or non-traditional art forms that have filled my obsessions,
created my character, entertained me all my life,
and fully influencing my contemporary attitude to art.
1: The Music Video’s of Marilyn Manson (mostly pre-1998)
The album artwork and related videos and other media released with 1996’s album Antichrist Superstar. This was, to date, the coolest thing ever, and still may be. The music is mechanical, maniacal, melodic and majestic; perfectly produced to just the right level of raw, hideous... perfectly, perfect in every way. The videos are Joel-Peter Witkin photographs come to life; twisted bodies, prosthetic limbs, sexual deviation, hell on earth. Antichrist Superstar is the best thing ever... Enjoy the videos for Beautiful People, Tourniquet and Man That You Fear.
...except for the video that started it all for me. The 1995 mini-album Smells Like Children begat possibly the best cover version ever, and my favourite music video to this day, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This). Manson paints his naked body black, dons a cowboy hat and rides on the back of a gigantic pig, Twiggy Ramirez ponces eerily in a stripy thrift dress, Madonna Wayne Gacy spooks about baldishly; there are wedding dresses, doves, stilts, multicoloured clocks sprouting from Manson’s head, and the chest mounted microphone stand. It's style over content, but what style! Forget Antichrist Superstar; this is the new old new best thing ever...
2: The Album Artwork for Insane Clown Posse’s Jokers Cards set
Six Jokers Cards (i.e. albums) complete an epic story arch of violence and heavenly redemption, using imagery of clowns, carnivals and magic as metaphors for religious allegory... and stuff... The first five albums – Carnival of Carnage, Ringmaster, Riddlebox, The Great Milenko and The Amazing Jeckel Brothers - are excellent in terms of originality, production and overall style; the sixth Jokers Card is split into two albums; The Wraith: Shangri-La, which is patchy at best and marks a significant fall in quality; and Hell’s Pit, which is wall to wall embarrassing shit.
The basic rule with ICP is this: if it’s produced by Mike E. Clark it is probably great especially if released before 2000. If it is produced by anyone else and is released in the last ten or so years, it is highly likely to be shite (with a capital shite). The album artwork is minimalist, unique, and striking. Here it is:
3: Asterix comics
I was never a massive comic book fan; of course there was the Beano and the Dandy, then later there was Tank Girl, Judge Dredd and surreptitiously obtained Viz. There was no Tin Tin, and certainly no super heroes; X-Men, what a pile of shit! But the constant for as long as I can ever remember has always been the crafty Gaul Asterix and all his buddies; Obelix the invincible giant and his trusty dog Dogmatix; the druid Getafix who brews a magic potion which gives the Gauls their superhuman strength; Vitalstatistix the chief; Cacofonix the tone-deaf bard; Caesar the Emperor of Rome; some unfortunate pirates, and a whole host of other recurring and one-off characters.
Amazingly there are still loads I have never read, but the ten or so I own I have read repeatedly for about 25 years. My favourite bit is in Asterix the Legionary where our heroes join the Roman foreign legion and find themselves training alongside people from all over the ancient world. There is some great word play and visual jokes involving ways of representing other languages, an interpreter, and various cultural misunderstandings. And there is an ancient Egyptian called Ptenisnet, who speaks in hieroglyphs.