Aris Fioretos - The book situates itself in a region beyond criticism but this side of literature, characterized by forgetting and finitude, and investigating important yet seemingly inaccessible "gray areas" in texts as old as those of Homer, and as recent as those of Beckett

Cover of The Gray Book by Aris Fioretos
Aris Fioretos, The Gray Book, Stanford University Press, 1999.
extract: arisfioretos.com/en/the-gray-book/

Generally considered the least lively and most bleak of casts, gray is the taint of vagueness and uncertainty. This book situates itself in a region beyond criticism but this side of literature, characterized by forgetting and finitude, and investigating important yet seemingly inaccessible "gray areas" in texts as old as those of Homer, and as recent as those of Beckett.

Generally considered the least lively and most bleak of casts, gray is the taint of vagueness and uncertainty. Marking the threshold region where luminous life seems suspended but death has not yet darkened the horizon, it belongs to an evasive and evanescent world, carrying the tint of smoke, fog, ashes, and dust. As the ambiguous space of thought and remembrance where things blend and blur, gray measures the difference between distance and proximity, shading into tinges of hesitation, hues of taciturnity, tones of time past and lost. Thus it may also be the spectral medium of literature itself—that grainy gas of language.

Written with a lead pencil akin to those found in Nabokov, Rilke, Svevo, Poe, and Dickinson, The Gray Book chronicles the vicissitudes of such equivocal articulation—registering the graphite traces it leaves behind but also recording the dwindling span of its life. The book situates itself in a region beyond criticism but this side of literature, characterized by forgetting and finitude, and investigating important yet seemingly inaccessible "gray areas" in texts as old as those of Homer, and as recent as those of Beckett.

Loosely arranging these literary finds according to a revision of the four elements, The Gray Book distances itself from tradition and treats not water but tears, not fire but vapor, not earth but grain, not air but clouds. The narrative thus construed, proceeding in the meandering movements of volatile thought rather than in the prudent steps of a treatise, appears gradually affected by its subject. Themes and facts previously confined to the realm of quoted texts leak into the narrative itself. The border between fiction and fact slowly dissolves as the book approaches the curious void that the author locates at the heart of "gray literature." Shaped by an omnipresent though increasingly unreliable narrator, The Gray Book may thus ultimately yield a poetics cast in the form of a ghost story.

In Aris Fioretos’s odd and beautiful essay about grayness, its shapes and secrets, the richest of contents is extracted from this color of dearth and boredom.” — Allt om Böcker

“He writes with elegance. The style is both winding, searching, and utterly self-conscious . . . There are purely lyrical passages, many beautiful sections, and deft transitions in the text. At times, its lyrical, associative flow is interrupted, just in order to take a new turn and gain another cogency. Aris Fioretos is not afraid. He obviously knows what he is doing when publishing a book like this, so seductive and well-written, arguing against all narrow strictures of genre, yet anchored in solid theory. The reading turns kaleidoscopic, stimulating in abundance . . .” — Pär-Yngve Andersson

“Fioretos has written an essay as beautiful as poetry.” — Nina Björk

“If you have dealt with books for a long time, it is almost unavoidable not to be enthused by Fioretos’s rhapsody in gray. . . . Despite his sharp ear for dissonance, he seems to me an extremely talented hunter for correspondences, in search of mysterious harmonies between sounds, colors, figures, and flourishes wherever they may be detected. . . . One has to consider the para-littérateur happy.” – Anders Cullhed

“He offers readings which are absolutely dizzying in terms of erudition and speculative acumen. . . . With Den grå boken, Fioretos enters the domain of poetry. The result is literature at the highest level.” — Carl-Henrik Fredriksson

“. . . if one is attracted by Aris Fioretos’s elaborate style, so abundantly full of images, his book offers an almost bottomless source of inspiration and knowledge.” — Gabriella Håkansson

“[Book of the year] You have heard about food eroticism, but pencil pornography, what could that be? It is when everything that is gray, always associated with ennui and death, suddenly appears as sexier than banal colors. Aris Fioretos has succeeded in making this lamented non-color so delicious that you want to sink your teeth into it, wrap your tongue around it . . . Book of the year.” — Ulrika Kärnborg

“[Book of the year] Aris Fioretos, The Gray Book. This is the only book this year which has given me palpable, indeed physical, pleasure.” — Nina Lekander

“. . . a rare, almost incomparable book . . .” — Mikael van Reis
Image result for Aris Fioretos, The Truth About Sascha Knisch,
Aris Fioretos, The Truth About Sascha Knisch, Vintage, 2007.
extract: arisfioretos.com/en/the-truth-about-sascha-knisch/

'My name is Knisch, Sascha Knisch, and six days ago my life was in perfect order.'
Knisch, who works as a projectionist at the Apollo movie theatre, is a person with special sexual habits. One night, he sees the enigmatic Dora Wilms. A week later, she is dead and Knisch is charged with murder. As he tries to clear his name, he discovers a scientific conspiracy and is drawn into the rich tangle of a story in which nothing is as it seems. How can he prove what didn't happen? What goes on at the Foundation for Sexual Research? And why is it important to have testicles?
A biological thriller set in the steamy underworlds of Weimar Berlin in the sweltering summer of 1928, The Truth about Sascha Knisch deals with the so-called 'sexual question', its lures and seductiveness, dangers and temptations, but also with the shrewd passion between two young people in a Germany at the brink of disaster.

The kinky sex business in pre-Hitler Germany spawns a suspicious death in a murky novel by Swedish author Knisch that often reads more like a treatise than a thriller.
It’s the summer of 1928 in an unnamed city that is evidently Berlin. The narrator, 29-year-old Sascha Knisch, moved there a few years earlier from his hometown, Vienna; he’s a part-time projectionist at a movie theater. Sascha is also a transvestite who makes regular visits to Dora Wilms, who’s a softer version of a dominatrix. Their current session is interrupted by the doorbell. Sascha, dressed as a schoolgirl, hides in the closet. He later emerges to find the visitor gone and Dora dead. That’s the setup, but don’t expect a suspenseful narrative. For most of the novel Dora is alive, in flashbacks; we don’t learn until almost the end whether she died of natural causes. What’s front and center is the “sexual question,” by which Fioretos means the “obscure drives” that shape sexual identities. For Sascha the key moment came in a high-school art class, when Sascha was the model and his fellow students, prompted by their teacher, drew him as a woman. Dora’s past involved exhibitionism, sex with her brother, a teenage pregnancy and a baby given up for adoption. Their interests take them to the Foundation for Sexual Research, where they learn about the “grey sex” and the wondrous properties of semen and testicles. Periodically Fioretos returns to the investigation, while adding complications. Is some missing film the key to Dora’s death? Is Sascha’s best friend Anton, a porn filmmaker, playing a double game? What is the significance of the Brotherhood, a band of vigilantes? A final difficulty: Fioretos wrote his novel in his native Swedish. His own translation leads to some awkward locutions (e.g., “my heart inched up a few notches.”)
A dismal farrago that illuminates neither character nor sexuality. - Kirkus Reviews

Swedish author Fioretos’s first novel to be translated into English is an eerie, erotic tale set in 1928 Berlin about a part-time movie projectionist turned accused killer. Sascha Knisch’s humdrum life turns scandalous after Dora Wilms, the madam who indulges him in his peculiar sexual tastes, is found dead. Sascha becomes suspect number one, and to try to prove his innocence, he digs into Dora’s mysterious past, uncovering a psychosexual plot involving one of Dora’s former confidantes and the sinister Foundation for Sexual Research. But the more Sascha learns about the plot and Dora’s possible involvement, the less makes sense to Sascha. Simultaneously, Sascha reflects on what is obliquely referred to as the “sexual question” and tries to discover his “true self.” An odd supporting cast of characters—most notably “One-legged Else”—provide comic relief in this dense and atmospheric novel. It has all the markings of a cult favorite. - Publishers Weekly

Set in the oppressively hot summer of 1928 Berlin, this is a fascinating, though often obscure novel. The eponymous Sascha is an occasional cross-dresser with an intimate friendship with Dora, a similarly part-time prostitute. There are multiple time changes throughout the novel, but the essence of the story concerns the apparent murder of Dora by an unknown visitor, while Sascha is hiding in her closet in her flat (whilst also enjoying the proximity of her hanging clothes!) and the subsequent requirement for Sascha to exonerate himself from police suspicion and find out who did it. Unfortunately for the reader, however, Sascha is the archetypal unreliable narrator, and leads us down various blind alleys flinging in our direction a variety of red herrings along the way. The other major theme of the novel is a wide variety of (then) legally dubious theories of sexual-culture and research in decadent Weimar Germany, which emerges, according to Sascha, as the key to the mystery. The reader is shown sufficient glimpses of the emerging nationalist and intolerant right-wing movement in Berlin that was soon in the following decade to sweep off the streets those such as Sascha and others involved in what it considered as perverted and decidedly un-German activities.
Such is the overall fog of the plot that at the end the reader is not totally sure what happened and who was responsible, though the epilogue either solves the conundrum or just adds another possible interpretation. The story demands effort and certainly there is no clear conclusion, but I enjoyed the ride. -   https://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/the-truth-about-sascha-knisch/

‘This is the first novel in English by this rising international lit star, and what a smashing erotic thriller it turns out to be.’ — Diane Anderson-Minshall
‘Aris Fioretos has many similarites to Vladimir Nabokov, whose works he has translated into Swedish. Like Nabokov, Fioretos has a profound knowledge of English, which is not his first language. . . . His prose style, too, is playful, attentive and deft (at one stage, in classically Nabokovian style, a man is described and dismissed in four parenthetic words — “moist forehead, nervous hands”). But the similarities are not overbearing, and Fioretos has his own voice. Most impressively, he is able to make it seem that something macabre is happening just off-camera, something that is being deliberately withheld. As a result, the reader has to keep coming up with ideas about what the next twist or payload will be; few, however, will work out the denouement in advance. There is a conflict in this novel between the dramatic and the poetic. There is the classic, noir-ish murder story and the ensuing revelations that move the narrative along. But the dense, colourful writing insists that the eye stops to admire just as it wants to return to the action. The clash is a strength rather than a weakness, since it creates an energy of its own, as the reader tries to balance the need to rush on and the urge to slow down. By the end of this involved, at times wilfully oblique, novel, the truth about Sascha Knisch may remain uncertain, but the formidable qualities of his creator have been well established.’ — Simon Baker

‘A stylish, intelligent and eerily entertaining novel.’ — Tom Boncza-Tomaszewski
‘In a world dominated by extremes, Fioretos, a Swedish-born novelist living in Berlin, presents an honest and astonishing study of the marginalized and often stigmatized people who attempt to exist between the two, specifically, those who don’t fit neatly into traditional sexual roles. . . . This extraordinary novel is destined to be much discussed and is highly recommended for public and academic libraries.’ — K. H. Cumiskey

‘When Sascha Knisch finally totters from the closet on high heels, in his yellow blouse, brassiere stuffed with napkins, his hair braided and a red satin bow tied around his rampant . . . (well, use your imagination), there is a body on the bed, and his life — previously in perfect order — will never be the same again. There is much to marvel at in this often hilarious erotic thriller set in the hot summer of 1928 in Berlin. Aris Fioretos expertly explores the camp edge of Weimar Germany, a society pressing at social and sexual boundaries but also yearning for order and preparing itself, unconsciously perhaps, for authoritarianism.’ — Matthew Lewin 

Sascha’s sexual needs are quite prominent in this funny, unusual novel by a sublimely gifted all-rounder. Set in cabaret country, between the wars Berlin, it’s a whodunnit seething with enough deviancy to make you not care whodidit. The tale twists and turns like an orgy at a contortionists’ convention. It’s quite funny, too; clever without being smart-arse.’ Sunday Sports

‘. . . It’s hard to imagine a sexy, sophisticated urban thriller . . . Yet Aris Fioretos, a Swedish diplomat based in Germany, manages exactly that in The Truth about Sascha Knisch. Any fan of Isherwood or Cabaret won’t find the ambience too remote: decadent Berlin in summer 1928, as our decent hero with a little quirk (he’s a cross-dresser) finds himself caught up in a murder plot that leads not only to the pioneer sexologists of Weimar but a macho cult with far more sinister connections. Fioretos (who translates his own work, with panache) seduces with a fiendish plot and a risqué wit. . . .’  Boyd Tonkin

Image result for Aris Fioretos, Word Traces: Readings of Paul Celan,

Aris Fioretos, Word Traces: Readings of Paul Celan, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
extract: http://arisfioretos.com/en/word-traces-readings-of-paul-celan/

The fact that Paul Celan's poems have already anticipated and explored the complicated relation between poetry and reading seems to have served Aris Fioretos as the selective criterion and raison d'être for the unique constellation of essays that Word Traces represents. What distinguishes this collection of articles on Celan from previous ones is their attention to Celan's insistence on the singularity of his texts. This means that the contributors are willing to (re-)trace the specific way in which Celan's texts raise the enigma of their (un)readability as it is inscribed in word-traces left in particular poems and across Celan's oeuvre.
Fioretos has divided the volume in five segments, each of which contains three essays that emphasize -- albeit differently -- the specific relations and constellations in which word-traces have been articulated by Celan. Although some might argue about the in- and exclusion of particular contributions, especially given that many essays have already appeared elsewhere (although not always in English translation), the segments and articles chosen by Fioretos address the most pertinent aspects of contemporary literary criticism and continental philosophy. Thus, the volume achieves a multiplicity of goals: it reads Celan in the light of contemporary criticism, casting a light from the former onto the latter; it (hopefully) introduces Celan to a larger, predominantly English-speaking world of contemporary critics; it demonstrates the political dimensions of poetic activity and critical reading; and it underscores the relevance of patient, attentive readings of seemingly hermetic texts for any specialist willing to probe the limits of his/her discipline, including those study programs (cultural, modern, German, comparative, etc.) that call themselves interdisciplinary.
Given Celan's poetic and political concentration on singularity, any reading that seeks to do justice to this concentration is bound to be(come) political. And any reading is bound to consider the possibility, if not necessity, that it will miss its mark, that it will miss the "masked difference of languages" (32) in Celan's poem as well as the "differential mark" (28) that constitutes the secret of Celan's poetry. This at least according to Jacques Derrida, whose "Shibboleth: For Paul Celan" has in more than one way been singled out by Fioretos: it is the sole entry for the first segment, which, like Word Traces itself, uses a quote or title from Celan as its title; it is unique in that it "first" raises the difficulty of reading Celan's poetic singularity; and it is unique because it unfolds this difficulty in reading the traces of the differential mark and its possible corruption in the "single" word and poem entitled Shibboleth:
Derrida's reading of Celan's poetry is exemplary not because it is authoritative, but because it allows itself to be exposed to the "cut," which, in turn, opens a space for the other readings to explore, among them Werner Hamacher's essay, "The Second of Inversion: Movements of a Figure Through Celan's Poetry."
Hamacher takes up Celan's and Derrida's concern for that same "cut of a nonsignifying difference," and explores it as the effect that the temporality and figurality of Celan's poetic language has upon its own readability. As his title demonstrates, Hamacher traces the cut to and in the rhetorical figure most likely to dissimulate it: the politico-philosophical figure of inversion, a figure that has dominated speculative dialectics as well as the tradition of a poetic conception of subjectivity. By tracing the movement of inversion in Celan's poetry, Hamacher is able to show how Celan gradually moves from a poetics of...  - Volker Kaiser  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236828539_Word_Traces_Readings_of_Paul_Celan_review

A professor of Aesthetics at Södertörn University in Stockholm, Sweden, Aris Fioretos was educated at Stockholm and Yale Universities. The recipient of numerous prizes and fellowships, most recently from the Swedish Academy and All Souls College, Oxford, he has published several novels and book-length essays in his native Sweden and has rendered the works of Paul Auster, Friedrich Hölderlin, and Vladimir Nabokov into Swedish. His latest, award-winning novel is entitled The Last Greek (2009). Fioretos is also the general editor of the first commented edition of the complete works of Nelly Sachs in German.

Linor Goralik - In turn hilarious and heart-rending, her fictions and poems bristle with epiphanies, with jolts of comprehension and, just as commonly, of vertiginous incomprehension. A literary descendant of Daniil Kharms, the conceptualists, and Chekhov

Image result for Linor Goralik, Found Life : Poems, Stories, Comics, a Play, and an Interview,

Found Life

Linor Goralik, Found Life : Poems, Stories, Comics, a Play, and an Interview, Ed. by Ainsley Morse, Maria Vassileva, and Maya Vinokour. Columbia University Press, 2017.


One of the first Russian writers to make a name for herself on the Internet, Linor Goralik writes conversational short works that conjure the absurd in all its forms, reflecting post-Soviet life and daily universals. Her mastery of the minimal, including a wide range of experiments in different forms of micro-prose, is on full display in this collection of poems, stories, comics, a play, and an interview, here translated for the first time. In Found Life, speech, condensed to the extreme, captures a vivid picture of fleeting interactions in a quickly moving world. Goralik's works evoke an unconventional palette of moods and atmospheres-slight doubt, subtle sadness, vague unease-through accumulation of unexpected details and command over colloquial language. While calling up a range of voices, her works are marked by a distinct voice, simultaneously slightly naive and deeply ironic. She is a keen observer of the female condition, recounting gendered tribulations with awareness and amusement. From spiritual rabbits and biblical zoos to poems about loss and comics about poetry, Goralik's colorful language and pervasive dark comedy capture the heights of absurdity and depths of grief.

Linor Goralik is a Renaissance woman of our own day, writing (and drawing!) in a wide range of genres, all with sharp intelligence. Her writing is fresh and thought-provoking, with both profound insight and deadpan humor. The numerous translators allow exploration of different aspects of Goralik’s voice, so that this selection of work offers the reader a wonderful variety and versatility. A beautiful and important book! -   Sibelan Forrester

Linor Goralik has a perfect ear for the wander and wonder of ordinary speech, for the way the weirdness of human language conveys the weirdness of human experience. In turn hilarious and heart-rending, her fictions and poems bristle with epiphanies, with jolts of comprehension and, just as commonly, of vertiginous incomprehension. A literary descendant of Daniil Kharms, the conceptualists, and Chekhov, this transnational writer-ventriloquist describes a world of multiple realities, including that of the supernatural, but she is also painstakingly precise in her depictions of male and female behavior in post-Soviet space. The editors and translators are to be praised for, among many other things, finding the idiomatic and colloquial American English to convincingly express the alive Russian of the original. -   Eugene Ostashevsky

Quietly subversive works of imagination from a Ukraine-born Russian/Israeli writer who describes herself as an essayist.
In Putin’s Russia, is there such a thing as a Valley girl? To judge by some of the aperçus in this collection by pop-culture phenom Goralik, we might conclude that indeed there is: "How old is he? Probably pushing fifty. Gray hair, I always loved that type. You know, he did ballet as a kid, then worked for the KGB, so, like, basically a real inspired dude.” Well into her 40s, though, Goralik mostly writes with a mature distance. One story, in its entirety, is a flash-fiction masterpiece: "The wife comes home and the cat smells like someone else’s perfume.” It’s a few words more than Hemingway spent on baby shoes, but it’s a compressed gem all the same. Often as gritty as a Brassaï photograph, Goralik’s sketches, some originally published on the Web, center on ordinary scenes: American tourists gawk before the Kremlin, an Easter card curdles in a puddle of mud, a battered woman puts on makeup in a restaurant, unselfconscious and apparently unshaken. At times Goralik drifts into dreams—as with one fellow who, in the nightmare of missing a long-ago exam, discovers that he can no longer remember the Russian of the Soviet era—but seldom indulges in surrealism; her work is notable for its matter-of-factness, no matter how absurd the scenario. This anthology gathers work from across several genres, from those short works to some longer pieces such as the Bulgakov-worthy story “Agatha Goes Home” and the novella Valerii, as well as poems, plays, and even a sequence of cartoons that are somewhat reminiscent of Chris Ware’s, if much darker: in one, a bunny lists off all the vices he doesn’t indulge in, from smoking to drinking and gambling, “because all that might distract me from important suicidal thoughts.”
A welcome collection from a writer worth hearing more from—so translators, get busy. - Kirkus Reviews

Russian-Israeli writer, poet, playwright, and installation artist Linor Goralik first entered the literary scene around 2001 as a prolific LiveJournal poster. A workaholic founder of new-media discourses, she soon became a fixture of the early Russian-language Internet. Perhaps because it originated in the blogosphere, Goralik’s writing often seems aimed at a narrow circle of insiders—an impression fostered by the remarkable intimacy of her style and her excellent eye for detail. This last quality enables Goralik to be political without veering into preachiness or polemic. For example, her ongoing “Five stories about…” series presents topical vignettes from the life of Russia’s liberal intelligentsia that, at first glance, seem entirely divorced from politics. Identified only by their white-collar professions and a single initial, Goralik’s characters are shown simply moving through life: going through passport control, dealing with a mole infestation at the dacha, or declining a favorite nephew’s request to photograph his upcoming orgy. For all their understated irony, these little fables often end with a devastating twist. Each one begins with a mock-hypothetical “So, let’s say…” followed by an anecdote of such lapidary specificity that it seems drawn from directly observed reality. One entry from April 2014 reads:
So, let’s say classics professor S. tells her students that, when considering the culture of the Roman Empire, it’s important to note how small the number of truly educated people really was. And that the entire intellectual elite of Caesar’s time could have fit into two to three paddy wagons.
What is this story about? The words “let’s say” recall the beginning of a mathematical proof, suggesting we’re about to witness the impartial demonstration of a general principle. The next line only intensifies this impression with its neutral invocations of the nearly nameless “classics professor” and the cultural values of ancient Rome. But the final sentence—specifically, the reference to “paddy wagons,” which police have been stuffing full of protesters since the “Snow Revolution” of 2011–12—makes it clear that S. can only be a Russian intellectual speaking to a group of like-minded peers. Slow-burn syllogisms like this one belie Goralik’s claim that she doesn’t “give a shit” about politics, as she told journalist Yulia Idlis in 2010.
Much of Goralik’s work, including the pieces below, relies on this kind of reversal. After carefully constructing the illusion of sober abstraction, she tops it with a detail that brings the entire structure tumbling down to earth. Sometimes this detail acts as a punchline (as in the cartoon, here, from the Bunnypuss strip); at other times, it is more like a Chekhovian pointe, requiring several lines, paragraphs, or pages to emerge. Even as Goralik addresses topics specific to the contemporary Russian context, such as the effects of Western sanctions or the lingering traumas of Stalinism, she also pushes universal emotional buttons. Sudden sartorial upsets, a snub from a colleague, a misinterpreted remark: Goralik excels in wresting these small moments from a sea of higher-profile troubles.
Just as we can discern the ancestors of the novel—the letter and the diary—in eighteenth-century exemplars of the genre, so too does Goralik’s writing betray its roots in the anarchic, confessional culture of early Runet. Even on paper, Goralik’s texts retain an intimacy and immediacy, a sense of just having been overheard, that digital natives associate with online posting. They are also eminently shareable, which is what compelled me to translate them in the first place—so I could keep on laughing and cringing, this time with English-speaking friends. Maya Vinokour http://www.musicandliterature.org/features/2017/11/3/the-poetry-of-linor-goralik

David Britton – The Citizen Kane of Bad Taste. Truly radical, vicious, psychedelic satire about a Nazi DJ (Lord Horror) in England after Germany wins World War II

Razor King

David Britton, Razor King, Savoy Books, 2017.

Razor King is David Britton's seventh novel. His first, Lord Horror, published in 1989, was the last book to be banned in Britain under the Obscene Publications Act. In a defence led by Geoffrey Robertson QC the book was cleared of obscenity in July 1992.
The new novel continues Britton's cycle of Absurdist picaresque narratives, a series replete with scatological routines and outlandish tableaux. Razor King draws shockingly on the Jewish Holocaust, following the transgressive speculative-fiction lineage of JG Ballard and William S Burroughs while embracing the fin de siècle psychedelia of Alfred Jarry and Harry Clarke.
In Razor King two unconnected worlds and genres collide: the Wild West/Westerns, and outer space/planetary adventure. Key influences are the fantastical works of two of Adolf Hitler's favourite novelists: Karl May, a German author whose Western tales include characters such as Old Shatterhand and Winnetou the Warrior; and Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose Mars trilogy (A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars, The Warlord of Mars) prefigures many of the popular fictional styles—sword and sorcery, heroic fantasy, science fiction—of later decades. Britton brings to the surface the psychotic undercurrents that often fuel these genres to create a phantasmagoria grounded in real historical events.
Continuing a trend begun with La Squab in 2012, Razor King is illustrated throughout by Kris Guidio.

Abel Diaz sends his impressions of the latest from David Britton:
"Razor King arrived like some insurgent ambush into my complacent, unguarded mailbox. It is another exceptional entry in an already exceptional body of work, but the chapters that really stand out for me are:
"'The Horror, the Kike and the Cake' for its opening salvo of dark humor that remained the funniest chapter throughout. The introduction of Dolly Lolly, his absurd mission and his candy-planet origins was ingenious, and it breathed new life into the Horror universe. He made for a more interesting foil or sidekick to Lord Horror than La Squab does. In addition, the contrast of Dolly's innocence against the horrid landscape of Auschwitozaliala and his confusion about his purpose for being there was much more enthralling to me than Lord Horror's hubris and pomposity. This was a damn fine beginning that set a terrific tone for the rest of the book.
"'Pipsqueak on the Take' for its sustained, fantastic imagery delivered in that luxurious prose I deeply love. I never suspected there was cosmic horror to be found in popcorn, but now I'm convinced: 'In actual fact, Lolly was in the middle of a field of popcorn, its buttery yellow shells puffing out a spoory vapour that danced with purpose through the air'.
"That passage harkens back to some of the finest, quietly unsettling atmosphere invoked in the first Lord Horror novel. 'He was well accustomed to receiving emissions from space "I speak to, and of, and for, nations; I speak to, and of, and for, nations; I speak to, and of, and for, nations" Lord Horror had concluded that the voice was a kind of countdown, pitched to give the impression of gradually fading. But he was sure it was not a broadcast from earth; it seemed to arise from somewhere beyond Jupiter."
"I savour these strange and haunting moments in these novels. To me, there is something more fundamentally valuable about this writing than the shock and awe that gets all the attention. If these books had been just a collection of racist jokes and offensive antics, I would have quit reading them long ago. I have stayed in love because time and time again, in certain paragraphs and pages hidden here and there amid the chaos, I have found the most incredible examples of cosmic horror, surreal decadence and weird fantasy that I have ever read in my life. That is no exaggeration.
"I also found Chapter 3, 'In the Belly of the Dolly Varden', to be especially interesting as a sort of Weird Wind in the Willows. It set my mind to dreaming about the existence of an entire novel featuring these vicious little badgers, ferrets and rats, plundering the Seven Seas and butchering all that crossed their path. In my imagination, this slim and superlative volume is titled The Pyrate King in Yellow or perhaps The Sea-Wolves of Torenbürgen.
"To my surprise, my favorite character this time around was not Lord Horror. He stood buried in the long, deep shadow cast by Dolly Lolly Pop. This interplanetary traveler was a fantastic creation. He stole every scene he was in, so much so that I admit that I grew impatient waiting for Dolly to return while reading certain chapters. His transformation from confectionary angel to repentant man-eater was phenomenal; it WAS the book for me. And I was so angry when Lord Horror ate that beautiful little bastard that I had to put the book down for several minutes. Like the inspired recreation of the Ononoes before him, Dolly Lolly Pop will stay long in my mind and heart.
"Julien Gracq once wrote, 'What I want from a literary critic 'contribution' to literature and the enrichment it is supposed to bring me, know that I will marry even without a dowry.'
It is in this spirit and according to this philosophy (which I agree with completely) that I have tried to share my thoughts. I know that I'm no Julien Gracq, but this is why it has never been very important to me to champion Savoy as descendants of whatever important dead authors or to debate the morality of writing such books in the first place. (For the record, I am half Ashkenazi Jew but agree absolutely with Wilde that there is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book, and these books are NOT badly written at all.) What I have tried to do (with spectacular failure, I'm sure!) is to communicate what I loved and what spoke to me and what excited me. I feel that I have been privileged to watch something unique and incredible unfold. This is art of the highest quality.
"Let me end by saying:
"Dolly Lolly Pop über alles, meine Freunde!!!" - http://www.savoy.abel.co.uk/

La Squab
David Britton, La Squab: The Black Rose of Auschwitz,  Savoy Books, 2012.

Masquerading as a book for children ... At once loony and dangerous, La Squab relates a picaresque river journey down a Thames whose metaphysical qualities exist only in Mr Britton s imagination ... The final destination is a submerged Auschwitz conjured afresh beneath the mighty Thames. There La Squab s playful romp through literature and topsy-turvy morals reveals that all is not always well in the end!

La Squab by David Britton represents a departure from the author’s reputation as the creator of Lord Horror, the last novel to be banned in Britain.
Masquerading as a book for children, the primary inspirations of La Squab are The Wind in the Willows—if Grahame’s classic had been re-written by Adolf Hitler!—and the ‘Fudge & Speck’ comic strip created by celebrated Beano cartoonist Ken Reid.
At once loony and dangerous, La Squab relates a picaresque river journey down a Thames whose metaphysical qualities exist only in Mr Britton’s imagination. Along the way, favourite children’s characters such as Tiger Tim, Angel Face and Weary Willie & Tired Tim are encountered, together with real-life historical figures Alfred Jarry, Sigmund Freud, Leni Riefenstahl, and Lord Horror’s treacherous doppelgänger, Lord Haw-Haw.
The final destination is a submerged Auschwitz conjured afresh beneath the mighty Thames. There La Squab’s playful romp through literature and topsy-turvy morals reveals that all is not always well in the end!
Illustrated in colour and black-and-white by Kris Guidio.
Includes a reading on CD by Fenella Fielding.
Cover design by John Coulthart.
La Squab
La Squab
Image result for David Britton, Invictus Horror,
David Britton, Invictus Horror,  Savoy Books, 2013.                 

'A new hand-grenade of a novel from David Britton! Letting his romancer's torch shine on Holocaustic goings-on in modern-day Manchester, the Mac Daddy Horror sashays forth as a giant glass rapscallion, puffing out his killing philosophy. In their customary role as the Devil's idle hands, Meng and Ecker spread a freaky-deaky comedic 'Umgawa!!!' over Porchfield Gardens. The Razor Kings' Magic Garden unveils its bounteous nourishing beauty to refugees turned blue from Planet Auschwitz. Oooh'weee. All things are well not.'

In Britton’s books “Lord Horror” is a fantastic character inspired by William Joyce, Lord Haw-Haw, of wartime infamy. The principals of Invictus Horror are Meng and Ecker, twins subjected to “scientific” experiments by Josef Mengele. They’re not nice – Ecker is rational but violent and Meng is a mutant with a huge cock and tits. In this novella, the terrible twins are celebrating Christmas at Lord Horror’s residence in Manchester with some unsavoury violent and anti-Semitic activity.
Would-be readers should be aware that, as in his previous Lord Horror novels, Britton counters the ghastliness of Fascism with a ghastly ironic satire. The irony has sometimes been lost on those offended by Britton’s works, his first Lord Horror novel being the last work of fiction to be banned in Britain.
The novella is illustrated by a riot of colour and monochrome illustrations by Kris Guidio, which evoke the fantastical world of Lord Horror but have no direct connection with the text.
Although published this year, and after David Britton’s illustrated Lord Horror novel ‘La Squab’ of 2012, this short novel is a riff on the ending paragraphs of Britton’s ‘Motherfuckers’ which ends with Christmastime in Porchfield Gardens, Lord H’s Manchester residence where the Twins are holidaying.
“Invictus Horror” was fun in its gruesome way. I liked the illustrations a lot, though they’re not matched to the text (there’s no La Squab in the text, for instance.) Not sure if it really develops the Horror opus any further than the four previous books did, but with the artworks it’s a nice book to have. - http://www.sandg-anime-reviews.net/?p=1455

David Britton & John Coulthart, Lord Horror: Reverbstorm, Savoy Books, 2013.           

Welcome to the nightmare metropolis of Torenbürgen, where New York's Art Deco architecture has fused with the termination machinery of Auschwitz. In this urban inferno Jessie Matthews is singing Sondheim, James Joyce is at work on a new novel and Lord Horror, ex-Nazi propaganda broadcaster and Torenbürgen's model citizen, is stalking the streets in search of fresh victims for his razors. Murderous apes infest the alleyways, Ononoes feast on the living and the dead, while above the rooftops the Soul of the Virgin Mary drifts like a swollen Lovecraftian dirigible, picking at bodies destined for the charnel furnaces. Lord Horror: Reverbstorm is a unique graphic collaboration between writer David Britton, the author of four Lord Horror novels, and artist John Coulthart, whose book of Lovecraft-derived comic strips and illustrations, The Haunter of the Dark, featured a collaboration with Alan Moore. Reverbstorm was originally published in serial form and is now being presented in a single volume for the very first time. Britton's debut novel, Lord Horror (1990), was the last work of fiction to be banned in the UK; an earlier Lord Horror comic series, Hard Core Horror, was also banned by a British court in 1995. Coulthart's death-camp artwork from the final issue in that series appears in Reverbstorm as a prelude to the main narrative. There's never been a comic like this surreal collision between Modernist art and pulp aesthetics, a world where Finnegans Wake is drenched in Alligator Wine and Picasso's 'Guernica' is invaded by Tarzan's simian hordes. Ambitious, transgressive and meticulously rendered, Reverbstorm is one answer to the eternal question posed by those cultural philosophers, The Cramps: 'How far can too far go?'
Image result for David Britton, Lord Horror: Reverbstorm,
Image result for David Britton, Lord Horror: Reverbstorm,
Reverbstorm is an eight-part comic series which I began drawing in 1990. Last week I finished work on the final section, and also completed the layout and design for the collected edition, a 344-page volume which Savoy Books will be publishing later this year. All the artwork has been scanned afresh, re-lettered and, in a few places, improved to fix compromises and print errors present in the published issues. This unfinished project has been hanging over me for so long that I make this announcement with some relief. The book will be published without a foreword so this post can serve as an introduction for the uninitiated. But before I get to the details, some history.–  John Coulthart

As the son of the last British artist to be successfully prosecuted for displaying obscene paintings, I have some empathy with David Britton, the last person successfully prosecuted in Britain for publishing obscene literature. Unlike my father, who accidentally strayed into the purview of the police, Britton’s prosecution in 1992 was almost inevitable. His publisher, Manchester-based Savoy Books, was raided by the police with vindictive regularity between 1976 and 1997.
Ironically, Savoy has often been reviled as much by the left for its lack of political correctness as by the right for attacking the shibboleths of authority. It embodies a longstanding tradition of non-conformist and essentially anarchist thinking in Britain that also underpins Reverbstorm.
This is a graphic novel, written and illustrated by Britton and John Coulthart. Part of the long-running Lord Horror series, it is set in a nightmarish dreamscape where a fantasy 1930s New York is fused with the death camps at Auschwitz. Although presented in a single volume, the book began life in 1994 as an adult comic, published in the tradition of Dickens as a piece-work. It is tempting to say that is where the comparison with 19th-century literature ends. But the mire of Dickens’s world, where stories of callous modernity and human degradation go hand in hand, runs throughout this book.
Yet unlike Dickens there is a question whether there is a story here at all. There is the central motif of the psychopath Lord Horror, a pun on the British wartime traitor Lord Haw-Haw. Horror stalks the streets repeatedly slashing people, mainly Jews, with a cut-throat razor. He still has his radio show, but beyond a Joycean tour around the fantasy city it is difficult to outline a clear narrative thread.

The images of evisceration in the drawings are explicit. In a nod to Hollywood, Horror’s victims often have to endure a bad joke before their deaths, but you only have to think of a James Bond or Dirty Harry film to get the measure of how that cheapens human life.
And perhaps that is the point. Confront people with unmediated murder, mutilation, rape and racism and you force them to react. The police who raided Savoy assumed that reaction would be to celebrate these things, but the opposite is just as likely.
The lack of a clear narrative also resembles modernist literature, and both Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ and Joyce’s Finnegans Wake feature prominently. Britton and Coulthart borrow endlessly from modernist culture, with Seurat’s painting ‘Sunday at La Grande Jatte’ acting as a touchstone. In their drawings they pile images by Beardsley, Picasso and others on top of Seurat, so we end up with drawings that are so complex and layered, they verge on being chaotic.
In this they seem to illustrate somewhat self-consciously the ideas of Walter Benjamin. Indeed, Benjamin is quoted at the start of the novel imagining the ‘Angel of History’ looking at the story of humanity as a single moment in time, each event piling on the top of the next in layers of broken images. Here Seurat stands for some kind of 19th-century order, a ‘more innocent era’ the authors call it, and it is on top of him they heap the wreckage of the 20th century.
We might not agree that Seurat, a political anarchist himself, can be seen as emblematic of innocence and stability. But if you can suspend disbelief at that then the novel gains a navigable structure as a kind of fall narrative, all given life and power through strong and memorable draughtsmanship.
-   https://www.spectator.co.uk/2013/03/murder-rape-and-racism/

A graphic novel rendering of the notorious Lord Horror mythos that shows up most of today’s purveyors of “extreme horror” as the poseurs they are. It continues the tradition of previous Lord Horror media in its nonlinear storytelling and overpowering concentration on ugliness and disgust (although REVERBSTORM is somewhat unique in the Lord Horror lexicon in that it doesn’t contain “Fuck” in its title--unlike FUCK OFF AND DIE, MOTHERFUCKERS and BAPTISED IN THE BLOOD OF MILLIONS: A NOVEL OF FUCKING HOLOCAUST TERROR).
     REVERBSTORM, which originally appeared as an eight issue comic series from 1990-2012, is distinguished from its predecessors by one crucial aspect: the astounding black and white artwork by John Coulthart. Coulthart’s gorgeous dark-hued art was previously featured in the H.P. Lovecraft-inspired graphic anthology THE HAUNTER OF THE DARK, but his work here (as he himself has acknowledged) goes far beyond anything in that volume, or anything else he’s done, in its depictions of up-close eviscerations, otherworldly creatures, outré architecture and bold samplings of Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte” and Picasso’s “Guernica,” details from which are layered into the artwork.
     The setting of REVERBSTORM is the imaginary city Torenbürgen, a hallucinatory playground for Lord Horror and his minions that’s packed with wonton bloodletting and Lovecraftian creatures. Lord Horror, for those unfamiliar with the earlier volumes, is a fascistic politician in an alternate universe where the Nazis have taken over the world. The character is based on William Joyce, a.k.a. “Lord Haw-Haw,” an American-Irish-British fascist notorious for broadcasting Nazi propaganda during WWII. Another real-life personage referenced in these pages is Jessie Matthews, a British singer/actress popular in the 1930s who appears here as Lord Horror’s wife, while James Joyce, whose words are widely quoted (actual pages from FINNEGAN’S WAKE turn up throughout), is Horror’s brother.
     As is his custom, author David Britton seems determined to offend absolutely everybody. If the lovingly depicted dismemberments, eviscerations and sex scenes don’t upset you than the flippant anti-Semitism of Lord Horror and his minions just might, and if that doesn’t phase you than there’s the relentless nonlinearity of the piece, which has no real narrative to speak of, and indeed often feels like a portfolio rather than a proper graphic novel.
     Then there are the literary and artistic references (to the aforementioned James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Aubrey Beardsley, etc), which are so copious an eleven page appendix is included to explain them--and which will doubtless go clear over the heads of 99 percent of REVERBSTORM’S readers. The problem is that a knowledge of those references is necessary to fully understand the proceedings, which are as extreme as just about anything you’ll find, but contain a real fire and intelligence. It’s just a shame that this book’s ideal audience is so limited as to be all-but nonexistent. - http://www.fright.com/edge/LordHorrorReverbstorm.htm

The first publication released by Savoy Books, in 1976, is said to be Stormbringer, a “graphic version” of Michael Moorcock’s early stories of Elric of Melniboné by the artist James Cawthorn. Specifically, the work was published by David Britton, a bookstore proprietor who’d been involved in small press magazine printing and editorial since 1969; one of the first works he’d released was a suppressed comic by Ken Reid, which had been passed along by Steve Moore, the future mentor of an unrelated Alan. Before long, Britton would combine his energy with that of Michael Butterworth — not the Mike Butterworth who wrote Vampirella as “Flaxman Loew” in the ’70s, but a contemporaneous author/editor/publisher — and, through several iterations of the Savoy legend, would release books, records, and comics, the most recent of which arrived in 2013: Lord Horror: Reverbstorm, a 344-page hardcover compilation of work dating back nearly 20 years.
It was scripted by Britton himself, from a scenario by Butterworth, the editor, and drawn by John Coulthart, also the book’s designer. Despite praise from the aforementioned Alan Moore, I don’t recall any of this work, in any format, being distributed to North American comic book stores through traditional comic book distribution channels, nor can I recall much of anything in the way of sustained critical attention from comic book specialist avenues.
But already, in puffing myself up, I have made an error. The first 32 pages of the collected Reverbstorm are taken from a yet-earlier Savoy publication – one of the most curious horror comics of the 1990s.

To understand Lord Horror #7, aka Hard Core Horror #5, aka King Horror: Zero, copyright 1990, it is crucial to know that David Britton had been to jail once, in 1982, and would be jailed again in 1993, both times for selling obscene material; Savoy’s bookshops had been raided by police on a steady basis since ’76, the year Britton began publishing. Most infamously, a 1989 raid seized copies of Britton’s debutante prose novel, Lord Horror, a surreal conflagration of fascistic exaggeration loosely based on the WWII persona of William Joyce — dubbed “Lord Haw-Haw” by the British Press — an Irish-American resident of England turned naturalized German who helmed British-targeted propaganda broadcasts with a sneering, mocking glee which rendered him something of an evil celebrity among the aggrieved. Britton had debuted his “Lord Horror” variant on a 1986 Savoy-published New Order/Bruce Springsteen cover record, the sleeve of which depicted James Anderton, the severely religious chief constable of the area, uttering racial slurs whilst the back of his head exploded.
Anderton was among the figures alluded to in the pages of Lord Horror, which, from the excerpts I have encountered in print and audio form, trafficked in a swirling perceptual mist colored entirely by the hatred of its monstrous, fantastical and not entirely uncomic title character, who at one point, wandering a neon-lit NYC like an immortal champion of anti-Semitism, snatches a fully-grown leather-and-enema sex pervert and gobbles him up like a hungry hippopotamus. The book was found obscene by a local magistrate, and, though the ruling was overturned the following year, at least sparing the impounded stock destruction, it has never been reprinted, save for a 1995 edition released only to the Czech Republic. For those interested in reading further, I recommend David Kerekes’ exhaustive study of Savoy’s travails, which, via accumulation, depicts the applicable obscenity prosecutions as less civic-minded adjudication than a fabulous, generation-spanning local beef with one side empowered to seize both property and liberty from the other.
There were also comic books: Lord Horror, begun the same year as the novel, depicting the further adventures of the title fiend; and Meng & Ecker, a more overtly comedic ‘bad taste’ spin-off which suffered its own obscenity ruling alongside the Lord Horror novel. Both series were written by Britton and drawn by Kris Guidio, until (to repeat myself) the seventh issue of Lord Horror, which concluded a sub-series, Hard Core Horror, which anyway functioned as a standalone unit entitled King Horror: Zero. It is a magazine-sized 8.5″ x 11.75″, well-produced with a glossy cover and good paper, 60 pages in black & white.
It is, in effect, a work of thorough deconstruction.

King Horror begins on its inside front cover with photographic images of Jessie Matthews, an actress familiar to British audiences of the WWII period – famous, in part, for her scandalous romantic life. The images are accompanied by text, fiction, noting her marriage to Horace Joyce, Lord Horror: glamour intertwined with disgust. “He really loves her, and she loves him,” muses James Joyce, fictive brother of the title villain. On the facing (first) page, we then see a photographic blow-up of Matthews’ face, on which is overlaid historical text detailing the tremendous, disgusted renown of the real William Joyce, at the time of his trial on charges of treason, despite not actually being a citizen of England. Two popular images.
Then, horribly, we are seeing photographic images of ovens. Overlaid are texts relating to the creation of the “Lord Haw-Haw” name by journalist Jonah Barrington, a title eventually embraced by the in-character propaganda broadcasts of Joyce himself, so that fictive reality came to embrace a deeper fiction; all the better to tease the paranoia of reality, since part of the impact of such broadcasts was that they were meant to be taken as emanating from within Britain. Next, we read an excerpt from a 1941 novel by Brett Rutledge, depicting the heroic killing of Lord Haw-Haw – fiction again rising to fiction. The shock of reality subsequently arrives, as the photo-backgrounds depict heaps of starved corpses while the text details testimony as to the oratorical prowess of Joyce, the man behind the character; interspersed is sarcastic commentary by Barrington, who himself sought to fight back this menace with ridicule. This is a war of bodies and minds, each represented by image and text, the fundamentals of comics, but at different times. The prelude ends.
John Coulthart’s ink-on-paper contributions to King Horror can be messily identified as architectural or industrial drawing. For 32 pages, we are shown full-page or double-page renditions of settings, very occasionally with the absurd, tall-haired silhouette of Lord Horror lurking about. It is evident, quickly, that this is a concentration camp: “Arbeit Macht Frei.” Savoy begs comparison with the etchings of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, while generous comic tragics may cite to Martin Vaughn-James’ eerier, wordier 1974 graphic novel The Cage, but the most obvious comparison issues from a comics artist famously reliant on background support: Dave Sim, of 2008’s Judenhass.
The departure of aesthetics between these two early images is self-evident. Sim, by his ready admission, is working from specific, cited photo-reference. The image is cold and mechanical, by design. It seeks to groan with the burden of witness, and the fact of its deliberation will become the heart of the Judenhass project.
Taking a small handful of photographs and copying, detailing, excerpting and collaging, Sim creates a distinctly literal type of poetics. Tiny panels of damning bodies underlie quotes taken from brightly-illustrated famous faces, positioned for maximum anti-Semitic horror impact – these are the consequences of such words. That Judenhass was questioned as to the causative value or basic applicability of these words is natural, since every page of it is pedagogical, instructive.
Coulthart’s images, meanwhile, are disquieting in their vivid imagination. These are *not* drawn from photographs (which the comic has already demonstrated are easy enough to print on their own); in their looming black spires and smooth vintage contours, they look fit for a genocidal episode of a superhero cartoon from the Bruce Timm era. See an ashen skull grin in the skies above these gates! Eerie tendrils writhing down a dread, yawning hall! In these moments, one can imagine the dismay of Manchester’s moral guardians, grudges aside, because Coulthart, also an illustrator of Lovecraft, is making these images awesome, in the sense of inspiring awe, which can easily read as tribute. I feel it is more about emphasizing the unique qualities of drawing versus the mechanical capture of photography; both can be visceral, sensual, hallucinogenic, but drawn images in sequence can better absorb, because in lacking the blunt sensory recognition of ‘reality’ they can be accepted instantly as allegorically ‘real’ – as places.
But note too the blank spaces of white occupying each page. These are empty captions; they are the indication of explanation, or at least accompaniment, or counterpoint, or something, but without any substance. This is not the same as merely presenting images – here, images are explicitly split off from text. And, when read in conjunction with what has come before, and what will come after, the suggestion is made that images can be both concrete and subjective. As I mentioned before, this segment of King Horror (printed darker, with some extra strokes of shading added, and one image inverted) would eventually become a prelude to the collected Reverbstorm, which indeed planted its cast of characters into an Auschwitz by way of Gotham City, dislocating [h]orror from a specific time and location and declaring it everywhere – like threat made stone. And if it all threatens to look like an album sleeve, well: isn’t this a comic anyway about image and excitation?
Again, the poles reverse. Coulthart withdraws and Britton enters for five pages of white text on black paper. It’s a rambling, dense screed, depicting Lord Horror’s inquisition of himself regarding the suicide of his wife, Jessie Matthews, and, among other things, the suspicion that the microbes clamoring on his hand are Jews – all this despite him being costumed as a rat, the bringer of plague. Aloud, Horror wonders if genocide isn’t a biological imperative. “All things are to be counted good that are done according to nature,” says Cicero, below the issue’s title. Yet suicide is to yield “to the mind’s jungle.” Is it, then, good? The annihilation of the ‘beautiful’ image, Matthews, before the horrific?
I cannot promise you will not be somehow left wanting by these provocations. This is a comic, after all, which concludes with 15 pages of sequential images of photographs of corpses, as both a reprisal of its prelude and a final lunge into questioning images. Here, we react: we recognize these as bodies, instantly, though we are never told that they are victims of the Holocaust. They are overlaid, instead by two additional elements. There are brief factoids, detailing more of the life and influence of Lord Haw-Haw, supporter of all this. And there are also measurements: musical scales and the like, drawn over the bodies. This is the futility of art, perhaps, to account of these physical and psychological horrors. Or maybe it is a leap toward accounting for everything – the final page sees a nude, dead man with a star chart drawn over him, reminding us that we are all carbon-based entities, just matter, and threatening that pain and horror and suffering and hatred and death are endemic to our condition, and that it will continue well past humanity and its affairs, upward and into infinity. -  Joe McCulloch


Writer and co-founder of Savoy Books, David Britton is a controversial figure. His novel Lord Horror was the last book to be banned under the UK’s Obscene Publications Act 1959 and Britton himself served a prison sentence.
None of which appears to have deterred Britton from producing work that will inevitably offend and outrage many readers, dealing with potentially contentious subject matter in a manner that, while overtly satirical and blackly comedic, flings our own bigotry and fascination with the mechanisms of atrocity back in our faces.
Nor should it deter him.
Subtitled “The Black Rose of Auschwitz”, LA SQUAB (Savoy Books hc, 334pp, £25) is a novel that introduces itself as “A Nuggerty Treasure Book for Children of All Ages”, though I suspect the only minor who might make head or tail of it is the eponymous heroine of the narrative, a switchblade wielding nymphet with a wardrobe courtesy of Agent Provocateur and a penchant for discussing philosophy. According to the promotional material accompanying the book, “the primary inspirations of La Squab are The Wind in the Willows – if Grahame’s classic had been re-written by Adolf Hitler – and the ‘Fudge & Speck’ comic strip created by celebrated Beano cartoonist Ken Reid”. I’ve read the former, but have no recollection of encountering the latter, and in any event it was all such a long time ago and I have no faith in my ability to pick up on any resonances.
The stem narrative involves a boat journey, made by La Squab in the company of Lord Horror who she refers to as Uncle Horace, along the River Thames, though this fictional waterway meanders somewhat more than its geographical counterpart, taking us to places both real and imaginary. Along the way the two philosophise and swap banter, have adventures and meet a wealth of interesting people, both fictional and historical (e.g. Tiger Tim and Weary Willie, Alfred Jarry and Sigmund Freud), and inevitably they also bump into characters from Britton’s back catalogue such as Meng and Ecker, creations inspired by Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. It’s all mildly pleasurable, with some delicious descriptions of the Thames Valley, witty dialogue and endless invention, the kind of book where you never really know what to expect from one page to the next, and this is a good thing. The best comparison I can think of are the Jerry Cornelius novels of Michael Moorcock, but with the decadence cranked up to eleven. And yet at the same time it’s also vaguely dissatisfying, with the feel that there really isn’t much point to it all and that ultimately the author is simply freewheeling, with no real end in mind, other than being whimsical in his own special way. That, of course, is a valid position for a writer to take, and if it’s what you’re looking for from a novel then possibly La Squab is the book for you.
But Britton’s text isn’t the entire story. Considered as an artefact in its own right, La Squab the book is a thing of beauty, a lavish volume produced to a high standard, with a CD of Fenella Fielding reading from the text, and sumptuous illustrations by artist Kris Guido on just about every other page, so that what we have is a treat for the eye. As a novel it didn’t quite work for me, but as an art book with added words then I’d have to rate it the best thing to come down the pike for years, a work that puts most so called collectibles to shame. And yes, I am a very superficial and shallow person, thank you for asking.
And I could pretty much copy and paste some of the comments above for the epic production that is the graphic novel LORD HORROR: REVERBSTORM (Savoy Books hc, 344pp, £25). Reverbstorm was originally published in serial form, and now the seven issues are collected together in a single volume for the first time with a wealth of supplementary material. Written by David Britton and illustrated by John Coulthart, the book is a treasure trove of cultural references – the literature of Joyce and Eliot, the art of Seurat and Picasso, the music of Sondheim and Leiber & Stoller – all caught between the same covers and polished to a fine gloss intermixed with images of death and destruction, the visual language of splatterpunk chic.
To quote from the promotional material: “Welcome to the nightmare metropolis of Torenbürgen, where New York’s Art Deco architecture has fused with the termination machinery of Auschwitz”. Imagine if you can, the cities of Science Fiction’s golden age, the futuristic architecture of Gibson’s story ‘The Gernsback Continuum’, as illustrated by Giger, and then handed over to Tom Savini to chuck a bucket or two of blood and intestines over it all. This work is a tour de force of invention, Britton’s narrative the glue that ostensibly holds it together, but with Coulthart throwing just about every stylistic trick in his considerable artistic repertoire at the page in an effort to dazzle and appal the reader, as what we are seeing veers between subtle eroticism and garish atrocity show, with the line dividing beauty and the grotesque at first blurred and then eliminated altogether, so that we question both the reality and mores of what we are seeing, while interrogating our own response to the work – why does such horrific imagery appeal, what is it in our own natures that it speaks to.
Or maybe not.
It’s also an immensely clever book, using artwork and lyrics to represent the characters in much the same way that people in musical dramas have key note refrains, and as a supplementary to that there are explanations in the back of the book, a glossary of cultural references and influences that is as fascinating as it is substantial. As an example, one technique used in the book and categorised in the glossary, is that of A Humument or “treated novel” in which parts of the text are drawn over leaving only selected words visible, thus creating a new work. In all honesty, I didn’t understand what I was looking at for much of the time, though I guess I could waffle on a bit and lay on the bullshit thick, but that would be to do the creators’ work a disservice, impose a meaning on it that I don’t really believe in myself. In the final analysis, I’m not sure that it all adds up to anything greater than the sum of its parts – for that you should probably ask a philosophy professor with a side line in semiotics, rather than a humble book reviewer – but those parts are quite, quite magnificent. Regardless of things like meaning and authorial intent, I loved Lord Horror: Reverbstorm, every single page of gut wrenching imagery, and expect to spend a lot of time in the future just browsing through the book’s pages and stumbling across yet more to delight and repel. - https://trumpetville.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/filler-content-with-lord-horror/

Horror Panegyric

Keith Seward, David Britton, Michael Butterworth, Horror Panegyric, Savoy Books, 2008.

"David Britton and Michael Butterworth are the founders of Savoy Books. To call Savoy a publishing house is rather like calling Charles Manson a criminal — it’s correct but it fails to account for so much more. A frequent contributor to New Worlds magazine, Butterworth established himself at a young age as an important figure in the “New Wave” of science fiction that also included J.G. Ballard, Michael Moorcock, and others. Britton became notorious for his first novel, Lord Horror, which earned him a distinction that even Burroughs failed to acquire: it became the first literary work banned in Britain since Hubert Selby’s Last Exit to Brooklyn and thus landed Britton in jail. While Burroughs had been in jail a number of times, it was never because of his writing.
In 1979 Savoy Books was prepared to publish a uniform edition of works by Burroughs when it was subject to a series of police raids that temporarily forced it into bankruptcy. The project was scuttled, but Britton and Butterworth never lost their tremendous admiration for Burroughs. A few days after his death in 1997, the two gave an interview to Sarajane Inkster describing their visit to the Bunker, Burroughs’ abode on New York’s down-and-out Bowery. Now they expand on that interview to commemorate the 2008 publication of Horror Panegyric. A collaboration between Savoy Books and Supervert, creator of RealityStudio, Horror Panegyric features an enthusiastic analysis of the Lord Horror novels, excerpts from the hard-to-find books themselves, and a timeline of Lord Horror productions including books, comics, and CDs. Text is also available in its entirety at supervert.com." - realitystudio.org

Table of Contents:
"The Frogmen" (from Lord Horror, 1989)
"The Auschwitz of Oz" (from Motherfuckers, 1996)
"The Afreet of Dachau" (from Motherfuckers, 1996)
"Our Lord of Fuck-Off Confronts Angels" (from Baptised in the Blood of Millions, 2000)

"Horror Panegyric begins with a penetrating essay by Keith Seward on the three Lord Horror novels produced by David Britton and Michael Butterworth, aka Savoy Books of Manchester, England. The first novel, Lord Horror, was the most recent work of literature after Last Exit to Brooklyn to be banned in England and obliged Britton to serve a term in Strangeways Prison. Savoy's "franchise of Lord Horror productions," Seward writes, "is provocative, original, visionary, and contains at least one outright masterpiece (Motherf*ckers). 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." "Lord Horror," Britton has said, "was so unique and radical, I expected to go to prison for it. I always thought that if you wrote a truly dangerous book - something dangerous would happen to you. Which is one reason there are so few really dangerous books around. Publishers play at promoting dangerous books, whether they're Serpent's Tail or Penguin. All you get is a book vetted by committee, never anything radically imaginative or offensive that will take your f*cking head off. Ironically, I think it would do other authors a power of good if they had to account for their books by going to prison - there are far too many bad books being published!" Following the essay are excerpts from the three difficult-to-find novels Lord Horror, Motherf*ckers: The Auschwitz of Oz, and Baptised in the Blood of Millions. Rounding out the volume is a timeline of Lord Horror productions that includes the novels, comic books, and recordings for which Savoy Books has earned its worldwide notoriety."

The Most Disturbing Alternate History You'll Ever Read
If Philip K. Dick's "Axis won the war" novel Man in the High Castle made you squirm, then the 1980s novels about Lord Horror and his Nazi England will make your brain explode. The Lord Horror novels — Lord Horror, followed by Motherfuckers: The Auschwitz of Oz — are vicious, psychedelic satire about a Nazi DJ (Lord Horror) in England after Germany wins World War II. Written by underground publishers David Britton and Michael Butterworth, owners of the notorious Savoy Books, the first novel was declared obscene in court and got Britton sent to jail for four months. Now, cult author and critic Keith Seward (who wrote Extraterrestrial Sex Fetish under the name Supervert) has helped revive the long-suppressed scifi classics in a collection called Horror Panegyric. It brings together Seward's essay about the Lord Horror books with excerpts from the novels. And you can read it online for free.
Writes Seward in his introduction to the book:
Unlike Dick or Spinrad, sci-fi writers who confined Nazis to a book or two, Britton and Butterworth have pursued their theme with a probably disturbing intensity that can be quantitatively measured in the sheer volume of Lord Horror productions. What's more, they do not tack a moral to the end of their tales. This is not to say that there are no morals but rather that there are no easy answers, seals of approval, rubber stamps, calmatives ("don't worry, it's just fiction, the jackboots won't hurt you"). Their work is not ideological, like a hate tract, but is rather a deliberate collision of seemingly incompatible ideologies: death camp + dream factory = ? Satire, hyperbole, and reductio ad absurdum work to energize, anger, inspire, offend, but the one thing they do not do to readers is pacify. And why should anyone be pacified by Nazis, even fictional ones?Seward's essay alone makes great, thoughtful lunchtime reading, especially if you like your scifi on the transgressive side. And once you've read what he has to say about Lord Horror, you'll definitely want to check out the excerpts themselves." - Annalee Newitz

"A masterpiece is like pornography: it is difficult to say what it is exactly and yet, as the Supreme Court judge once said of porn, I know it when I see it. I know that a masterpiece, like porn, excites me when I see it. I know that, like porn, it reveals something to me. I know that, like porn, it tends to avoid sentiment, which is another way of saying that it has deep connections to truth. I know that, like porn, a masterpiece can often be shocking or scandalous. I know that I not only know porn when I see it, I know the difference between good porn and bad — and a masterpiece is always like good porn. And above all I know that, just as porn makes me want to fuck, a masterpiece makes me want to create. It's a stimulant, an incitement that does to the aesthetic sense what porn does to the libido.
Rimbaud excites. Dostoievski reveals. Burroughs inspires. And Lord Horror?" - Keith Seward
Continue reading:

The unusual title -- "Motherfuckers: The Auschwitz of Oz" -- tells you it's an extraordinary novel. But it still doesn't prepare you for the story (or the swastika on the cover). Which is why "Horror Panegyric," published today by Savoy Books, works so handily. As Keith Seward explains in his introductory essay:
Motherfuckers' principals are Meng and Ecker, twins who had been subject to "scientific" experiments by Josef Mengele. After the war they find themselves in northern England, waiting for Lord Horror the way others wait for Godot. Ecker is rational but violent, Meng is a mutant whose huge cock and tits are nothing compared to the mutations of his mind. Not Holocaust survivors in any sense you've ever seen before, Meng and Ecker have adopted the ways of their captors -- the bloodlusts and hates. However, there is nothing paramilitary about them. They're not neo-Nazis or skinheads. They're more like the ultraviolent droogs of A Clockwork Orange,, though it is quite possible that the droogs would not feel any affinity in return. Meng and Ecker are even further out in some post-war delirium. Auschwitz, meet Oz.
Motherfuckers is the third in a series of novels by the British writing and publishing team David Britton and Michael Butterworth. The other two are "Lord Horror" (now out of print) and "Baptised in the Blood of Millions." They succeed as "satire via hyperbole and excess," Seward writes, by applying to literature what he calls "the Boschian method":
• "time no longer flows in a straight line"
• "history loses its coordinate points and therefore its constancy
• "cause and effect are sundered"
• "space loses its divisions"
• "motion loses its efficacy"
• "gravity loses its inescapability"
• "life loses its phyla"
• "characters mutate"
• "behaviours lose their norms. Or rather, norms are represented not as injunctions but as worst-case scenarios"
• "art loses its conventions"
"Sure, there are writers who 'push the envelope,'" Seward adds. "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." The police in Manchester, England (where Britton and Butterworth are based), didn't appreciate the idea of "satire via hyperbole and excess." Not long after "Lord Horror" was published, in 1989, the pair paid for their provocations in jail time and other forms of harrassment. Half the print run was confiscated, and a judge declared the book obscene, "less for its sex or violence than for anti-semitic ravings put into the mouths of anti-semitic characters," Seward notes. (The fact that the title character of "Lord Horror" is based on the World War II British fascist William Joyce, popularly known as Lord Haw-Haw, apparently failed to strike the judge as relevant.) Britton went to prison for four months. Instead of discouraging him, the sentence hardened his resolve. It was in prison that he conceived the story of "Motherfuckers." Here's a taste of it, taken from "Horror Panegyric," which offers excerpts of all three novels:
Fifty years on, Horror had confided to Ecker, Auschwitz would be a recognisable brand name, a mythic character as well-known as Sherlock Holmes or Tarzan. A fortune awaited the author who could bring 'Mr Auschwitz' to life. To recreate the persona of Auschwitz would be an ordained mission. Auschwitz, the holy end-all of life's futile pattern, slinking through the subconscious of humanity, the one archetypal riff common to all nightmares, fuelled on the anvil of Little Richard. In a hundred years, Auschwitz would form its own genre and become the most successfully marketed product in the history of the world, a name as well-known globally as Coca Cola, taking all media under its encompassing umbrella. The camps were the obvious ultimate enclosed world, the desired image of world television, beamed by satellite into each city, town and village, ideal for community soap operas (a story of everyday life on the edge of life), of science fiction time travel (travel back through your life and end it in Auschwitz). In this televised scenario thhe dog-boys loomed large as Heathcliff doomed lovers, the spice of sexy bodice-rippers which thrilled millions of women. Guilt would never stand in the way of commerce ...
Seward calls Motherfuckers a masterpiece and compares it to the works of the Marquis de Sade and William S. Burroughs. After reading it myself, I'm inclined to agree. But he prefers not to emphasize "the rectitude of these books" for their moral instruction. "You can read them like the Gospel, if you want, and draw out the lessons," he writes. "But that's not really the point. These are not moral books. They're good books." To read Seward's entire essay, go here. - Jan Herman

Keith Seward, aka Supervert, is a writer based in New York. He also runs Reality Studio, a website and forum devoted to Burroughs. Reality Studio has had a big impact on ballardian.com in that it’s a template for how to present an intelligent and provocative site about a major cultural figure without descending into the worst excesses of fandom. There is much discussion of Ballard over at Reality Studio’s forum, and some crossover the other way: Supervert submitted an entry to our Ballardian Home Movies competition and occasionally pops up in this site’s comments box, as do other RS regulars. At some stage I hope to conduct an interview with Seward, in which the Ballard/Burroughs nexus will be analysed along with Keith’s various writing projects (but as always with this site finding the time is the factor, although I hope the interview will not be too far away).
I have Supervert’s two books, Necrophiliac Variations and Extraterrestrial Sex Fetish, and I find them to be hilariously challenging examinations of the nature of sexuality. Careening through outright farce to science fiction and beyond, these self-published, thoroughly subversive gems have been around for a few years, appreciated by the likes of Mark Dery and i09′s Annalee Newitz.
Dery even managed to draw Ballard into the frame:
Things are getting weird out there, so much so that imaginary obsessions such as exophilia, the “abnormal attraction [to] beings from worlds beyond earth” that is the subject of the underground novel Extraterrestrial Sex Fetish, are starting to sound downright plausible. Can we be far from the future foretold by J.G. Ballard, where car-crash enthusiasts get off on vehicular manslaughter and fans of Space Age snuff thrill to footage of astronauts being roasted alive during re-entry? In the introduction to his 1974 novel Crash, Ballard wondered if the android numbness induced by media bombardment—the “demise of feeling”—would open the door to “all our most real and tender pleasures—in the excitements of pain and mutilation; in sex as the perfect arena…for…our…perversions; in our moral freedom to pursue our own psychopathology as a game.”
Now Keith has a new book out, a limited-edition hardcover called Horror Panegyric. Published by Savoy Books, this is Seward’s apppraisal of Savoy’s notorious Lord Horror novels by David Britton and Michael Butterworth. The novels tell the story of Lord Horror, who, Seward writes, “is based on a historical personage: Lord Haw-Haw, aka William Joyce, British fascist and radio announcer”. The books are alternative histories of a fascist England, brutal, bloody, highly confrontational and shot through with a violent Surrealism.
According to Seward:
Lord Horror takes the repository of symbols bequeathed by World War II and pours it into a cauldron boiling over with pop culture. Bigots and death camps get cooked up with rock and roll, comic strips, esoterica. It’s a “what if the other side had won the war” trip like you’ve never seen before.

Constant harassment — which continued into the late 1990s — from an obsessed constabulary would have quashed most publishers, but Britton and Butterworth operated under a maxim more along the Nietzschean lines of “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” Far from folding up shop or retreating into less controversial publications, the two launched an all-out assault. Though the novel Lord Horror was effectively suppressed and remains difficult to find even today, the character Lord Horror multiplied, made appearances in different media, spawned other characters who in turn featured in their own books, comics, music. In short, the death of the book was the birth of a twisted empire, a reich of deviant imagination that neither Allied nor Axis powers would ever have recognized.

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.
The Lord Horror books are now difficult to find, but following Seward’s essay in Horror Panegyric are excerpts from the works that are guaranteed to stoke the fire. Perhaps you might even find yourself sharing Colin Wilson’s reaction:
I think that, as an exercise in Surrealism, Lord Horror compares with some of the best work that came out of France and Germany between the wars, for example Georges Bataille… Britton is undoubtedly brilliant, but when I came to the bit about Horror hollowing out a Jewess’s foot and putting it over his penis, I started skipping. With the best will in the world, I couldn’t give his brilliant passages the attention they deserve because I kept being put off by this note of violence and sadism. No doubt it is because I belong to an older generation that is still basically a bit Victorian.
Horror Panegyric is available online at supervert.com or can be purchased in hardcover. The latter is worth it for the great cover art and design by John Coulthart. - 

Latest in Savoy's ongoing series of books about Savoy is this Lord Horror sampler and essay, a handsomely bound hardback boasting an Arcimboldo-inspired John Coulthart cover painting of the great man himself. As for the contents, you get four extracts from the Lord Horror books plus Seward's appreciation and a Horror timeline for under a tenner, which brings this as close as Savoy have got to populist publishing since AC/DC and Kiss.
Lord Horror certainly deserves critical appraisal but Seward's tone is altogether too casual for the job and his arguments unlikely to convince any but the converted - or even many of the converted. Much of the essay is written in the first person - 'It's a good name, and I thought Motherfuckers was good too' - and consists mainly of Seward attempting to categorise the Lord Horror books, a daunting and probably pointless task: surely the work's category implosion is itself half the fun? Reiterations of similarities between Horror and works in the accepted canon of Great Art (Burroughs, Swift, Bosch) are swiftly wearying - can't Horror stand on his own daintily shod feet? - and the pretzels Seward contorts himself into while trying to place the morality of the books surely miss the point: if Horror's 'about' anything it's the transformative power of an imagination weaned on Fudge & Speck, rock'n'roll, fascist iconography and unwarranted incarceration.
Seward's final call to arms, for a US publisher to publish the Horror books as a 'nicely designed line of paperbacks' for broader consumption, is baffling - this is never going to be mainstream fare. I imagine sixties readers would have had similar problems believing that a handful of Burroughs titles would be stocked by every branch of Borders today, but Burroughs never baited his readers as relentlessly as Britton and Butterworth: their most extreme imagery may be tempered and finally redeemed by an imagination prodigious enough to join the dots between Auschwitz and Oz, but this is still dangerous stuff. Calls to add Lord Horror to the academic canon seem similarly misplaced: academic appraisal is sure to draw the sting from even the most brutal work, while Savoyards have long celebrated the obscure, unsung and hopelessly irredeemable - what better place for their own work than shoulder to shoulder with the likes of David Lindsay and Robert Aickman?

Seward does make the astute point that Savoy is 'in a weird place, like one of those soldiers lost in a forest and still fighting the war after it's over'. As fantastic fiction Lord Horror continues to impress; as censor-baiting statement in an age of beheadings and bukake piped directly into British homes, perhaps its relevance has lessened. And it's hard to fault the enthusiasm of the essay, which if nothing else is likely to prompt a re-examination of the Horror canon. Happily the extracts published here show Horror at his strongest: like a lacklustre support band, Seward's appreciation only serves to make Britton and Butterworth's work shine ever brighter.- James Marriott
Image result for David Britton, Fuck Off and Die,
David Britton and Kris Guidio, Fuck Off and Die, Savoy Books, 2005.

Fuck Off and Die is the follow-up to the notorious Adventures of Meng & Ecker. Featuring all the usual favourites—Meng & Ecker, Lord Horror, La Squab—as well as new characters, it is probably David Britton and Kris Guidio's farewell volume of comic strips. All-new strips in b/w and 48 pages of full colour, containing the complete run of the La Squab three-panel strips, FOAD stacks-up more fucking bad taste than a monkey can shake a pointed stick at; the un-politically correct Daddy of comic books.
With an introduction by Alan Moore and an afterword by Dr Benjamin Noyse.
Jacket design by John Coulthart.

"Consider the lilies of the field—and let the cluster-bombing begin. Fuck Off and Die, the latest literary JDAM from David Britton and illustrator Kris Guidio, targets pretense, hypocrisy, and the icons of so-called culture, whether highbrow or popular. Passionate, provocative, harrowing, hilarious: this collection of comic strips and graphic stories puts pay to a brave new century where governments prohibit photographs of dead soldiers and hurricane victims lest emotion—and possibly even thought—may follow. Its centerpiece is a series of three-panel strips featuring La Squab, offspring of vivisectionist vaudevillians Meng & Ecker (stars of the only comic book to be banned in England). Slam Little Orphan Annie into an anime nymphet, dress her in a death's head and butt-climbing miniskirt, slip her a handgun, and you'll get an idea. La Squab wanders the wasteland of the New Jerusalem, exacting her own brand of moral vengeance through bitter bon mots—"I don't like the thought of dying...on the other hand, I do like the thought of not being here"—and, courtesy of a quick trigger finger, the occasional bon voyage.       
La Squab's mischief frames epistles from Meng & Ecker, including 48 pages of full-color delirium wending from urban legend and the Hungerford murders into Schopenhauer with the full-immersion baptism in hate, violence, fascism, and duplicity that have marked Britton as a brave, unapologetic, and unblinking satirist—arguably the best of our generation—and, in England at least, as a pornographer and criminal. Guidio's artwork is wrenchingly beautiful, repulsive, nightmarish, profound. Buying this book is an act of conscience—and of revolution against those who fear words and images." - DOUGLAS WINTER

"Oh, Christ. Britton and Guidio. Now look what you've made them do, and at the worst possible moment.
La Squab herself, apparently, was fathered on the bestial and psychopathic Meng by former Manc stud Morrissey somewhere between the squalor-sequined pages in jailbird of Paradise Dave Britton's and sinister legend Guidio's Meng & Ecker comic, though the issue of her actually parentage and pedigree runs somewhat deeper.
La Squab is a gothed-over, morbidly embellished version of the innocent, delightful Angel Face, originated by authentic British cartoon genius Ken Reid.
A terraced street visionary whose creations were the squelchy, squeaking furniture of many 1950s juvenile imaginations, Ken Reid and his various homunculi have always fitted seamlessly into the bilious, fluorescent Savoy swirl of cultural reference that sluices the toxic minor-cosmos of La Squab, Lord Horror, Meng and Ecker; an apocalyptic universe where ghastly English landmarks such as Oswald Moseley are set on spectacular collision courses with icons like James Joyce, Arthur Askey, Tiger Tim or Jessie Matthews.
An incongruous soup of moral outrage and nostalgia, this splenetic oeuvre offers us a key to the scarred, scalded sensibilities behind La Squab, behind the whole Savoy agenda. In these comic strips, as in our lives, the reassuring and beloved playmates of our past are herded onto cattle-trains and dragged into the semen, shit and blood stained razor-wire enclosure of our present.
This is a black and excellent collection, sharp as gall, a fine display of Britton's acid voice and splendid gallery of Guidio's elegant and decadent designs. La Squab is a sophisticated howl of anger and disgust disguised as a Violet Elizabeth Bott tantrum, Minipops conceived by Bertolt Brecht with set designs by Harry Clarke and camera work by Leni Riefenstahl. A paedophobic gymslip gem, it should be on the shelves of anyone hoping to fathom the lurid, fractal mess of turn-of-the-century British culture, a must for those of us who cannot stomach Cute unless it's gnawed down to the painful cuticle. Go out and order six more copies of this book immediately.
Tomorrow belongs to her." - ALAN MOORE IN THE INTRODUCTION

David Britton, Lord Horror, Savoy Books, 1989.

"Lord Horror is to fascism what Hannibal Lecter is to serial killers."
The disinterring of PJ Proby from 1984 onwards did not produce the character we wanted who was capable of connecting the various emergent tentacles of Savoy: art/literature, trash comics, records. That role fell to Lord Horror, ubiquitous in space and time, whose debut was as vocalist on Savoy's version of New Order's Blue Monday. He later appeared in his own comic and as lead vocalist on two other Savoy covers, Iggy Pop's Raw Power and The Cramps's Garbageman. Lord Horror passed muster, proving to be the most contentious in Savoy's pantheon of stars. The greatest indicator that he was the right character for our time was the level of reaction he provoked from the authorities, which led to David Britton's second term of imprisonment in 1993. The novel—the first horror genre 'Auschwitz' book—was begun in 1985. Edited by Michael Butterworth (who also contributed to the text), it became the epicentre of the Lord Horror mythos. It was first circulated in 1989 in manuscript form under the pseudonym Robert France, and turned down by every major British publisher. Lord Horror was seized by police in 1989 almost immediately after review copies were sent out. It was found obscene by a Manchester magistrate in August 1991 and became the first novel since Last Exit to Brooklyn (prosecuted in 1968) to be banned in an English court. Stipendiary Magistrate Derrick Fairclough ordered the remaining print run to be destroyed. The ban was lifted at the Appeal Courts in July 1992 after international freedom group Article 19 brought the case to the attention of Geoffrey Robertson QC, who fought the case for Savoy."

"Although we are familiar with films and novels as sites of 'fascinating fascism' (Sontag) there has been comparatively little attention paid to comics or the graphic novel. David Britton's Lord Horror forces us to confront this absence. These graphic novels offer an historical fantasy based on the life of the pre-war fascist and wartime traitor William Joyce, better known as Lord Haw Haw. This disturbing representation of fascism is an explicit challenge to the anti-fascist consensus in post-war British culture. Lord Horror operates as an act of 'counter-memory' in recovering a repressed British fascism. It also represents fascism as a carnivalesque transgression. In doing so it uses the hybrid form of the comic book (that mixes text and images) to explore the penetration of fascism into both high and low culture. This representation inverts our sense of fascism as a limited historical phenomenon and also raises questions concerning the politics of history itself. Through an engagement with the work of Walter Benjamin these highly unusual graphic novels scramble the codes on which historical representation rests. This scrambling raises the question of 'fascinating fascism' with an extreme urgency and, at the same time, suggests that it cannot be resolved." - Benjamin Noys

Lord Horror makes most horror fiction look tame and safe. Awesomely grotesque, unstoppably imaginative, hideously funny, it’s a truly dangerous book.” RAMSEY CAMPBELL

Alright, show of hands: who here has heard of David Britton, or his incredible Lord Horror works?
Anyone? Anybody? Ok, I think I can see a few tentative hands raised in the back.
Ok, have any of you read one of his books?
No one?
I can hear crickets chirping.
I’m really not surprised. Some of our British readers might be more familiar with David Britton and his notorious publishing house- Savoy Books- due to the controversy he was raising from the 70’s through the 90’s. Britton has actually served jail time for his writing and the books he’s published. Twice.
But American readers tend not to have heard of the masterpieces that Savoy has released over the years. This might have something to do with the fact that you generally have to sacrifice your first-born to get your hands on a copy of ‘Lord Horror’, though Britton’s second novel, ‘Motherfuckers: The Aushwitz of Oz’ usually comes in for an only slightly eye-watering $75 or so. Anyway, the point is- they cost more than people want to pay to take a chance on ‘some dense British novel’.
So, they’ve gone largely unnoticed. And that’s a fucking crime.
David Britton’s works- his three novels, ‘Lord Horror’, ‘Motherfuckers: The Aushwitz of Oz’ and ‘Baptized in the Blood of Millions’, the various ‘Meng & Ecker’ comics (one of which is still banned in England, due to a panel showing a transexual serial murder/rapist ejaculating on Garfield the cat), the ‘Hardcore Horror’ and ‘Reverbstorm’ graphic novels (the latter illustrated by the brilliant John Coulthart), and the bizarre collection of tie-in music singles mean more to me that I can possibly put into words. Perhaps if I was to bang on my keyboard while hooting like a howler monkey for twenty minutes I would be able to get across a bit of the fanatical love I have for these books.
I could write a LOT about these books… but I’m not going to. It’s already been done- better than I could do it- and I see no reason to rewrite perfection. Keith Seward/Supervert (a brilliant writer himself- some Bizarro fans might be entertained by his book Extraterrestrial Sex Fetish) wrote an essay analyzing David Britton’s writing, called ‘Horror Panegyric’. It was released in a beautiful little limited edition hardcover by Savoy, but you can read the entire thing here. Also, you can read excerpts from each of the three hard-to-find novels. He’s said everything there is to say about these books best, so I don’t feel I need to try and reiterate everything he’s said. In real life, some people like to dress up and make up artists at a high-skill level will sometimes use airbrushing with Luminess Air.
I really hope you’ll read that essay.
It could lead you to books that could change your life- because these books seriously are life-changing. They’re some of the strangest things you’ll ever come across, coupled with brilliant writing, a sense of transgression worthy of jail-time, and horror in extremes that even the most intense of the hardcore horror authors could take notes from.
They’re just… brilliant.
And required reading for fans of the weird. - Troy Chambers  https://bizarrocentral.com/2011/06/14/ode-to-the-woefully-unknown-lord-horror/

A novel that appears destined to be best known for being banned in its native England and getting its author/publisher jailed. That ban, FYI, has since been overturned, yet LORD HORROR was never reprinted after its initial print run (a large portion of which was confiscated by British police), making this one of the rarest and most sought-after horror novels of all time, and the most famous entry in Savoy Books’ multi-media Lord Horror saga.
     Certainly LORD HORROR is quite incendiary, as its reputation and subject matter portend, with a definite transgressive brilliance. Yet it’s also, ionically enough, the least outrageous of the Lord Horror novels--which came to include MOTHERFUCKERS, BAPTISED IN THE BLOOD OF MILLIONS, LA SQUAB and INVICTUS HORROR, all of which far outdid the excesses of this one yet didn’t undergo any censorship issues.
     Lord Horror is a character inspired by William Joyce, a.k.a. Lord Haw-Haw, a British politician who was executed for broadcasting Nazi propaganda during WWII. Lord Horror is himself a Nazi-affiliated broadcaster, residing in an alternate universe England in which Germany won WWII. As in most “if-the-Nazis-won-the-war” scenarios the book’s opening third is taken up with much expository info about how this alternate history came about, interspaced with introductions to the various odd personages who make up the LORD HORROR universe.
     Those characters include Lord Horror himself, who spends his days indiscriminately killing and/or experimenting on Jewish people while dreaming of resurrecting the apparently long deceased Adolph Hitler; Future Time, a French captain who enlists an army of dark-skinned androids on a quest to track down Hitler, who Future Time believes is alive and hidden away somewhere; and Meng and Ecker, deformed twins subjected to horrific experiments in Auschwitz who have since sworn allegiance to Lord Horror.
     Ultra-violence, psychosexual weirdness and anti-Semitism are constants in this mad universe, and only grow increasingly prevalent as the novel advances. Hitler, it turns out, is indeed still alive, and becomes a pivotal character in the book’s final third. It’s then that the most notorious passage occurs, depicting a “final solution” devised by Lord Horror that involves an act of surreal cannibalism followed by a catharsis of sorts involving a literal bed of excrement, and also a hat comprised of disembodied vaginas.
     If such imagery doesn’t offend you the constant racism just might (did I mention that in addition to Lord Horror’s many anti-Semitic rants the dark-skinned androids speak in exaggerated Uncle Tom dialect?). Nor do I think too many Neo-Nazis or rednecks will enjoy the book, which includes several lengthy diatribes on art history, the theories of Sigmund Freud and other weighty subjects. LORD HORROR’S brilliance, I’d argue, is in its idiosyncratic juxtaposition of historical speculation, surreal invention and sheer outrage, which not all readers will appreciate. Those elements were better integrated, of course, in the subsequent Lord Horror novels, to which this volume stands as a most compelling and provocative warm-up. - www.fright.com/edge/LordHorror.htm

David Britton, Motherfuckers: The Auschwitz of Oz, Savoy Books, 1996.

"The Citizen Kane of Bad Taste. There's so much evil energy in this book, if it moved next door to you you'd probably get cancer within a week! In the long-awaited sequel to David Britton's first novel, Lord Horror (and Savoy's contender for the 1996 Booker Prize for Fiction) the great horror of modern history is absorbed into the framework of Surrealism, literary fantasy and the darkest children's fiction. By viewing the Holocaust as a tragicomic carnival of the grotesque, the author offers the reader a vivid, dream-level identification with the era of efficient barbarism. A terrain of unfettered imagination, written to the glorious edgy, spooky, intense, mad, weird Rock'n'Roll and Rhythm'n'Blues music of the 1950s, from a series of tapes compiled for David Britton by the legendary Roger Eagle. Roger provided us with the best and most obscure down home Blues, Rockabilly, Hilly-Country and Rockin' instrumentals from that seething decade. His experience and unrivalled musical library helped reinforce the musical motifs that run through Motherfuckers. Clubman and DJ extraordinaire, Roger was a friend of ours for thirty years. A word to the wise: Roger was owner The Magic Village Club in Manchester and helped form the Punk movement of the '70s with his seminal Liverpool club, Eric's. As a promoter he brought to Britain many Blues performers (Bo Diddley, LaVern Baker, Screamin' Jay Hawkins) and a number of Jamaican artists, particularly Lee 'Scratch' Perry."

"You can't get much more crazed, obscene or furious than David Britton whose take on the Holocaust, while in no way disrespectful, matches the event itself for a sense of horror. I know of no writer confronting the greatest crime of the 20th Century in the same effective way. Motherfuckers: The Auschwitz of Oz is one of his three Lord Horror novels. You need a strong stomach.” - MICHAEL MOORCOCK

"Another publishing milestone for Savoy... (the chapter Oi Swiney!) must be seen as David Britton's personal vision of Hell—like a Bosch painting animated by Merry Melodies." - DAVID M MITCHELL
"A bizarre and outrageous confection of riotous, Rabelaisian imagery." - NEW STATESMAN

"Some writers would argue that to tackle a subject as emotionally vast and prickly as the Holocaust takes enormous sensitivity and guile. I repeat: not David Britton. In Motherfuckers murder is played for laughs. Against a background of Nazism, anti-Semitism, and the presence of (mainly American) rock'n'roll (on the very first page, Lord Horror is described both as a "sidewinding rattler" and as the "Be-Bop-A-Lula of Auschwitz") this phantasmagorical horror novel ranges between concentration camps and tea rooms. It is one of the darkest things I have ever read.
Meng and Ecker are bizarre creations. Creations in the sense of being characters invented by David Britton; but also that they are the products of both cosmetic and scientific experimentation. Meng, for example, has silicone implants in his breasts. (On being told that he will be "the sexiest man on earth" Meng asks, "Any chance of giving me a two-foot dick..." His nipples, we are told, "stood out as firm as corn cobs.") Although they have a tea-room business, Meng is also something of a stand-up comic—at least in his own mind—and he spends an entire chapter telling highly racist jokes ("Napalm Africa, that was his dream"). In the absence of Lord Horror, he is fulfilling an ambition: using the experience of stand-up to recite some childishly rude doggerel; to obtain some sexual gratification; oh, and he also murders some people while he's there.
Ecker is the more sedate of the two, not surprisingly. It would be difficult to make a character more extreme than Meng, but I wouldn't be amazed to learn that Britton is working on the challenge. Ecker is given to the more profound thoughts (out of the two characters at least): "Auschwitz, thought Ecker, is a semaphore from the past that spelled future." And he also is fluent on subjects that might never have crossed a more genteel mind: "Stoats don't die of syphilis anymore." Thanks for passing that on.
This novel contains some beautiful writing and some excellent descriptive passages that work by the sheer unusualness of a word or two. For example, "An old-aged pensioner, stripped to the waist, his skinny chest flecked with sepia, managed to stagger towards Meng." That word sepia is so unexpected that the sentence is lifted. When I interviewed the editor of this book, Michael Butterworth, he informed me that the publisher's original aim, some quarter of a century ago, had been to marry together high and low art. Motherfuckers, in a sense, is just such a consummation. More than any other writer, this book reminded me of William S. Burroughs—more because of the attitude than the style of writing.
So what's it all "about"? What were The Naked Lunch and The Soft Machine "about"? Far be it for me to assume to know David Britton's aims and objectives (and my request for an interview with him was politely declined), but if I was to hazard a guess I'd say he was trying to extrapolate current trends to their logically illogical conclusions. It might be argued that if every age gets the art it deserves, then what the hell did we do to deserve this? It is powerful, frightening and goading. I was even quite nervous about reading it in public, because of the swastika on the dustcover; I'm frightened of being beaten up." - DAVE MATHEWS

"A nightmarish fairy tale, a deep-black comedy and, of course, the long-awaited follow-up to Lord Horror.

Welcome to the insane world of Meng and Ecker, mutant twins rescued from Auschwitz and used for ‘research’ purposes by Dr. Mengele. We’ve reached the end of the line, where the next cattle train is about to unload its living cargo of Jews, Gypsies, giants and dwarves. The twins are vile, enslaved by their appetites. They haunt Manchester, New Orleans and Auschwitz, time-travelling back and forth in a terrain of unfettered imagination. This is the Land Of Do-As-You-Please, the place where the macabrely detailed dreamscapes of Lautreamont and Sade meet the popular, commonsense fantasy of the likes of Roald Dahl, adapted in part from Savoy’s world famous, universally acclaimed - ok, it ought to be - Meng & Ecker comic, with a host of mesmerising supporting characters. Some early issues of the comic are actually still banned - only the Lord Horror novel was legitimised after the appeal, supported by Geoffrey Robertson - making them the only banned comics in England. The comics are hilarious. This reads as darker, however.
Hard to credit though it is, Meng and Ecker are descended from Fudge and Speck, elves from Fudge the Elf, the much-loved Manchester Evening News comic strip by Ken Reid, creator of Roger the Dodger, Faceache, etc. What was possibly the worst horror of modern history gets absorbed into the framework of surrealism, literary fan-tasy and the darkest children’s fiction. By viewing the Holocaust as a tragicomic carnival of the grotesque, Britton offers his readers a vivid, dream-level identification with efficient barbarism, just as Hansel and Gretel introduced children to the reality of infanticide. Meng and Ecker are no longer represented uncritically, as in the comic (where they are heroic figures of a kind), but as living, sickening symptoms of a distorted, perverted world. Motherfuckers makes scary reading at times but is, despite being reference-laden and serious, perfectly readable. A book of monsters. Real modern horror. And there's a lovely surprise under that jacket picture of William Blake's 'The Ghost of a Flea'. - Dave Clark

"Motherfuckers is the latest addition to a vast Cthulhu-like saga that spans the novel Lord Horror, the graphic series Lord Horror, Meng & Ecker and Reverbstorm, and even musical ventures such as the Savoy Wars CD. If you haven't come across any of these it is, however, hardly surprising. Ever since 1980 their publisher, the Manchester-based Savoy, has been subjected to what can only be described as a concerted campaign by Manchester police and magistrates to keep their publications out of distribution and thus close them down entirely.
After a decade of raids and harassment the novel Lord Horror was declared obscene in 1991 but, although it was reprieved on appeal in 1992, the police refused point blank to return all but a handful of the copies they'd originally seized. And, in 1996, after a long legal battle, obscenity charges were upheld on a number of the graphic titles, which were subsequently destroyed. In France or Italy their illustrator, John Coulthart, would be spoken of in the same breath as Guido Crepax, and his work would be freely available in those sections of bookshops routinely devoted to graphic art. Here Crepax is barely known, most bookshops wouldn't dream of stocking what they'd regard as "comics", Coulthart and co. are arraigned in court as pornographers and even fascists, and their work is ignominiously consigned to the flames. But there again, this is England. It's always hard to discuss anything emanating from Savoy without digressing at some length into the history of the campaign against them. However, this is simply one of the more insidious ways in which censorship works to suppress discussion of censored texts themselves. Those interested in this particular story might like to refer to my "Savoy Scrapbook" in Index on Censorship, Vol. 25, No. 1, 1996.
Although Motherfuckers is part of a vast and increasingly sprawling mythos it can, however, be read perfectly easily without any knowledge of its forbears and near-relations. Its cast of characters and frames of reference are truly gargantuan, and no respecters of conventional distinctions between "fact" and "fiction" or between "high" and "popular" culture. Thus figures such as Tank Girl, Lohengrin, Judge Dredd and Parsifal intermingle deliriously with Eliot, Auden, New Order and Madonna. The main figures around whom the extremely loose narrative revolves are themselves purely fictional, although their names make playful reference to notorious real characters from recent history. These are: Lord Horror (after "Lord Haw-Haw", aka William Joyce, the traitorous World War II broadcaster), Meng (after Joseph Mengele, the notorious doctor known as the "exterminating angel" of Auschwitz) and Ecker (after Dietrich Eckhart, editor of the Nazi newspaper the Völkischer Beobachter). Meng and Ecker themselves are mutant twins "rescued" and operated on by Mengele for research purposes, and the story concerns their search for their "creator" through shattered, dislocated space and time.
Motherfuckers, then, deals with two of the most difficult subjects of our time—fascism and the Holocaust. Given the huge number of books devoted to these themes this is hardly very daring or exceptionable. What does mark out the book as different—and, for some, distinctly problematic—is that it chooses to explore these themes within the framework of grotesque, Rabelaisian fantasy. In this respect the book's subtitle, "The Auschwitz of Oz", says it all, as does, in a different way, its prefatory quotation from Wordsworth's The Prelude -
All moveables of wonder from all parts,
Are here, Albinos, painted Indians, Dwarfs,
The Horse of Knowledge, and the learned Pig,
The Stone-eater, the Man that swallows fire,
Giants, Ventriloquists, the Invisible Girl,
The Bust that speaks, and moves its goggling eyes,
The Wax-work, Clock-work, all the marvellous craft
Of modern Merlins, wild Beasts, Puppet-shows,
All out-o'way, far-fetched, perverted things.
All Freaks of Nature, all Promethean thoughts
Of Man; his dulness, madness, and their feats,
All jumbled up together to make up
This Parliament of Monster. Tents and Booths
Meanwhile, as if the whole were one vast Mill,
Are vomiting, receiving, on all sides,
Men, Women, Three-years' Children, Babes in Arms.

The conjunction of this deliberately shocking, tasteless pun with the evocation of one of the "greats" of Eng Lit perfectly sums up Motherfuckers' extraordinary cultural and tonal heterogeneity. For what distinguishes it in literary terms is its vertiginous fusion of elements which, even in these allegedly "post-modern" times, seem almost outrageously diverse and jarring. On the one hand the book clearly draws on the fantastic current in English writing (the gothic, Swift, Carroll, Hodgson, Grahame), but there's also an input from more specifically continental transgressors of conventions, both social and textual, such as de Sade, Lautréamont, Huysmans, Bataille and Céline. But this already heady brew is made more potent still by a huge repertoire of references to the endless minutiae of popular culture both past and present, as well as by the productive influence of science fiction of the Dick, Lem, Adams and Ballard varieties. All of this would make for a pretty intoxicating mix in any circumstances; as a framework for investigating fascism and, more particularly, its continuing popular appeal, it's potentially explosive.
Works which deal with fascism's appeal always run the risk of themselves being labelled "fascist", as indeed happened to Lord Horror. In this respect it's perhaps worth quoting from the introduction to the Czech edition of that book. This was written by Brian Stableford (who defended Lord Horror in court) and his remarks apply equally to Motherfuckers. (It is, of course, a sobering thought that you can buy Lord Horror in the Czech Republic but not in the UK):
Britton's Lord Horror proudly wears the glamour of Fascism, and exhibits the prejudices and aspirations fundamental to Nazism. This characterisation is meant to excite revulsion and anxiety; the plot of the novel endeavours to achieve its revelations by means of shock tactics. Lord Horror is a horror story, an alarmist fantasy, and a provocatively shocking text. The narrative is sometimes very funny and sometimes utterly repulsive, seeking by means of such huge swings of mood to enhance its overall effect. The imagery of the story borrows on the one hand from comic-strip art and on the other from the philosophical Weltanschauung of Schopenhauer, attempting through such odd juxtapositions to heighten the reader's sense of the awful absurdity of the polite veneer which hides the politics of genocide. Lord Horror deals with unpleasant subject-matter: race-hatred; the glamour of Fascism; the psychology of oppression and repression. The author's method of dealing with these subjects is one whose roots are to be found in the sarcastic fantasies of the French and English Decadent movements and in the theatricality of Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi. The novel's central characters are gaudy grotesques and their adventures constitute a phantasmagorical black comedy. Their actions, attitudes and aspirations are satirically exaggerated to the point of ludicrous caricature.
Motherfuckers, like Lord Horror, is a remarkable contribution to the study of what Susan Sontag has called "fascinating fascism". One of its most interesting aspects is the way in which it suggests that the legacy of the camps has now become immanent and all-embracing. Again, there's nothing particularly new in this—the French were talking about "l'univers concentrationnaire" years ago—but the way in which Britton tackles the theme is characteristically multi-faceted. On the one hand, there's the idea that the Holocaust was so appalling that its memory is indelibly branded on our present and future, so that nothing can ever be the same again (thus Adorno's dictum that "after Auschwitz, to write a poem is barbaric"):
leviathan hells were vast tidal hurricanes, sweeping all before them, emanating in unceasing waves from the point of suffering, staining, polluting the core of the Earth: Auschwitz, Dachau, Belsen, roasting hells forever travelling through the earth.There then follows a quote from what purports to be Lord Horror's brother, James (i.e. James Joyce, in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) to the effect that:
Earthly fire consumes what it burns, the fire of Hell has this property, that it preserves that which it burns and though it rages with incredible intensity, it rages forever.And that is why, according to Britton, "a work of fiction that would do justice to the Holocaust must take as its first principle the shattering of chronology."
On the other hand, however, and rather more controversially, there's also the idea that the camps represent an image of the globalised commercial future. And here Britton's ambivalent fascination with popular culture comes into play:
Fifty years on, Horror had confided to Ecker, Auschwitz would be a recognisable brand name, a mythic character as well-known as Sherlock Holmes or Tarzan. A fortune awaited the author who could bring "Mr Auschwitz" to life. To recreate the persona of Auschwitz would be an ordained mission. Auschwitz, the holy end-all of life's futile pattern, slinking through the subconscious of humanity, the one archetypal riff common to all nightmares, fuelled on the anvil of Little Richard. In a hundred years, Auschwitz would form its own genre and become the most successfully marketed product in the history of the world, a name as well-known globally as Coca Cola, taking all media under its encompassing umbrella. The camps were the obvious ultimate enclosed world, the desired image of world television, beamed by satellite into each city, town and village, ideal for community soap operas (a story of everyday life on the outer edge of life), of science fiction time travel (travel back through your life and end it in Auschwitz).And indeed, much later in the novel we discover that "the future craze for virtual reality games was already intruding thousands of phantom 'tourists' into Auschwitz."
At one point Britton quotes what purports to be a Japanese postcard from T S Eliot to Lord Horror. (In fact it's an amalgam of Eliot with Michael Mann on his extraordinary Nazi horror movie The Keep). This is in one of the book's most Borgesian sections in which Horror flits through the lives and works of all sorts of 1930s notables such as the Mitford sisters, Lawrence, Cyril Connolly and Constant Lambert, although Britton characteristically complicates the mix by having Horror also corresponding with pulp science fiction figures such as Otis Adelbert Kline, Ray Cummings and Nictzin Dyalhis. In the card Eliot writes that:
To me, psychopathology and romance manifested on a political level equals fascism. It's the disease of the Twentieth Century. Its sick appeal is best understood within a horrific, dark fairy tale.This Motherfuckers most undoubtedly is, and it is at its most hallucinatory and demented in the chapter entitled "Oi Swiney!" (a clear echo of one of the most terrifying fantasy novels in the English language, William Hope Hodgson's The House on the Borderland). Here Meng and Ecker (in the company of the little red talking VW Beetle Herbie Schopenhauer) are treated, like Hodgson's central character, to a sustained vision of Armageddon. In this case it's the "harbour of Belsen-Bergen", in which the landscape of the concentration camps collides deliriously. insanely, with Blackpool's Golden Mile. Quotation simply cannot do justice to these brain-searing twenty-four pages, although trying to imagine the worst horrors of Bosch, Goya and Dix animated by Tex Avery and Jan Svankmajer might give you some idea of what they're like. It's at this point, in particular, that one remembers George Steiner's remark about the "subtle and corrupting fascination" of the Holocaust and his warning that no one "however scrupulous, who spends time and imaginative resources on those dark places, can, or indeed, ought to leave them personally intact."
But if Motherfuckers can be read as a "horrific, dark fairy tale" it can also be seen as a philosophical fable in the mould of Candide or Justine, with Herbie Schopenhauer in the title role. For example, when we first meet Herbie he has just driven off the production line and resolved that:
no matter what obstacles stood in his way he would absorb all that the world had to offer, dwell in Chatterbox Woods until he understood the mysteries of life, and follow the path trod by Hegel, Kierkegaard, (etc.), until his rivets were bursting with the rich intellectual semen of life.By the time he has experienced the horrors of the harbour of Belsen-Bergen, however, he has decided that:
Next time he would not allow diffidence and inane curiosity to lead him bow-legged away so easily from the meaning of life. In the future, he would hang on to every fucking word Meng and Ecker uttered.In this respect, the finally "enlightened" Herbie seems close to the animating spirit of Motherfuckers itself, a book which refuses to deal with fascism and the Holocaust with the gravitas normally accorded to them. It's not that it doesn't take them deadly seriously but, rather, like To Be Or Not To Be, The Great Dictator or The Producers, it uses humour as a powerful weapon against "fascinating fascism" and realises that mere moralising probably does more harm than good:
Killing Jews produced its own dynamic—and could never be policed by "good taste". Down that path lay a recipe for further genocide. The killing grounds were elemental and contagious—and often outrageously funny, if selectively so. Meng's 'Jokes" had been appreciated by both sides. After all, they reflected the world as it was, and who knew that better? Certainly not the hopeless wish fulfilment dreams of the moralists. Humanitarians might still regard the twins as vulgar and trivial, but they'd learn. Spraying disinfectant in the dustbin of life after the disease had left was rapidly becoming mankind's favourite pastime. And a prime waste of fucking time.This is obviously not a book which will be to everyone's taste. It is, however, a book about which readers should be able to make up their own minds. On the basis of Savoy's past experience this doesn't seem very likely. With publications relating to all aspects of the Third Reich now a minor industry, and shops stocking books with "fuck" and its derivatives in their titles, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that Savoy are paying the price for breaking one of the last taboos—dealing with fascism and the Holocaust in ways deemed "inappropriate" by our moral, cultural and ideological guardians.
Kafka once said that:
we should read only those books that bite and sting us. If a book does not rouse us with a blow, then why read it?Motherfuckers does all of these things and, in my opinion, should be commended for it. But even if one finds Kafka's view of the purposes of literature a trifle masochistic one should surely have the right, in a supposedly democratic country at the end of the twentieth century, to decide for oneself not only about Motherfuckers but about all Savoy's other publications too. - Julian Petley
David Britton, Baptised In The Blood Of Millions, Savoy Books, 2001.

 "Don't let the perversely generic jacket of this book deceive you. Art prompts questions. Only bad art gives answers. David Britton's novel, Lord Horror, published in 1990, became the first book to be banned in England since Hubert Selby Jnr's Last Exit to Brooklyn in 1968. Geoffrey Robertson QC and Article 19 led the appeal in 1992, when the ban was overturned.
Baptised in the Blood of Millions is the second Lord Horror novel.
Allegedly an 'autobiographical' work, the book is set in a very bizarre alternate universe in England before and after the Second World War. Events are rendered in Symbolist fashion and explore the British Fascism of Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts and war-time radio broadcaster Lord Haw-Haw. Other dramatis personae include pop icon Jack Good, 1950s parliamentarian Lord Boothby, philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, poetess Sylvia Plath and the biggest English movie star of the 1930s, Jessie Matthews. Includes illustrations by the author.
We guarantee you will never read another novel like this one!"

"The nightmare for my generation was waking one morning to a world in which Hitler had won the war. Our fears were expressed in a flood of counterfactual stories - what Professor Gavriel Rosenfeld, in a new book on those fictions, calls "allohistories" (from the Greek "allo" for "altered" or "other"). These included Sarban's terrifying The Sound of His Horn, which imagined a future where Nazi overlords hunt untermenschen for sport, and Philip K Dick's The Man in the High Castle, where America is carved up between vicious Nazis in the east and stern Japanese in the west.
In 1964 Hilary Bailey's examination of Nazi metaphysics, The Fall of Frenchy Steiner, had a virgin bride being sought for a senile Führer. Bestselling mysteries by Len Deighton and Robert Harris, SS-GB and Fatherland respectively, in which Nazi victory is long established when the story opens, and films such as Brownlow's chilling It Happened Here, imagined a British response to occupation no more or less heroic than that of other conquered nations.
While Saki had foreseen posh Britons accommodating German rule in his predictive novel When William Came, published on the eve of the First World War (in which he was killed), writers predicting Nazi conquest - Katherine Burdekin's Swastika Night, Vita Sackville-West's Grand Canyon, HV Morton's I, James Blunt - warned how appeasement would actually deliver us to Hitler.
In 1947, Noël Coward's play Peace in Our Time showed Britain occupied by victorious Nazis, confirming the anti-appeasement message, but later politicians and journalists in America, including Pat Buchanan and Newt Gingrich, revived isolationist positions, arguing that Allied military engagement against Hitler was a mistake. American television programmes, comics, movies and books were chiefly interested in wartime strategic issues or Hitler's reincarnation as a monster, and tended to ignore questions regarding Nazi psychopathology and Jewish genocide.
Only a few books, such as Walter Shirer's If Hitler Had Won World War Two and Daniel Quin's After Dachau, confronted the Holocaust. The political "futurist" Norman Spinrad's The Iron Dream revealed heroic fantasy's fascistic elements by depicting Hitler as a genial, geeky immigrant to the US whose pulp novels, including Lord of the Swastika, disturbingly echo the actuality of our familiar world. Spinrad's book was banned in Germany for a decade.
For obvious reasons, few alternative histories came from formerly occupied countries. Indeed, only Germany produced substantial Nazi allohistories. Thomas Ziegler's Die Stimmen der Nacht and Christoph Ransmayr's Morbus Kitahara, Rosenfeld tells us, blame Germany's failure to repent for the Holocaust on "a clumsy Allied programme of compulsory contrition".
A well-established commercial genre, including role-playing games, nowadays concentrates on nostalgic reruns of the Second World War, sometimes adding dragons and warlocks to the mix. Futuristic science fiction once satisfied this genre's audience by offering worlds in which the Bomb had reduced everything to an easily handled libertarian simplicity, but JG Ballard turned that escapist fantasy on its head in books such as The Drowned World.
So far no sci-fi work has done the same with allohistory. Even Philip Roth's recent novel The Plot Against America, where popular ex-flyer President Lindbergh keeps the US out of the war, largely dodges an issue better confronted by Kurt Vonnegut's masterpiece, Mother Night, or Michael Chabon's Kavalier and Clay, both retrospective narratives focusing on actual rather than alternative Nazi history. In fact, no matter how satirical or clever (Stephen Fry's Making History; Martin Amis's Time's Arrow), the allohistory has proven a rather disappointing form.
Only one alternate history series confronted Nazism with appropriate originality and passion. Published by the independent Manchester firm Savoy, David Britton's surreal Lord Horror and its sequels entered the mind of a deranged surviving Hitler whose visions grew increasingly insane. Britton's graphic novel Hard Core Horror turned William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) into Lord Horror, while James Joyce became his brother, and his rival for the hand of singer Jessie Matthews.
Britton's narrative moved inevitably towards Auschwitz. The novel's final issue, with its deliberately blank narrative panels among pictures of the concentration camp (followed by actual photographs of victims), was a silent memorial to the murdered, an indictment of our own moral complicity. Soon after they appeared, Hard Core Horror and Lord Horror were seized by Manchester's vice squad. The books were destroyed and their author went to Strangeways, suggesting that successful Nazi alternate histories must take profound psychological, moral and physical risks.
To retain any moral authority, Hitlerian allohistories have to confront Nazi psychopathology. Some of the stories described here reflect Holocaust survival guilt. Where they do not, as in the case of one "pacifist" apologist for appeasement, they reveal a form of Holocaust denial. At the end of his substantial study, even Rosenfeld admits that most of the material he examined avoids considerably more than it confronts." - Michael Moorcock

David Britton and Kris Guidio, The Adventures of Meng & Ecker, Savoy Books, 1997.  

Two hundred and sixty pages of the best comic strips on this fucking earth taken from Savoy's notoriously banned and bad Meng & Ecker comics, and including previously unpublished work (Meng & Ecker #10 & 11, only available in this format). Hard to credit, perhaps, but the 'creep boy' servants of Lord Horror ('Lord Haw-Haw') are also blood descendants of Fudge & Speck, two pixie characters from a Manchester Evening News children's comic strip. Meng & Ecker was the first comic to be banned in England, declared obscene by Judge Gerard Humphries on 18th July, 1992, despite a strong defence by top freedom QC, Geoffrey Robertson. On 17th July, 1995, thousands more assorted Meng & Ecker and Lord Horror comics were confined to the flames by Stipendiary Magistrate Jane Hayward, who disallowed a jury trial and then found the works obscene and likely to corrupt. This new collection will enable a fresh audience to discover through Waterstone's, Dillon's and other high-street bookshops some of the most ferocious graphics and texts of all time. Meng & Ecker appears again, despite the might of the British judicial system, all 'right-thinking' people and inane moralists everywhere to prevent its publication. It is from Manchester. David Britton is England's most imprisoned and suppressed writer. Kris Guidio is this country's most lurid and baroque comic artist. Meng & Ecker is the best comic book in the world!

“Enthusiasm for the mysterious emissaries of pulp”: an interview with David Britton

Lord Horror: A History Of Savoy Publishing 
Carol Huston discusses with its enigmatic founders, the publisher's turbulent history and the influence and circumstance that lead to its iconic output
The six-foot-two vegan writer, publisher and editor makes me another cup of strong black coffee in his flat in central Manchester overlooking the Hilton Tower. Sitting in the cluttered living room chatting, the sixty-five year old skinhead talks about several instances he’s known of people who have drowned in Mancunian canals over the years. His friend, who is smoking rollies in the background, laughs cynically and jokes, ‘Don’t hang around this guy. Your books won’t sell and you’ll end up in the river.’ This guy is Michael Butterworth, who has co-run indie publisher Savoy since 1976 with the enigmatic David Britton, whom Butterworth fondly refers to as ‘Devious’.
Savoy began as innovative paperback publishers, and in the Eighties and Nineties they moved on to include records and graphic works. As Butterworth offers up pieces of organic dark chocolate, it’s hard to imagine this generous man’s office and bookshops were raided by the Manchester Obscene Publications Squad more than sixty times, in a battle with the Manchester police that became known in Savoy mythology as the Savoy Wars. As political correctness took hold of the nation in the Eighties, it was a conflict that also encompassed attacks from the Left – from the alternative culture from which Savoy had grown. The company managed to piss off just about everyone. The story of Savoy is a tricky one, rife with judicial encounters and imprisonment. But, as always, there is another side to this coin – a softer side which often remains unsung.
Butterworth met Britton in Manchester in the early Seventies, and n 1996 told GQ: ‘Back in the Sixties, I was living on Ladbroke Grove and writing for New Worlds magazine.’ It was during this time that Butterworth befriended JG Ballard, who took Butterworth – as a young New Wave science fiction writer – under his wing. In a letter dated from 1967, Ballard gave Butterworth the sage advice to ‘never use more than one adjective per noun.’
In the early Seventies Butterworth moved back to Manchester with his family and worked in advertising for a brief spell. He continues, describing how he met Britton, ‘I was a freelance writer and novelist for a while. I edited New Vegetarian magazine and wrote sci-fi fantasy. At the same time Dave was running a bookshop, The House on the Borderland. We were both publishing small press fiction, fantasy and art magazines, and with my contacts and his money decided to get together to do something on a larger scale’.
Along with two other bookshops, The House on the Borderland was frequented by Joy Division’s Ian Curtis and Steven Morris in the late Seventies. Britton remembers Morris as an ‘Art Tripp and Michael Moorcock fan who had been expelled from school for some charming skulduggery’. Butterworth told Jon Savage a couple years ago that Curtis and Morris seemed to be ‘disparate, alienated young men attracted to like-minded souls. They wanted something offbeat and off the beaten track, and the shop supplied this. They probably saw it as a beacon in the rather bleak Manchester of the early 70s. They came in every couple of weeks, sometimes more often. Ian bought second-hand copies of New Worlds, the great 60s literary magazine edited by Michael Moorcock, which was promoting Burroughs and Ballard.’ Curtis and Butterworth went on to become friends around 1979 and Curtis often visited Butterworth’s lodger’s house in Altrincham.

(Photograph by Stephen Iles

Butterworth remembers, ‘I got to know Ian because of his interest in William Burroughs. I gave him books we’d done, and he invited me to Joy Division gigs. He was a clerk at the DHSS, and quite reserved, but by night he was a bizarre performer with weird, half-reluctant jerky movements. Watching him sing could actually be painful… Just as our friendship was building and Joy Division were on the eve of touring America, of course, Ian killed himself.’ After Curtis’s death, Savoy’s Butterworth and Britton teamed up with PJ Proby in the early Eighties to record or ‘massacre’ - in Britton’s words - some of Joy Division’s tracks including ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. In spite of his humility, however, Melody Maker described the cover as ‘the complete portrait of sexual paranoia. Proby’s [version] is a full-blown Hitchcock masterpiece.’ Of the decision to commission Proby for recordings, including a reading of Lord Horror, Britton recalled: ‘It is the correct Savoy perversity to put PJ Proby in the aural landscape as we did, to try and capture that malignant spark that Good and Cohn had seen in him. He was never a Scott Walker, a Tom Jones or a Robbie Williams, he was being fashioned in a more apocalyptic stew. For us he was definitely the right man in the right place at the right time, and if anyone doesn’t believe that – go and listen to the records.’
But Savoy wasn’t all music and books. The same year that Savoy was founded, James Anderton became Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police. Savoy describes his reign as creating a continuous criticism of their work and that Anderton and his men were ‘locked in a seeming conspiracy’ against them. After countless raids into Savoy’s bookshops and offices, seizing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of materials, Savoy Books was forced into temporary liquidation in 1981. They lost publishing copyrights and so became book packagers to survive the blow.
The Manchester Police continued to raid Savoy after Britton and Butterworth had begun producing their own works in order to regain copyrights, commencing with the insurgent novel Lord Horror – the works that have led American anthologists Jeff and Ann VanderMeer to hail them as precursors of the New Weird. After Lord Horror was published in 1989, the graphic title got seized by the police. Police raids continued until 1997 and some Savoy titles were seized by UK Customs in 1999.
In May of 1982, Britton was dealt a twenty-eight day sentence imposed by Manchester Judge James Hardy as result of a police raid in 1980. Britton recalls, ‘Strangeways Prison, then, in 1982, was a truly terrible place, the equal in terror and intimidation of a prison in a corrupt third world country. When people are being burned alive in cells opposite, you get some hint of what Auschwitz must have been like. Prison didn’t cure me. It just made me more bitter, and more determined to retaliate.’
The illustrator of Lord Horror, John Coulthart, recalled of the early raids, ‘The police seemed especially concerned with the German slogans I put into the pictures [of Lord Horror], so much so that they had them translated – foreign languages not being a speciality of the Greater Manchester Police. We were never given any explanation for this. The unstated implication seemed to be that we were trying to plant Nazi propaganda into young minds. The irony – as if there wasn’t enough already – was that the slogans were place there as a critique of the usual propaganda.’
Savoy has announced the early 2013 publication of the eighth and culminating graphic title in the Lord Horror series, Reverbstorm. The comic began life as a Lord Horror film treatment Butterworth and Britton did for Harvey Weinstein, but quickly took on a life of its own in the freewheeling Savoy hothouse. Its title derives from a Northern Soul track and the novel itself abounds with references to pop culture, including Captain Beefheart. The Lord Horror graphic series attempts to deconstruct Western literature and philosophy, quoting from TS Eliot and James Joyce as well as referencing canonical artists like Georges Seurat. In characteristic Lord Horror picaresque style, the creative team behind the book including author Britton, editor Butterworth and artist John Coulthart often use a slapstick approach to taboo subjects such as Hitler and Auschwitz.
Coulthart explains, ‘The creation of Reverbstorm took the path of most of Savoy’s original works whereby a number of key ingredients were laid down as a starting pint from with the work “jess grew”, to borrow a phrase of Ishmael Reed’s. Needless to say, most comic artists who are used to working from very tight scripts would find this situation impossible to cope with. Improvisation is a common thing in music, of course, and novels are frequently written without much sense of how they might develop. Yet for some reason comics, by which I mean English-language comics, show a deep resistance to these methods, the implication being that it’s far better to plot everything out with a hackneyed storyline than just jump in and see where the thing goes… With Reverbstorm this format of presenting eight issues had the advantage of giving a structure to a narrative that might otherwise have been somewhat uneven.’
Continuing to discuss his sources for Reverbstorm, he explains, ‘The ingredients, then were largely hangovers from the film treatment: Horror, Jessie and James Joyce in a New York-like city, themes and references from the “Reverbstorm” song lyrics (Ether Jumpers), Blue Blaze Laudanum, the “Souls”, and some (initially) token art reference concerning the Seurat pictures and their relation to Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George. Dave gave me some of Burne Hogarth’s Tarzan books to look at for atmosphere and character presentation; I then suggested that we should have apes in the city (thinking of King Kong and all the other rampaging urban apes in films of the Thirties.) Picasso crept in pretty quickly after that, and finally we ended up with Hogarth’s Ononoes in the mix as well. These appear in Lord Horror, but this was the first time they’d featured in a comic since Hogarth had created them in the late Forties…. Three visual leitmotifs are established for the three main characters: Picasso for Horror, Seurat for Jessie and Finnegans Wake for Joyce (with text ripped from the book and stuck on the pages).’
Of Savoy’s success, Britton says, ‘We never actually made money out of Savoy – and still don’t. Not one book returns its financial investment.’ Britton remembers how in the early days the Savoy offices got sent Kathy Acker’s Blood and Guts in Highschool, which they rejected and now consider a mistake. Savoy describes itself as ‘England’s truly alternative and autotelic publishing company’. And perhaps it is.
The defiantly Northern English publishers couldn’t care less about being on trend or of the moment. Opting for indifference and black humour, Savoy celebrates anarchy, its punk heritage and a penchant for the uncanny. - Carol Huston  thequietus.com/articles/10988-michael-butterworth-savoy-publisher-interview

Ballardian did an excellent series of interviews with Savoy books, that can be read here.
Interview with John Coulthart