:: Buzzwords Archive: December 2011. Click here for the latest posts.

The Missing Links (published 31/12/2011)


Edward Gorey‘s animated intro for PBS’ Mystery!. * Ill angelic poetics, a discussion of Edgar Allan Poe‘s ‘Dream-Land’. * Portrait of A Bookstore as an Old Man, a 2005 documentary on George Whitman. * Writers & their addictions. * I knew Christopher Hitchens better than you. * When Christopher Hitchens met Jorge Luis Borges. * Samuel Beckett‘s BBC Radio Plays, 1958-1991 [MP3]. * Do the classics have a future? * How digital is reviving subscription publishing. * Textal harassment. * Sukhdev Sandhu on his teenage passion for The Smiths. * China Mieville on M.R. James & hauntology. * David Lynch‘s Ruth Roses & Revolver. * Ezra Pound‘s daughter aims to stop Italian fascist group using father’s name. * Jenny Hendrix on the afterlife of Tintin. * Readings & interviews with Henry Miller. * Interview with Maurice Girodias. * Walter Benjamin‘s Paris address book. * Saul Leiter & the typographic fragment. * Teju Cole‘s Wall Street & Brooklyn Bridge. * Jamel Shabazz‘s street snaps of 80s Brooklyn. * Stuart Kelly on the best books of 1911.

In Search of Barney Bubbles (published 30/12/2011)


BBC Radio 4, 4pm, Bank Holiday Monday, 2 January 2012

Written and presented by Mark Hodkinson.
Produced by Mark Hodkinson and Ian Bent.

Elvis Costello, Ian Dury, Depeche Mode, The Damned, Hawkwind, Nick Lowe and hundreds more owe a debt of gratitude to the tragic artist Barney Bubbles for shaping their image through radical record sleeves and posters. Nymphs floating into outer space, Ferris Wheels sparkling against a cityscape, faces made from light bulbs, paper clips and cassette tapes… this is all the work of Barney Bubbles.

Bubbles (real name, Colin Fulcher) was a designer with roots in both the commercial world (he worked for Sir Terence Conran and created the ‘archer’ logo for Strongbow Cider) and the London underground scene of the 1960s/early 1970s where his Notting Hill-based company, Teenburger Designs, contributed to Oz and Friendz and numerous record sleeves. His work, often drug-fuelled, was an imagination set loose – colourful, playful, three-dimensional, merging the prosaic with the profound. He was appointed designer and art director at Stiff Records and devised innovative marketing concepts. Elvis Costello’s ‘My Aim is True’ included adverts in three UK music papers from which a poster of Costello could be constructed. Ian Dury’s ‘Do It Yourself’ sleeve came in 28 slightly different ‘wallpaper’ versions.

He was a key player in the explosion of 7” records in the punk and post-punk era. Before, singles had come in plain paper bags or with generic label artwork – Bubbles and his peers saw them as a mini-canvas to complement the music within. Later, he directed several pop videos, including ‘Ghost Town’ by The Specials and singles by Squeeze, Fun Boy Three and Elvis Costello.

In the early 1980s Bubbles fell out-of-favour, with little demand or acclaim for his work. He had suffered regular bouts of depression and his behaviour had become erratic, involving incidents of self-harm. Amid personal and financial worries, he committed suicide in 1983 at the age of 43. Since his death, his work has been re-evaluated and its influence acknowledged. Sleeve art has also become seen as an art-form in its own right and its loss mourned in the download age. He is seen as seminal influence on the YBA scene of the early 1990s, inspiring the likes of Damien Hirst and Jay Jopling.

The programme looks closely at the times Bubbles lived through – hippy, idealistic 1960s to punk/new wave of the late 1970s/80s; his often-troubled life; and his lasting legacy. Key contributors include figures from the rock industry, close friends and family, and fellow designers.

3:AM Awards 2011 (published 29/12/2011)


3:AM Novel of the Year 2011
Lars IyersSpurious (Melville House)


3:AM Poetry Book of the Year 2011
Will Stone‘s Drawing in Ash (Salt Publishing)


3:AM Non-fiction Book of the Year 2011
The Letters of Samuel Beckett: Volume 2, 1941-1956 (Cambridge University Press)


3:AM Album of the Year 2011
Bon Iver’s Bon Iver (4AD)


3:AM Film of the Year 2011
Melancholia, dir. Lars Von Trier


3:AM Magazine of the Year 2011
The White Review


3:AM Publisher of the Year 2011
And Other Stories


3:AM Website of the Year 2011
The Other Room


3:AM Blog of the Year 2011
Time’s Flow Stemmed

(See the 3:AM Awards 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2010.)