The Oblivion Three (2022)


With Mervyn Peake’s drawings laying down the gauntlet for The Kick-About 57, I decided to attempt some character drawings of my own, as inspired by the trio of villains in my own work of fantastic fiction, Chimera. I don’t really draw, or identify as someone who does, but this bloody Kick-About business keeps prompting me to make exceptions to this and have a go. In common with my approach to these self-portraits, I kept drawing and re-drawing onto the same bits of paper, using the eraser as much as anything else to understand what was working and what wasn’t. I’d say the final illustrations were not so much ‘drawn’ as materialised out of a succession of mistakes, but anyway here they are: the Berserker, the Tealeaf, and Madame Chartreuse, and for your listening pleasure, a short extract from the Chimera audio book, in which the Oblivion Three first make their proper appearance…






The Kick-About #57 ‘Mervyn Peake’


From the percussive, delineated sound-shapes of a Sandy Nelson drum solo, our muse for our previous Kick-About, we are this week riffing on the appreciably softer tones of the drawings by Mervyn Peake, and likewise the richness of his imaginary worlds and all their eccentric inhabitants.


Jordan Buckner

“It’s hard to resist that textural ink approach Peake was famous for. I recognised some of Peake’s work but didn’t have a great knowledge on who he was, or what his work amounted to. It’s wonderful to see that even in his more observational work, that gothic storytelling still feels present.”


www.jordanbuckner.co.uk


Judy Watson

“There’s much to explore in response to Peake’s work, and I don’t think I can do it on one hit, so let us see where it takes me. But to begin with, it has taken me back to two mediums I loved in earlier years but have neglected more recently.

Pen and ink. Obviously this is all about the line. But it’s also about embracing a medium that can’t or won’t be fully controlled. I worked pretty small with these and just enjoyed making lots of small doodles. Perhaps some more finished work will come later.”



And charcoal or soft pastel. This is less about the line and more about the tone, but really it’s a delicate balance of both. And there’s an element of mystery that comes from the smudgy indistinctness. It feeds the imagination. I haven’t found my mojo again with this quite yet, but I have been enjoying the start of the journey.


www.judywatson.net /  Instagram.com/judywatsonart / facebook.com/judywatsonart


Graeme Daly

“Some quick 2 minute sketches of Irish landscapes inspired by Peake’s illustrations.”


@graemedalyart / vimeo.com/graemedaly / linkedin.com/in/graeme-daly / twitter.com/Graeme_Daly / gentlegiant.blog


Francesca Maxwell

“Mervyn Peake! One of the best. The Gormenghast books resonated with me on so many layers with the vivid imagery and the Chinese undertones. No wonder his writing is so intertwined to his drawings and paintings, and to his poetry.  I also use crosshatchings, and often pen and ink, in my drawings and sketches, and also have used it in my drypoint etchings.  I have dozens of them, as I am sure all of you have; sketches while traveling; scribbles of shapes, movements and actions; imaginary places out of moods and dreams; quick ideas for designs and paintings etc. etc. I put together few here that, for me catch the often dark mood in Peake’s drawings.” 


www.FBM.me.uk


Phil Cooper

“I didn’t get through Gormenghast when I tried to read it as a teenager, but its otherworldly gothic atmosphere and Mervyn Peake’s peculiar illustrations stayed with me. This prompt is a welcome opportunity to return to that strange world.  I’ve used collage to build a fragment of Gormenghast Castle, layering battlements, turrets and towers to try and create a place that is at once vaguely familiar and frustratingly impenetrable. As I worked on the photos of the images I started to see them as ideas for the endpapers of a 1960s edition of the books. I was happy with the vintage look and I can see how this technique could be developed further; I find the Kick-About often does this and gives rise to ideas that could run and run.”


instagram.com/philcoops / hedgecrows.wordpress.com / phil-cooper.com


Marion Raper

As I love castles, I decided to do an illustration of my version of Gormenghast. I have never read any of Mervyn Peake’s books, but I do remember watching the Gormenghast series on TV a very long time ago, which left an impression on me – mainly because it was so depressing!  I have since found out that Peake was one of the first civilians to enter the German concentration camp of Belsen as a war artist.  No wonder his art and literature was affected by this from then on. I used some of my marbled paper I have produced, as a background, and my artwork was based on Thirlstone Castle on the Scottish Borders. It was built in 1590, has wonderful gothic towers and is still a family home today.



Colin Bean

“It’s been a long time since I read the Titus Trilogy but forever memorable. I played with the idea of using one of his rich texts but I felt that wasn’t quite ‘it’, so scribbled out an attempt to invent some additional personages. I am no writer but embarked on some descriptions which simply grew into the text/narrative here. It did not take long to write, though I type badly and with dodgy eyesight and there may well be a myriad of typos for which I apologise, but hope they won’t irritate.



The three drawings are of the envisaged household set as a triptych (like some Japanese wood block prints). Fineliners, watercolour pencils, calligraphic ink, and a little gold acrylic was used on standard copy paper. Cheap, it is but not always kind to media. Once I had established the characters I spent a time juggling and balancing the elements. which took a fair amount of scanning/copying/tracing. Working on this prompt I found myself back doing ‘Fashion Design’ at art school and working in the industry.



Phil Gomm

“With Mervyn Peake’s drawings laying down the gauntlet, I decided to attempt some character drawings of my own, as inspired by the trio of villains in my own work of fantastic fiction, Chimera. I don’t really draw, or identify as someone who does, but this bloody Kick-About business keeps prompting me to make exceptions to this and have a go. In common with my approach to these self-portraits, I kept drawing and re-drawing onto the same bits of paper, using the eraser as much as anything else to understand what was working and what wasn’t. I’d say the final illustrations were not so much ‘drawn’ as materialised out of a succession of mistakes, but anyway here they are: the Berserker, the Tealeaf, and Madame Chartreuse, and for your listening pleasure, a short extract from the Chimera audio book, in which the Oblivion Three first make their proper appearance…”


philgomm.com


Gary Thorne

“M Peake has opened the door to caricatures, and caricatures of friends spin-off in their own direction: Sue’s tennis racket shaped wind turbine propelling her seaside beach hut antics; and the bearded Wojtek’s keen obsession with pruning in inappropriate footwear. Another enjoyable KA up-cycling project which made time fly…”     



linkedin.com/in/gary-thorne


Kerfe Roig

“Mervyn Peake’s drawings, especially the ones with writing on the page, reminded me of another series I did at the beginning of my blogging life that I called “In the News”. I would draw a photo from the day’s newspaper and write a haiku-like poem to accompany it. I think it fell by the wayside during one of my many moves, but Peake inspired me to revive it.”


Karen 1
What’s in any name?
The face is warm, kind, thoughtful–
yes, overflowing

“I saw this woman’s face in the obituaries and was immediately drawn to its warmth. The name Karen has become associated negatively with an entitled white woman, but each individual brings their own aura to the name they have been given. This is a woman I would have liked to know.”


First Responders
nightmares afterward–
random things collapsing–go
on, but remember

“On the first anniversary of the Surfside apartment collapse in Florida, the Times interviewed relatives, survivors, and first responders. The words of my poem are taken from the interview with these three police officers who were among the first on the scene.”


Anna
Guilty of Nothing–
who can say that? are you not
also a human?

“Anna Netrebko is an international star in the opera world. A friend of Putin’s, she has refused to criticize him, although she says she does not support the war. As a result she has been banned from performing in many places. Her defiant words, “I am guilty of nothing!” made me think both about innocence as a concept, and how and if we should separate the lives of artists from the work that they do.”


Phatima
to be who I am–
to celebrate myself, free
both inside and out

“The Times featured a book put together by Harry James Hanson and Devin Atherus that profiles older drag performers. They saw it as a way to honor “queer elders” who were not included in the popular culture celebration of youthful drag. Phatima Rude was another person whose face attracted me with its warmth and sparkle.”


Paolo
body expression–
style in both movement and ink–
each its own story

“Paolo Banchereo was the Number One pick in the NBA draft this year. He is well known not only for his stellar play, but for the story his body tells with its many tattoos.”

kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


And for our next creative challenge, a sumptuous hit of famously saturated colour. Dessert anyone?



Phil Cooper / Painting Chimera #16

Phil CooperPneumo, acrylics on paper, 40 x 40 cm

“‘Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,’ the flamingo announced quite suddenly.”

Chimera Book 1 / Chapter 20 – The Flamingo & The Dummy


“In the previous chapter we were immersed in scenes of devastation and horror, but things take a surprising turn in Chapter 20. We encounter a couple of the strangest characters in the book and we’re treated to some of the worst jokes ever heard. It’s quite a contrast! As many of the scenes in Chimera have been quite dark in many respects, I’ve taken the opportunity to illustrate something lighter in tone. It’s not often I get the chance to paint a blow-up flamingo, and I wasn’t going to let the chance pass me by. There’s a tube of bubblegum-pink that’s been gathering dust in my paintbox for years, but it’s time has come!” Phil Cooper, Spring 2022


Phil Cooper’s Pneumo painting on his art table in his Berlin studio, Spring 2022




Chimera Book 1 / Chapter 20 – The Flamingo & The Dummy


It’s here, the penultimate episode of Chimera Book 1! I anticipate anyone who has listened to the last 19 chapters may be in urgent need of a recap. For others unfamiliar with my continuing collaboration with Dan Snelgrove to turn the first of my children’s adventures into an audio book, it might be a case of ‘Chimera what now?!’ Short version is Dan and I embarked on this project all the way back in October 2020, and with but one more episode to produce to complete Kyp Finnegan’s first adventure in the strange and dangerous realm of lost properties, we’re nearly there! If you go here, you can begin at the beginning, and if you go here, you can catch up on the events of the last chapter; and for a quick recap of the final moments of Chapter 19, see below.


Last time in Chimera Book 1:

After sneaking through streets piled high with detritums, Sir Regulus led Kyp and Jamie to a large crossroads.

‘This is where we must part company too,’ he said. ‘Beyond the city’s borders lie the swamps of Rising Damp. After the swamps lie the Badlands. Jamie and I will follow the route of the Cavalcade.’

Be careful,’ said Kyp, glancing around nervously.

You too.’

‘Don’t do it, Kyp,’ said Jamie. He sounded helpless, even angry. ‘Please, Kyp. I don’t want you putting yourself in danger for me. It’s not right.’

‘Are you quite sure about this, Kyp?’ asked Sir Regulus. ‘Going on alone?’

Kyp looked at them both. He didn’t feel afraid. He didn’t feel anything much. He thought about his mum and dad. He reminded himself they were gone. He thought about Sprat. She was gone too. He thought about Atticus, who was dead.

‘I’m fine,’ he said, and then it was time to say goodbye.

Chapter 20 – The Flamingo & The Dummy

Listen to all previous chapters at anchor.fm/chimerabook1

Coming soon to Red’s Kingdom, the final instalment of Chimera Book 1: Chapter 21 – The Sin King



Phil Cooper / Painting Chimera #15

Phil CooperThe Ruined Temple, acrylics on paper, 40 x 40 cm

“The temple was gone, its gleaming structure of glass reduced to jagged shards.”

Chimera Book 1 / Chapter 19 – Thingopolis Under Attack!


“After the more reflective mood and quiet menace in the previous instalment, things couldn’t be more different in chapter 19, as Kyp and pals emerge into a scene of carnage and destruction. It’s been a strange exercise this week, smashing up the Temple of Miscellany I constructed earlier in the book. But there’s not much time to dwell on all the mayhem; our characters have important decision to make, and they need to move fast!”  Phil Cooper, August 2021


Phil Cooper’s The Ruined Temple painting on his art table in his Berlin studio, August 2021




Chimera Book 1 / Chapter 19 – Thingopolis Under Attack!


Good things come to those who wait… and I’m very happy to announce the latest chapter of Chimera Book 1 is here! With only two more instalments to go, Kyp’s adventures in the fantastical realm of lost properties continue apace. Huge thanks, as always, to Dan Snelgrove for finding the time, energy and vocal dexterity to bring another chapter so fulsomely to life – enjoy! It’s been a while, so you maybe in need of a refresher: you can listen again to Chapter 18 here.


Last time in Chimera Book 1:

Kyp and Jamie approached and placed their palms lightly on Circinus’s mane.  

She closed her eyes and began again to talk.

Whirlitzer and I tried to live happily in Thingopolis.  We tried to make a home for ourselves.  We struggled to embrace our new lives here. We missed the children, the embrace of their arms about our necks as we spun them in circles. We grieved for our purpose. One day, Whirlitzer and I galloped far from the safety of the city. Neither of us admitted our intention.  Madame Chartreuse put us to work dragging the Tealeaf’s fodder-wagons.  We were so ashamed.’

As if unable to bear the weight of their fingers, Circinus shook her mane, forcing Kyp and Jamie to withdraw.

‘We slipped our harnesses while the Tealeaf slept. We gave ourselves up to the Oligarchy.  Whirlitzer had prepared a speech to be heard at our trial.  He planned to implore them to take steps against Madame Chartreuse.  He believed with the Oblivion Three vanquished, we might come to value this world as our own, seeing it as a place in which to belong contentedly, a world of which we could be proud.  They sentenced us immediately without petition or plea.  Sir Regulus saved us.  He brought us to Flotsam Pothole, took care of us.  We quickly became inseparable.  We made plans, devised strategies.  We would tell each other stories from our pasts, drawing strength from our memories. We vowed we would make Chimera a safe place.  We could never again return to the Elsewhere World, but we would ensure others could without fear or injury.’

‘We decided to leave Flotsam Pothole,’ continued Sir Regulus, ‘to escape Oddznbodz.  We made it as far as the tunnels, then the shovelisks attacked. It all happened so fast.’  Sir Regulus was talking directly to Circinus now. ‘I tried to get you out. I tried to open its jaws.  It took my arm.’ 

I’m so sorry,’ said Circinus.

I’m the one who should be apologising! I could have tried harder, thought of something, done something. When Whirlitzer saw you were gone, he tried giving himself to the shovelisk too. He said he couldn’t bear to be parted from you but I couldn’t let him.  Flotsam Pothole needed him, someone to inspire them.  Whirlitzer accused me of betraying him – and of killing you.  He swore no one else would ever be lost to the Abattoir.’

A siren sounded.

‘We have to get you out of there,’ Sir Regulus told Circinus, pulling away the sheets of metal covering her. 

‘I can’t leave,’ she said.

Of course you can,’ said Bertram. ‘We’ll all help.’ 

‘Yes,’ agreed Kyp, dragging more of the corrugated sheets to the floor. 

‘You don’t understand.  I can’t leave,’ and now Kyp, and everyone else, saw why.

The hindquarters of the carousel horse were gone.

Chapter 19 – Thingopolis Under Attack!

Listen to all previous chapters at anchor.fm/chimerabook1

Coming Soon to Red’s Kingdom: Chapter 20 – The Flamingo & The Dummy



Phil Cooper / Painting Chimera #14

Phil CooperInside The Auxillary acrylics on paper, 40 x 40 cm

After much squeezing through vents, climbing over pallets and navigating chambers filled with pulleys, chains and butchers’ hooks, they arrived in an emptier space dominated by a large u-shape of narrow railway track.

Chimera Book 1 / Chapter 18 – The Other Carousel Horse


“After Kyp manages to escape the full-on horror show of the Dismantlers, there’s a definite change of atmosphere as we emerge into Chapter 18; it’s more subdued, quieter, but still bristling with menace. I’ve tried to depict this sense of threat with an empty warehouse space, full of shadows and places for enemies to hide, adorned with chains and hooks, and with a labyrinth of interconnected passages to get lost in, or trapped. Aesthetically, the interior of the warehouse is pure 1920’s Fritz Lang, as the frenzied expressionism of those film sets perfectly conveys the brittle tension in this chapter. Against this backdrop, important conversations are had, before another horrible reveal in the final line of the chapter. Whatever’s coming in Chapter 19, I’m guessing it’s not good news!”

Phil Cooper, April 2021


Phil Cooper’s Inside The Auxillary painting on his art table in his Berlin studio, April 2021




Chimera Book 1 / Chapter 18 – The Other Carousel Horse


Dan Snelgrove and I rather left things dangling on a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of Chapter 17, what with Kyp, Jamie, Bertram Fusby and Sir Regulus Ferric hurtling towards certain doom… so it’s with great pleasure I can announce the arrival of the next thrilling instalment of Chimera Book 1 – brought to you, as ever, courtesy of Dan’s vocal pyrotechnics. Enjoy!


Last time in Chimera Book 1:

The dismantler holding Kyp now targeted Bertram. With a hiss of pistons, it swung about, before descending speedily towards the skateboarding pig.  It discarded Kyp, who dropped from its open claw and fell heavily onto the conveyor belt. Jamie pulled him to his feet and shouted at him to keep moving. They ducked, rolled and dived their way past drill-bits, scythes and wrecking balls as more dismantlers sprang up to converge on Bertram.  

Bertram was enjoying himself. He out-smarted the machines, performing daring jumps and complicated stunts.  In their confusion, the dismantlers attacked each other, the hammer of one smashing the drill of another. More dismantlers clashed, their claws, hooks and hydraulics entangled. A chainsaw sliced through the arm of the dismantler wielding the circular saw.  Now severed, the whirling disc decapitated machines on both sides of the conveyor.  The fallen dismantlers collapsed into the pits below.  Pillars of flame erupted.  Rivets fell like hailstones.  Kyp, Jamie and Sir Regulus drew together protectively as more of the dismantlers tore into each other and fell to ruin.  Bertram wheeled towards them out of the smoke.    

‘Wow!’ he said, as more explosions boomed.  He hopped off the skateboard.  ‘That was amazing!’

‘What were you thinking?’ yelled Sir Regulus. ‘You could have been killed!’

‘Bertram saved us, Sir Regulus,’ said Jamie.  

An explosion shook the conveyor, an entire section falling into the burning pits below.

‘We’re not out of danger yet,’ said Sir Regulus.

They ran to the very end of the conveyor belt, looking down to see a large metal basket positioned below it.  At their backs, fires burned more fiercely.  Sparks fizzed.  Smoke thickened.  Another explosion set the conveyor quaking.

‘What now?’ panicked Jamie.

‘Into the basket,’ ordered Sir Regulus. ‘Quickly.’ The four of them leapt from the conveyor into the basket. For a moment nothing happened, then, with a violent jolt and revving of machinery, the basket rocketed towards the chamber roof.

Chapter 18 – The Other Carousel Horse

Listen to all previous chapters at anchor.fm/chimerabook1

Coming Soon to Red’s Kingdom: Chapter 19 – Thingopolis Under Attack!


Phil Cooper / Painting Chimera #13

Phil CooperDismantler! acrylics on paper, 40 x 40 cm

“Kyp looked about for his friends; Sir Regulus remained on the conveyor belt, jumping backwards and forwards to avoid a dismantler’s hammer. Jamie was hanging upside down from a dismantler on the other side of the conveyor belt, a second mechanical claw taking hold of his arms and pulling him taut. A third dismantler took an interest, its circular saw slicing through the air towards him.”

Chimera Book 1 / Chapter 17 – The Dismantlers


“There are some very scary things in Chimera, but Chapter 17 takes us to a truly hellish place. Running the gauntlet of the dismantlers is something from our worst nightmares, and Kyp seems to be caught between various horrible ways to die. The idea of being taken apart taps into some very deep seated fears in most of us, I think, but the dismantlers don’t care, they only have one job – well several really; they drill, grind, wrench, saw, cut, burn….argh, I hope Kyp, Jamie and Sir Regulus get out of there!” Phil Cooper, February, 2021





Chimera Book 1 / Chapter 17 – The Dismantlers


And we’re back! It’s time to rejoin Kyp Finnegan, Jamie Bean and Sir Regulus Ferric in the fantastical and perilous realm of Chimera, the world of lost things. It’s been a wee while I know, so listen again to Chapter 16 to remind yourself of all the most recent daring do! Many thanks as always to Dan Snelgrove, for finding the time to continue this adventure with me and all the other denizens of Chimera.


Last time in Chimera Book 1:

Sir Regulus confronted the first shovelisk, drawing his sword. The creature’s eyes blazed, snorts of exhaust gusting from its nostrils.  It lunged, butting Sir Regulus in the chest with its head, knocking him flat.  With a triumphant roar, the shovelisk dragged itself towards Jamie and Kyp, its rubbery foot splintering wood and smashing china.  With an awful crushing sound, it flattened the body of Czar Samovar and then rolled over Sir Regulus.  The shovelisk was above the two boys now, who coughed inside a cloud of its breath. It sniffed them, opened its jaws – and then froze.  The shovelisk spasmed, before toppling sideways with a loud crash.  His sword dripping sticky black fluid, Sir Regulus stood up and rested his foot on the dead shovelisk’s neck

‘The old ‘sword in the belly’ manoeuvre!  I got Firemingus, the self same way!’

His jubilation was short-lived. The second shovelisk reared up behind Sir Regulus, snatched him off his feet, tossed him in the air and caught him in his mouth.  Its sights now fixed on Kyp and Jamie, the shovelisk snorted hungrily and scooped them up too. 

Chapter 17 – The Dismantlers

Listen to all previous chapters at anchor.fm/chimerabook1


Coming Soon to Red’s Kingdom: Chapter 18 – The Other Carousel Horse