written and/or illustrated by Ben Wickey
By Ki Longfellow
The Illustrated Vivian Stanshall, a Fairytale of Grimm Art is about art. It’s about artists. It’s about what artists do and who they are and why they can’t help themselves. It’s about the desperate misery of creation and the self-abandoned joy of it. It’s about the writer, Ki Longfellow. But most of all, it’s about Vivian Stanshall, the last of the Bohemians and the greatest comic and greatest wordsmith of his time. He would have been the greatest painter if he'd painted more. Vivian led a storied life, a genuinely tragic life, a life in which everything was art.
"THE ONE GREAT COMIC TALENT BRITISH MUSIC HAS PRODUCED, HIS LIFE WAS A TEXTBOOK VERSION OF ECCENTRICITY, EXCESS AND SURREALISM TAKING OVER THE LIFE OF CREATIVITY... HIS LIFE WAS EMBLEMATIC OF THE UNDERTOW OF EXCESS THAT ILLUMINATED THE SIXTIES' UNDERGROUND WITH SUCH A LURID GLARE."
- Bohemians: The Glamorous Outcasts, Elizabeth Wilson (Rutgers University Press, 2000)
Stuffed full of photographs, paintings, sketches, illustrations, paper dolls, a ship's model, a coloring page and flip book, this book is not a biography. Not of Vivian Stanshall and not of the band Vivian fronted: England's beloved Bonzo Dog Band. It's not exactly a memoir... although there are elements of both. But only enough to give a shape to the thing.
Between this book's pages you might not find the Vivian you knew or thought you'd want to know, but it's the behind-the-scenes, beneath the sheets, under the bed man Ki Longfellow-Stanshall knew for eighteen years.
Not every voice is recorded, only those Vivian considered close, had something vital to say or do, and are still breathing. If Longfellow had written this sooner, Joe Cocker, George Harrison, Keith Moon, John Lennon, Dennis Cowan, Ollie Halsall, John Peel, John Bonham, Jimmy Hendrix, Captain Beefheart, these and more would have hit notes she perhaps didn't hear.
As Ki writes: all memory is Kurosawa's "Rashomon". These are her memories accompanied by Vivian's actual journals.
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*WRITTEN & ILLUSTRATED*
By Ben Wickey
Best described as a "graphic novel," More Weight delves into not only the case of Giles and Martha Corey, two of the twenty men and women wrongfully executed during the Salem Village witchcraft hysteria in 1692, but of the effect of the trials on three proceeding centuries of Salem living and lore. The book is based in part on a play by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the actual court transcripts from the infamous trials. All this, mixed in with surreal dreams and supernatural occurrences, makes More Weight both a compelling historical account, a chilling ghost story, and a thundering moral parable.