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  • davidwills 10:13 pm on February 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , death, design, , , in search of barney bubbles, , ,   

    Barney Bubbles – In Graphic Detail 

    Barney Bubbles artwork (detail)

    Revelations.

    Today I’m in a mixed time awareness of the ages, reading a slew of overlapping novels, from 1948’s 1984 Orwell to the 1996 or so Ladbroke Grove of M. Amis. I’m also reading Northanger Abbey, by the eighteen-year old Jane Austen of 1799 and sitting on a fold-out mattress in the company of my eighteen-year old daughter Alessandra and her Chinese friend Dghzou here in 2012. The young women discuss the boys in the Occupy Oakland demo they were at last night, “They should have left when we did. No sense those men. I expect they got arrested. Let’s send them pictures of our food.”

    As they chat, I listen to the now six week old recording of The BBC Radio-4 programme about Colin Fulcher, alias Barney Bubbles, on Dghzou’s lap-top, a show about how my ol’ friend Barney went nuts.

    It’s a clever and emotional piece of detective reportage from the front lines of Barney’s life.

    Such a revelation, I had no idea he was so troubled. We were the best of friends but in the style of blokes of the time we shared no intimacy of the sort that might lead to telling it all in such a forthright way. Not like in California today when every body tells their woes.

    During my visit to his place in Islington in May of 1983, six months before he died I didn’t hear his hidden voice telling me his troubles. Not so hidden in retrospect, he said it to me out loud, something like, ‘I have a date with death.’ But I took it as metaphor at the time.

    No matter that death stared us down, that both of our parents had gone in a moment, his the year after mine, we’d never admit such a sentiment as loss to each other, no, not cool. No, he wryly looked away as I asked, “So. How did your parents die?”

    He dismissed me with, “They just died, di’n’t they.” Not a flicker of emotion.

    But he went on to say that the Australian Aborigines had given him a death, had put a stone on him and that he would die to protest the ways of the world, did I believe such things?

    “Yeah, they work, I’m sure.” We both agreed that how killing stones worked was that they were believed in, and that objects were alive, like shapes, a conversation we’d had over the years.

    On the radio show Fulcher’s sister, Jill, was astonishingly and appealingly forthright, so dramatically different than my remembered youthful fear of her, of what I imagined was her dangerous wrath and disapproval of me, her brother’s odd friend. No, Jill showed, through her clear telling, some of her brother’s hidden emotion. She sounded so real and poignant, with that radio sound effect of a ticking clock in the background, giving off a powerful whiff of the suburban, glassy-tiled fireplaces of Whitton, as I sat eight-thousand miles away on a fold-out here in San Francisco.

    What a great piece of BBC magic, of emotional and you-were-there detective work this is. I grew up listening to the radio and this show is as good as it gets. Now all this telescoping of time muddles the world of radio and novels into a confused memory, with Cassandra Austen, Jane’s sister, editing a movie of Barney Fulcher slicing his face mask, all the while adding adding bits of Burrough’s Naked Lunch to the mix.

    A minor point of fact about the radio programme, I don’t think ‘Colin Fulcher’ become ‘Barney Bubbles’ in 1963, He adopted ‘Barney’ in maybe ’66(?) and it wasn’t until 1967 when he started his light show that he adopted ‘Bubbles’. Hmm, I seem to recall I am wrong by a couple of years.

    Another thing of which I’m less certain, but do feel, is that I don’t think Barney was ever really in ‘fashion’, so I don’t think he ever really went ‘out of style.’ He was always too far out in front to be really accepted for the seer he was by his paymasters. I think the reason he got used so much was because his employers were connived at by Barney’s force of personality. His “Cheap and Cheerfiul,” won the day despite their misgivings about his ideas. But when things went wrong for him in ’83, probably I now realize because of a bad cocaine and speed habit, he was less able to cope, and so off he flew with the Australians.

    Colin Fulcher went in a ritual which was Barney Bubbles’ ‘Look what you made me do’ to the music industrial-complex. Plus I think warmonger Margaret Thatcher had just been or was going to be re-elected. His arch-enemy, Town mag publisher Michael Heseltine, then Minister of Defence, was weaseling for PM. Elvis Costello. HM Govt. There were many reasons to protest but his seedy metaphor turned deadly. It wasn’t just the disease, as Wiki calls it, that killed him, he was saying something. The bag and the cuts were masks in a performance.

    Stupid idea. Don’t do it Barney.

     
  • davidwills 8:38 am on November 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 2012, , , , , design, , , , january, , , radio   

    Barney Bubbles – Turned On, Tuned In, Dropped Out 

    Barney Bubbles artwork detail

    Mark Hodkinson’s BBC Radio 4 documentary about Barney Bubbles now has a broadcast date: 2 January 2012 at 16:00 GMT. Or for us folks in California, 8:00 PST. Also available at other times in other locations around the world. Turn on, tune in, drop out. The visual accompaniment to this newsflash shows two antennaed daschunds, and are of course, a product of Barney’s tripped-out imagination.

    (Thanks to R&M for the image.)

     
    • Rebecca and Mike 6:23 pm on January 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      The Radio 4 documentary by Mark Hodkinson is currently available online. Go here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b018wh7h

    • Rebecca and Mike 6:09 pm on January 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Review in The Guardian, 8th Jan 2012:
      “Back to Radio 4, where us grey-hairs should be, for a revealing documentary on Barney Bubbles, the legendary album sleeve artist. Presenter/producer Mark Hodkinson was excellent, sensitively interviewing Bubbles’s sister Gill (sic) and son, asking the hard questions – “How did you feel immediately afterwards?”: to Gill (sic), on finding her brother dying – as well as keeping in telling detail. (“He looked like he came out of the ground,” said Brian Griffin, a friend.) And I liked the blasts of music from Elvis Costello, Depeche Mode, Nick Lowe, without the tedious “and that was…” back announcements. Lovely, careful, touching stuff.”

      Review in The Telegraph 3rd Jan 2012
      In Search of Barney Bubbles (Radio 4, yesterday) was sad and strange. Mark Hodkinson was tracking down a man who designed brilliant sleeves for record albums in the 1960s and 1970s. Barney Bubbles was the pseudonym of Colin Fulcher, clever, inventive, sensitive, influential, born in London in 1942. He did covers for albums by Ian Dury, Elvis Costello, Billy Bragg, Hawkwind, was the in-house designer for Stiff Records. He also did drugs, was a manic depressive, self-harmed, committed suicide in 1983. You could tell how it was all going to end and, to be honest, I did start thinking “oh, I don’t want to hear any more…” but then Hodkinson did that essential radio magic trick. He turned his dreams and memories into something we could share so that, just for a second, you could feel what it was like to be him, a teenager on a Lancashire housing estate, looking up at the night sky, listening to Hawkwind, being taken to unexpected places of the heart and mind’s eye. A second or two is all it takes when the radio is this good.

  • davidwills 8:18 pm on November 2, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , design, , , ,   

    Barney Bubbles – Are Y’ Courtin’? 

    Barney Bubbles Chilli Willi sticker (courtesy R and M)

    Here we see Barney Bubbles in cheap and cheerful mode, rapidographing up an image with references.

    There’s Walt Disney’s Pluto’s bent ears – but with four fingers and thumb style hands, deliberately non-Ub Ewarks-like (Ub was the originator of the Disney three fingered hands).

    The Harris Tweed jackets are amusing, each with their own weave. Improbably for a time of experiment in all things garment, we were still wearing such things back then, a tweedy jacket with elbow patches being useful for its pockets. In ’73 I was featured in the Times on the fashion page doing a layered clothing strip tease in Covent Garden by Ed Bell, in which I believe I was wearing two such jackets as well as an overcoat or two, and many underlayers.

    Talking of layered clothing, it was Barney, back in his ‘Colin Fulcher’ days who preached the no-underpants style of dressing, with a view to avoid the presumably unseemly seam lines viewable through skin-tight denim trousers (OK, ‘Levi’s’) that he shrank wearing them in the bath so he said (I don’t believe he did). This was a person at Conran Design inspired piece of fashion sense.

    The border lines are drawn sharp (real sharp!), in contrast to his oft-used wiggly jagged line that was deliberate and not the product of a shaky hand. His ‘shaky hand’ drawn line was evident in the drawings he did for the Book of Egg Cookery in 1967, but which I in my innocence redrew, much to his annoyance.

    Hand lettered, the type seems to vary in weight with ‘Chilli Willi’ perversely appearing lighter, I wonder if that was intentional? It was quite likely a product of not particularly caring if it was or wasn’t, just the way it came out of his fingers.

    The line up of jolly chaps is a tip of the hat to Music Hall’s ounce of flash and wit, which influenced him in his BBC radio Light Programme Arthur Askey “Are y’ courtin’?” mode. He did enjoy that pounding the boards scene.

     
    • davidwills 10:45 pm on November 2, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Didn’t notice afore, but I like how the Chilli Pepper closest to us has two ears, but to simplify matters the other four have only one ear apiece.

  • davidwills 6:29 pm on August 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Book design, , design, Directory 1979, , John Cooper Clarke, journalist, Mark Ellen, New Musical Express, NME, , rock, Smash Hits, Word   

    Barney Bubbles – Damned Review in NME 

    Seems like not all folks thought much of Barney Bubbles’ work at the time, particularly NME journalist Mark Ellen who in a review of the ‘John Cooper Clarke Directory 1979’ book which Barney designed, slammed it with criticisms such as “dreadful punk-chic composition”, “cheap geometric artworks”, “hung at irritating angles”, “simplistic overtures”. Surprised readers of this blog will be happy to hear that four years later, the NME did write Barney a glowing obituary.
    ***
    Further. This review reminds me of all the other space blind writers and publishers I’ve worked with, who payed cash for paper or space and proceeded to waste it.
    Thanks to the ever-helpful R&M for a copy of the original article that can be read below.
     
  • davidwills 3:18 pm on July 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , design, , , , , oz 12, , oz12, ,   

    David Wills and Barney Bubbles – Blow Up Oz 12 

    Welcome to a digitally inflatable copy of Oz 12. Click on an image once, and then when it has opened in a new screen click on it again and it’ll go supersize XXXL as never seen before on the world-wide-web.

     
  • davidwills 1:28 am on July 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , design, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Many of Colin Fulcher’s (AKA Barney Bubblles) album covers to be seen 

    I just found this
    Which means it’s probably been around a while. ‘Tis a view of much of the Colin Fucher (AKA Barney Bubbles) ouvre, I could correct one or two things in the biography, but a it’s good show and worth a visit.
     
  • davidwills 4:39 am on July 6, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , design, , , ,   

    The glossy, brightly coloured illustrations by Denis McLoughlin in the Buffalo Bill Wild West Annual 

    The glossy, brightly coloured illustrations by Trent Magreggor ? (no – see below) in the Buffalo Bill Wild West Annual of 1958 were a big influence on Colin Fulcher. I’d been looking for the artist for a while and came across the reference to the book in Kieth Richards’ book ‘Life.’

     
    • davidwills 4:52 am on July 6, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I think the editor was John Groom, but who was the illustator?

    • david wills 5:11 am on July 6, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      The Comic Art of Denis McLoughlin No. 1: A Comics Monographs Special Issue ~ Book ~ Stated first edition, 2007. Perfect bound, 102 pages including covers, illustrated in black and white.

  • davidwills 2:36 am on July 6, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , design, , , , ,   

    Masie P does Bengali in Whitton on a visit to Colin Fulcher’s home town haunts 

    Masie P. writes: I had a brief stay back in Twickenham last week and had yet another culinary delight from Whitton High Street.  A new Bengali restaurant has opened where the John Greigs store used to be.  It’s in the style of Southall High Street eateries, but a little more refined than the stand-up takeaway.  It is of course, completely vegetarian and non-alcoholic and the food comes in pantechnicon-sized containers and costs pennies.
    I took my son and eldest grand-daughter for a birthday treat… eight…  and the waiter was amazed that such a wee child was relishing the chillies in the dhosa.  Takes after her Nanna. 🙂
    Been painting blue angels all week…  I seem to have a comic-book streak hidden away in me somewhere, that keeps making a break for it.
     
  • davidwills 1:04 pm on May 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 1982, , , Blanket Of Secrecy, design, , Radio 4   

    Barney Bubbles – Radio Ga Ga 

    Blanket Of Secrecy LP inner sleeve 1982 - by Barney Bubbles

    R and M tell me of some hot news from the UK. Journalist Mark Hodkinson has been commissioned to write and present a 30 minute documentary on Barney Bubbles for the BBC’s Radio 4 (that’s radio), to be broadcast in Fall (that’s Autumn).

    Thanks too to R and M for the eavesdropping graphic shown above.

     
  • davidwills 8:31 am on April 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , art graphic design, , bruce thomas, , design, , elvis costello and the attractions, Gone In The Morning, LP Rock, , , Spring, Stained Glass, Sutherland Brothers, , Tulips   

    Barney Bubbles Tulips – An Open and Shut Case 

    Well regarded Barney Bubbles historians RandM (or for those unfamiliar, Rebecca and Mike) have forwarded this seasonal contribution from their Barney symbolism files, for which we are truly thankful… thank you folks!

    Hi David,

    Well, it’s Spring-time, so we thought you might like us to make a Spring-related contribution to your blog.

    In 1972 Barney Bubbles designed the cover to Quiver’s LP ‘Gone In The Morning’ in a faux-marquetry style (although the stained glass in the centre of the design was on real glass, but sadly got accidentally smashed many years ago). We’ve commented before that the flowers on the front of this LP are tulips, but maybe now is a good time to dig a little deeper (if you’ll pardon the gardening pun) into the symbolism of them.

    Quiver Gone In The Morning LP 1972 - Designed by Barney Bubbles

    Tulips (spring-blooming perennials) grow from bulbs, and these bulbs can be seen towards the bottom of the design on the front and back of the LP. Tulips respond to the daily rhythm of light and dark, causing them to open and close, and so on the back of the LP Barney has shown the tulips closed (accompanied by a photo of a partially obscured sun, presumably a sunrise), and on the front of the LP has shown the tulips open (accompanied by the fully lit stained glass design). The tulips’ opening and closing  – or coming and going – with light and dark is a reference to the LP’s title ‘Gone In The Morning’. It doesn’t stop there though, the flowers and bulbs also represent arrows (the bulbs are the arrowheads and the flowers are the flights), a reference to the band’s name Quiver.
    Barney’s work is like a visual cryptic crossword, but a crossword that doesn’t help by letting you know how many letters are in the answer!
    The band’s bassist Bruce Thomas subsequently played with Elvis Costello and The Attractions, which regular readers of your blog will know Barney did a lot of work for too.
    Best wishes,
    RandM
     
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