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• • • James Cawthorn, England's Greatest Living Fantasy Artist

Jim Cawthornleft: Michael Moorcock's favourite illustrator at the signing for A Hundred Best Fantasy Books (1987), Cawthorn's seminal review of the essential works in the field.

Innovative artist James Cawthorn was the stella light in Savoy's first round of publication, with his graphic adaptation of Michael Moorcock's Stormbringer, back in 1976. In 1977 he drew a new set of illustrations for Savoy's second book, Sojan, a reprinting of Michael Moorcock's original fantasy stories from Tarzan Adventures (1957/58). Since then a thirty-year collaboration between Cawthorn and Savoy has been sustained, one that included the first British graphic novel, The Jewel in the Skull (1978), with its stunning collection of double-page illustrations, and later The Crystal and the Amulet (1986). The third and final title in the series awaits a schedule.

Jim has illustrated many books for Savoy over the years, including Henry Treece's Celtic Quartet (1980) and Maurice Richardson's The Exploits of Engelbrecht (2000). Thirty-eight of his early original artworks, thrilling and radical as first-generation rock'n'roll, were collected in Jon Farmer's Sieg Heil Iconographers (2006). He is currently at work on his adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars, fulfilling a lifelong ambition.

Cawthorn portrait

Jim's self-portrait, a small nod to his continuing work with Savoy, drawn July 2007.

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• • • Horror Panegyric

left: Lord Horror by Britton/Guidio.Lord Horror

A forthcoming book from Savoy by K Seward, an author new to us, this is a more than worthy addition to our list, delivering a critique from an American perspective. Horror Panegyric casts a new critical light on the Lord Horror canon and picks up on a number of points that have not been raised by other critics.

K Seward, an incisive art critic, is an expert on William Burroughs, and a man with his ear cocked firmly in the direction of the literary perverse. For followers of all things Savoy, this will be a gem of a book. Albeit compact, and not in the realms of recent large self-critical works from the Savoy press, it will nevertheless be one that punches beyond its weight. Below, we have some tasty extracts to give readers a flavour.

Horror Panegyric, a deluxe hardback, will draw for its inspiration on Grove Press's promotional booklet to accompany the November 20th 1962 American publication of Naked Lunch. Clearly, Barney Rosset, Grove's owner, printed the prospectus with an obscenity trial in mind; the entire document reads like a legal argument to establish Naked Lunch's literary merit before a courtroom. It might be said that our own battles with the censor are safely in the past, but the effects of the censorship attempts are not. The Lord Horror novels are blanked by the English literary press, stigmatised into silence, and there is no guarantee that the two-headed snake will not attack again as times change and new laws on what constitute present-day obscenity (racial or paedophilic) appear. It is hoped that Horror Panegyric will serve both to deter attacks and alter the perceived perception of the Lord Horror canon.

Seward's book will contain a detailed Lord Horror 'timeline' as well as selected extracts from the three novels, Lord Horror, Motherfuckers: The Auschwitz of Oz and Baptised in the Blood of Millions.

"My guess is that your work is simply going to follow the same route as authors like Ballard or Philip K Dick—they start out as 'genre' authors, but then readers gradually realise that the books transcend those genres." K Seward to Michael Butterworth, 29/1/07

"I view Burroughs much like a shark. He needed constant movement and unlimited creative sustenance." Jed Birmingham ('Burroughs, Berrigan and The Ticket That Exploded', Realitystudio.org website)

Extracts from Horror Panegyric by K Seward

I wish I could convince you how significant I think these books are, particularly Motherfuckers. You can do a clinical trial to show the efficacy of a drug, but it's no simple matter to demonstrate that a book belongs in the canon or, failing that, to show that a particular book is something you really need to read. I can tell you there are half a dozen literary works that, in a lifetime of reading, have blown my mind: Arthur Rimbaud's poetry, William Burroughs' Naked Lunch, Samuel Beckett's trilogy (Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnameable), Michael Herr's Dispatches, and now David Britton's Motherfuckers. There are other books I love and admire, but these are the ones that raised reading to a new level. I can remember encountering them the same way others remember losing their virginity or smoking pot for the first time. They weren't just books, they were experiences.

A funny thing happened, though. Savoy escalated the conflict, even won the war since it now publishes with impunity works of greater transgression than those for which it had once been raided. But the victory seems to have left Savoy in a weird place, like one of those soldiers lost in a forest and still fighting the war after it's over. Their franchise of Lord Horror productions is provocative, original, visionary, and contains at least one outright masterpiece (Motherfuckers). Young writers should be looking at it the same as they do Naked Lunch, i.e. as a work that shows them what the possibilities are in the hands of a master. Academics should be crawling all over it with their magnifying glasses trying to figure out what it means and what it says about society. Anyone interested in literature should be reading and experiencing the damn thing. A few cognoscenti are there already, snapping up the first editions of Lord Horror before everybody else catches on and prices them out of the market. But the victory celebration hasn't happened yet, and it is hard to understand why.

To the first chapter or two of Motherfuckers I warmed slowly. The prose was dense, the language somewhat exotic. I wondered if, as an American, I was struggling with a particularly colloquial British slang. I worried that the book might be another Trainspotting. Personally I don't enjoy the Scottish ebonics of Irvine Welsh ("The sweat wis lashing oafay Sick Boy; he wis trembling."). But then I realized that it was not a regionalism I had run into. It was something else. Feeling very self-conscious about people—a melting pot of them—reading over my shoulder, I stood on a New York subway scanning a chapter full of nigger jokes, and I knew that what this book offered was not a slang but a mindset, an attitude, a vision. It was like hearing rock and roll for the first time and knowing that, however much you'd enjoyed music till then, you'd just found something more intense.

At this point, I felt the shock of recognition. I knew it when I saw it. This book was a masterpiece. I was energized by its style and inventiveness. I was amazed by the sheer balls that it must have taken to write and to publish it. That's right: balls. Who, I wondered, would subject his obvious talent to being so misunderstood and maligned? Sure, there are writers who "push the envelope." But Motherfuckers does not just push the envelope. It beats at it with its fists, kicks, bites, and stabs the envelope. No matter how jaded a reader you are, no matter how much you've read your Henry Miller and Marquis de Sade, this is the book that will leave you feeling bad for the envelope. After Motherfuckers, it will never be the same again.

"This thing," I thought to myself, "out-Burroughs Burroughs." It did something I did not think possible: it carried the Boschian method of Naked Lunch to a new extreme, and it did that with exceedingly controversial subject matter. I almost didn't know what to make of it. Was this book an explosive new entry in the contemporary literary game?

I figured it out when Herbie Schopenhauer, the philosophical Volkswagen, meets Elvis Presley in Dachau. Elvis happens to say: "The same sun that brings out the lilies brings out the snakes." [MF 142] Eureka! I knew it. There is only one place in the world where that saying appears: Ted Morgan's Literary Outlaw, a biography of William S. Burroughs. Recognizing this, I knew where the author sought inspiration, and consequently I knew where to situate Motherfuckers. My intuition had been right. The book may out-Burroughs Burroughs, but that's its domain: the same avant-garde, cultish, transgressive form of literature produced by the author of Naked Lunch. Its delirium is not demented but deliberate. Motherfuckers is a literary work of the most serious intention and the highest art.

Far from condemning the work, as the judiciary would have it, the provocativeness of the Lord Horror franchise attests to its power and importance. Isn't that what great works do—not just pose questions about morality and art, which even inferior works can do, but pose those questions in a way that renews and reinvigorates them? Adorno's famous proclamation that "to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric" was meant to show why, in his words, it had become "impossible to write poetry today." But Savoy approaches it from the other direction: the strategy is not to refrain but to write in a deliberately barbaric way.

You get the sense that there is a wavering line between the author and his creation. Lord Horror is not a simple projection but rather a form of possession: "As Horror, I narrowed my eyes, letting the murk spread in my soul." [BBM 201] It puts an existential twist to the relationship. The question is not how the character stands in for the author, but how the author withstands the character.


• • • Kris Guidio: The new montage photo-shoot!

Kris Guidio

Kris Guidio, whacky artist-maestro of British comics, dons a clever persona, a one-man happy party, to celebrate putting ink on the final illustrations for La Squab: The Black Rose of Auschwitz, the fourth Lord Horror novel. Now complete, the book will be published late 2008.

Kris Guidio

In a homage to Heath Robinson, Kris has created six full-colour interior paintings, eighty full-page black-and-white illustrations and over a hundred spot illos. La Squab will be designed by John Coulthart. Steve Boyce-Buckley will co-produce the accompanying spoken word CD of extracts read by Fenella Fielding.

Echoes of Kris's fantastic drawings are to be found in his great personal visual flare. The Cramps thought of him as one of their own, and we'd be surprised if Fudge and Speck creator, Ken Reid, wasn't equally taken and amused with Kris's interpretations of his characters.

Kris Guidio

With this massive work, La Squab: The Black Rose of Auschwitz, we've come a long way from our first collaborations with Kris on the Lord Horror and Meng & Ecker comics. These appeared twenty years ago this year, during the turbulent period of police Chief Constable James Anderton's run-ins with Savoy. The first comics brought the wrath of hellfire on us, but actually helped to douse the fires of censorship for, as Mr K Seward says in his new forthcoming book Horror Panegyric (see above), although we escalated the conflict, and certain Savoy comics remain banned to this day, we won the war, since we are now able to publish works that transgress the norm without censor (if we are able to continue finding printers). Savoy remains the single genuinely transgressive British publisher.


• • • Fenella Keeps Rocking


Stephen Boyce-Buckley at the controls (photo by Andrew Price).

The gang congregated at Gracielands on 16th May 2007 to make further progress on the Fenella Fielding tracks. Under the spotlight that day were the brass section from Bury's Well Said, putting tremendous riffing saxes and trombone on 'The Animal In Me'. Under the musical direction of Andrew Price, members from the BBC Philharmonic added Bollywood strings to 'Angels' and 'Can't get You Out of My Head'. Right on the button Jackie Reid, fresh from performing with Heather Small, sang R&B soul on 'The Snake' and 'Angels'.

Photos by Michael Butterworth unless otherwise credited.


Jackie Reid.


Darren McLean (baritone sax), Gareth Hodge (trombone), Martin Entwhistle (tenor sax).


Andrew Price.


Clockwise from centre: Andrew Price (violin), Clare Dixon (violin), Martin Wallington (viola), Peter Dixon (cello), Steve B-B.


Peter Dixon.


Producer John Scott (photo by Andrew Price).

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• • • The Fenella Fielding Sessions, cont.

Savoy supremos David Britton and Michael Butterworth gathered again at the Gracieland Studios, Rochdale on 26th April to begin final recording and mixing of the forthcoming Fenella Fielding: The Savoy Sessions CD. With them were producer-in-chief Stephen Boyce Buckley, young blood Alex 'Fizzy Trance' and assorted brigands.

Photos by Michael Butterworth.

Studio Peter Saynor, our longest-standing musical associate, first contacted 23 years ago. Peter worked with us on 'Love Will Tear Us Apart', the Lord Horror version of 'Blue Monday' and other tracks. We brought him out of retirement to produce the present Fenella tracks, one of two new versions of 'Blue Monday' Fenella has sung for us, 'Big In Japan', 'The Beast In Me', etc. He has electronic rock'n'roll at his fingertips. A good man to have with us at The Alamo!
Studio John Scott, our most recently recruited masked rider and long-established on the Manchester music scene, enters the Savoy milieu with a Zappa-esque blend of rock-jazz (but not too much Jazz). He's producer on 'The Tale Of The Oyster', 'Passive Manipulation' (White Stripes), 'The Animal In Me', the old Marlene Dietrich ditty, 'Black Market', and others.


Jon Farmer (above), author of Sieg Heil Iconographers, the latest book from Savoy. One of the finest people to come to us in 20 years. A walking encyclopaedia of pop culture. No pantomime, media-slick man, Jon's pure rockabilly and full strength raw bottle, and all the better for it.


Darrel Higham, the Mr Big of English Rock'n'Roll. The best rock'n'roll singer/guitarist in the business. If Eddie Cochran had a son, he'd sound like this.


Darrel's corrosive guitar puts the stamp of real rock'n'roll on these Fenella Fielding recordings. His mighty riff for 'What'd I Say' opens New Order's 'Blue Monday' in a manner that will have Ian whirling dervishly in his mausoleum once again.


A bone-splitting guitar solo on 'Rusty Cage' had us all spellbound in the studio and he put enough whammy twang on 'Big in Japan' to kill Radiohead. All aboard the Higham Experience to Surreal City!

Adding to the atmosphere of this most Manchester rock'n'roll party were the studio's own Martin, Phil and Tim, who kept the usual elegant and tight ship. As last year, the sun shone benevolently into the gardens of the La Stansfield family and the primrose blooms fell in a blossom shroud on all of us in The Last Rock'n'Roll Redoubt.

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