Michael Moorcock: Full Circle
During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s it seemed that my drawing board as often as not would be occupied by a Michael Moorcock project of one sort of another. Paperback cover commissions came in at a steady rate as well as illustrations for the Elric at the End of Time book, etc.
Below are a couple of examples:
‘In the Flamelands’ was commissioned in 1979 by Granada books for the front cover of Moorcock’s The Knight of the Swords, the first book in his "Corum" trilogy. ‘The Hound Master of Kerenos’ (my title) was again a Granada commission, this time for the cover of The Bull and the Spear - it shows a warrior of the "Fhoi Myore" accompanied by one of the ferocious hunting dogs of "Kerenos".
In 1980 I was asked to supply pencil drawings and a full colour frontispiece for Archival Press, in the United States, who had acquired rights to publish a version of Michael Moorcock’s Stormbringer as a hardback. In those days artwork was usually transferred by shooting professional transparencies, 10 x 8 inches or 5 x 4 inches, of the subject and sending these by post to the customer. I despatched my colour trans of 'The Devil Riders of Pan Tang', but for some reason, Archival wanted actual pencil artworks to print from. I made the mistake of complying with their wishes and, of course, never saw the original sketches again. Despite my insistence, the works were not returned. Fortunately, you are able to view this selection because I took photographs. As far as I am aware, that particular edition of Stormbringer was not published – looks like I was conned!
THE DEVIL RIDERS OF PAN TANG, 1980, INKS
'ELRIC' (TOP LEFT), 'THE ROAD TO NIHRAIN' (TOP CENTRE), 'JAGREEN LERN' (TOP RIGHT), 'PYARAY OF CHAOS' (MIDDLE LEFT), 'JARMAYS THE CROOKED' (MIDDLE CENTRE), 'IMRRYIAN GALLEY' (MIDDLE RIGHT) AND 'ELRIC AND DYVIM SLORM' (BOTTOM)
I’m now going to break this up with a little light entertainment – one of the many Matthews "piddle" stories. It was during the time when I was knee-deep in Michael’s stuff, the late seventies, that I was in London visiting some record companies. I had finished the day’s meetings and driving back to Bristol via West London, I became aware that my bladder needed emptying. In the absence of both public toilets and parking facilities, I soldiered on in the belief that I could just about reach the M4 services before exploding. Alas, I became embroiled in the rush hour traffic and barely moved an inch for what seemed like hours. Then an amazing thought came to mind – ‘I’m right near Mike’s place’ – I could visit, uninvited, and assuming he answered the door right away I could (after exchanging a minimum of pleasantries) barge past him to his bog (UK)/rest room (USA), and urinate for England! I hurtled into Blenheim Crescent, but where could I park? There were no spaces! But then I noticed half a space on a corner where a gas maintenance van was parked in front of a hole in the road. I reversed into said space with great and desperate commitment, so much so that I collided with the front of the van, reducing my rear lights to a pile of powdered red plastic. Despite the jolting of the van (in which a couple of workers were enjoying their break) there was minimal damage to it, and after the occupants had mopped spilt tea off themselves, they (noticing my double discomfort) told me to ‘bugger off’ in a light hearted manner. I stumbled up to Michael’s front door, where I hammered on it loudly – nothing – I hammered again – nothing – how dare he be out in my time of need? With diminishing possibilities I climbed into a neighbours front garden and watered the flower beds. Mr Moorcock was fortunate that he did not receive an unwelcome visitation through his letterbox!
Years rolled by, and more (I couldn’t stop them!), and I lost contact with Michael who went to live in the US. Contact with Peter has been sporadic and not in a business capacity. My Moorcock portfolio has lain dormant for some 35 years, except that Sarah and I have published a range of limited edition prints, which we are adding to now and again. These can be found on our website store. I thought that was the end of my Michael Moorcock story, until ... we received an email from Jerad Walters and his company Centipede Press. He was working on a series of Moorcock collectors books, signed by author and artists.
I was commissioned to produce several illustrations including a wrap around front cover for a new version of Stormbringer. These would be added to a collection of my 1980 pencil drawings that Jerad Walters had retrieved from (wait for it), Archival Press. I shall say no more, except have a look at this little collection of my most recent Moorcock inspired work.
THE HUNTING TIGERS OF PAN TANG, 2017, PENCIL AND INKS SHOWN FOR COMPARISON
THE FOUR OF PROPHECY, 2018, INKS
THE SHIPS OF DEATH, 2018, INKS
ELRIC KILLS JAGREEN LERN, 2018, INKS
ELRIC AND FLAMEFANG, 2018, INKS
That's it for this week!
All the best,