to Elvis Costello, from Friends magazine to Inner City Unit and Devo, he was fast to spot a trend, faster still to do it diff.
I told sculptor and Barney’s fellow Isleworth Grammar graduate, David Chedgey, “I think Fulcher was a great graphic designer, his graphic work topped by none.” Along with his sublimely creative ways he was a self aware aware manic-depressive; as a friend he had a magnificent presence, but on occasions had irrational failings of trust, which I would guess was one reason he went. In 1983 he said to me in an unfinished sentence, something like, ‘I’ll never have time to apologize to all those I’ve… ‘ He had guts, found ways to get his way in the world of sonic bombast, but was screwed royally by some of his paymasters like Ted Moulton, and was often constrained by his home life I think. But he also had a good, honorable Medici in his life in Justin de Blanc.
Barney was very much into drugs of various descriptions, mostly LSD, although we also sniffed when I last saw him in ’83. It may have messed his mind up, though it may also have given his visionary mind the courage to do as he graphicly pleased; unfortunately it also gave him license, or so he said, to leave this mortal-coil too early, in protest against the ways of the world.
Graphic artist, Barney Bubbles the First, at 307 Portobello Road in London, England in about 1970, in an anonymous photograph enlarged from half a contact sheet of b&w shots taken at the ‘office’ of the magazine Friends, and found by writer raconteur John May in the detritus of the abandoned studio in 1972.
John May is to be found at http://hqinfo.blogspot.com
Art for Brinsley Schwartz painted by the art-bloke known as Barney Bubbles
This painting by Barney is very closely related to the work of an artist Denis McLoughlin (not ‘Ned Mclaughlan’ which is what I came up with when I tried to recall) who illustrated cowboy yarns in the Buffalo Bill Wild West Annual of 1958. This artist, whose name I can’t remember correctly, was a Barney favorite. Also, as fellow Barney maven, Paul Gorham, says in his ongoing and exciting blog, it is borrowed from Paint by Numbers art, but I think that is because Denis M’s work looked like that– more than that Barney was aping Paint x#s.
To find the expanded look in the horse torso and rider, Barney stretched the original in a Xerox machine scanner. With the lid up and by pulling the original art slightly to the right, the image is stretched by moving the art slightly slower than the scanner light, as the scanner light passes under the equine midriff for an inch or so.