What the first version of Alec looked like.
It looked just like that. I thought it was lost forever. Then Hayley Campbell called to say she was rummaging around in my parents loft up in the north of England and she'd found this object (among many other wondrous objects) which she described to me. A Daily Mirror racing diary from 1979, with so many loose pages and napkins and beermats and tickets for this and that all inscribed with tiny narratives and stapled into it until the thing had taken on an almost cylindrical shape. It could onty be one thing. Thus it was that it arrived in the package from Hayley Campbell previously mentioned on this blog on jan 11.
I had carried it around in my coat pocket at first until I realised it wasn't going to be big enough to record the epic I wanted to put in it. So I'd write on whatever paper was to hand and then staple it in when I got home, sometimes three or four sheets of typing paper inscribed on two sides in tiny lettering. All of it recording everything I'd seen and heard and done that I thought was worth recording. I haven't read any of the contents yet, for fear I won't like myself when I was twenty three, or worse , that I'll find I've lost it all in the interim.
This object, containing my daily ramblings and observations through '79 and the beginning of '80 was the source of my first actual book, Alec:The King Canute Crowd, which was published in three parts in '84, '85, '86, and then collected with an unpublished fourth part in a big book from Acme/Eclipse in 1990. I put out a new edition on my own imprint in 2000, which is still available from Top Shelf. Today however, is a day for celebration as I have just recieved a handful of copies of the first French edition, from Ca et La. This is the first time the art has been reproduced digitally, believe it or not, and that involved quite a bit of hard graft to get it all to work, what with all those dot patterns. Here is the very first version side by side with the very latest.
While I was talking to Hayley Campbell I said, "And while you're up in the attic, if, among the wondrous objects, you find my painting of Anne in the nude, can you secure it in some way so that nobody else finds it. Okay, Hales, I'll talk to you again soon, and thanks for roning."