Wednesday 6 June 2007

"Kiss my backside." (wrote Mozart.)

The confluffle over cartoonist Bill Leak's appropriation of Tintin in his caricature of Australian politico Kevin Rudd has been resolved.
The Australian, Jun 04, By Peter Wilson in Brussels:
THE Belgian firm that owns the copyright on Tintin has conceded Bill Leak is free to portray Labor leader Kevin Rudd as the cartoon character
in The Australian, but says he cannot "commercialise" the image by selling copies to the public. Leak last night responded to Moulinsart's latest statement saying: "I'm not a lawyer, I'm a cartoonist. I poke fun at people for a living. I'm sure Herge would have approved".

The incident has reminded me of one of my favourite CDs. It's Mozart Unexpurgated, an Australian recording by The Song Company on the Tall Poppies label, 1991, with a cover by the same cartoonist showing Mozart sitting on the dunny with his breeches around his ankles, while scrawling on the wall. The disc gathers together all of Mozart's rude songs, and other songs in no way rude, which he composed for singing among his friends and family. They are translated to English and fit the tone of his letters, which are delightfully peppered with scatalogical nonsense (well served by Spaethling's recent translation).
The disc opens with these lines in gorgeous six-part haromony:
Kiss my backside
Goethe said it in his drama,
second act, you know the scene quite well!
Here's a catchy commentary,
Mozart now is literary!

And the words crap, fuck, fart and shit all put in appearance. It's all beautifully musical of course, and the 12 part harmony of "V'amo di core teneramente" (nothing rude in this one) never fails to reduce me to tears of joy even though it is only 1.12 minutes long.

glossary: The phrase 'tall poppies' is worth a word of explanation: "The tall-poppy syndrome refers to the behavioural trait of Australians to cut down those who are 'superior' to them. It is used to explain why most politicians, some academics, and the occasional millionaire, command a level of community admiration inferior to that of a toilet cleaner."
I and the boon companion of my self publishing years, Pete Mullins, once conceived a chronically self-defeating character whom we named 'the small poppy', and we went so far as to draw a few sketches. But we dropped the idea on the grounds that the greater part of our market, the USa, would probably not 'get' the phrase, and furthermore that from the way we'd drawn it, the person it was based upon would more than likely recognize himself.
'dunny' is self explanatory, but I'm amused to see it has a Wikipedia entry.
Allan Holtz has some grand old Los Angeles political cartoons from 1906 by George Herriman, after finding a microfilm stash at his library. I expect there will be a few who will complain that they don't mean anything if you don't know about the parties being ridiculed, but I always find that those complaints come from folk who also need today's paper explained to them. The art of political cartooning has been using the same kinds of meatphors for centuries. The appeal is seeing the variations, and the additions. Did you need to know who Kevin Rudd is, or who Bill Leak is to enjoy the snippet of the Tintin story above? Politicos are much the same then and now, here and there and if you can get a good batch of stuff from a period, the players become almost like fictional characters whose exploits you can follow from page to page. And if you look long enough and have an enquiring mind, you end up learning something about some obscure corner of history. I've put my name down in in the comments box to encourage him to show as many of these as he can lay his hands on.
Let unexpurgated be our word of the day!
Jack Kerouac: On the Road. It's the fiftieth anniversary of its publication in October!
Penguin Classics: To celebrate this seminal novel, we’re bringing out an exquisite hardback edition of the UNCENSORED MANUSCRIPT, unexpurgated, and that means with all of the sex and drug references that were considered too explicit at the original publication. We’re publishing it as the original 'scroll'.
surely not actually literally?
(link via michael Evans)
Leif peng has life story of now-obscure artist Fletcher Martin (1904-79)
Just in. Australian site, Stagenoise: their 30th podcast focusses on the "Graphic novel". A good half hour interview with Campbell. This has come out all right. I explain a few things quite lucidly. In fact, I only half recall doing this interview, perhaps because I didn't say anything stupid, and when the interviewer emailed this morning to say it was up I was taken by surprise. Then Shaun Tan, author of the superb The Arrival, follows me.
The Black Diamond Detective Agency should be in Specialist comic book stores TODAY!!
update: mr j in comments below directs you to a
gallery of the offending Bleak cartoons at the Australian.

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Blogger Kelly Kilmer said...

Thanks Eddie for posting the Fletcher Martin link (I love that blog) and for the news on On The Road.
Off to find that Mozart CD and tomorrow will hit the local comic shop, Meltdown, to find your book!

6 June 2007 at 00:20:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

i'm a bad influence


6 June 2007 at 00:27:00 GMT-5  
Blogger mrjslack said...

You can check out a bunch of Bill Leaks stuff online at -,,20581,00.html
The boxing sequence is particularly brilliant.

There's also a nice article on hi at-

A national treasure.

6 June 2007 at 01:46:00 GMT-5  
Blogger spacedlaw said...

I am SO glad that you are a bad influence, Eddie. We need more of your type.
*off to find that Mozart CD as well*

6 June 2007 at 08:00:00 GMT-5  
Blogger keepsakes said...

love your books, love your blog
thought you might like to read this if you haven't already done so:

6 June 2007 at 12:23:00 GMT-5  
Blogger James Robert Smith said...

I vaguely had read some stuff about Mozart's scatological jokes inserted into letters. I didn't know the stuff was collected and published.

The Kerouac ON THE ROAD scroll was actually on tour here in the States. Not sure if it still is, or where it is. I'd always heard that some of the rougher stuff had been excised, including some homosexual scenes.

For some reason, I never could "get" Kerouac until I was well into my 40s. And then I was absorbed with his work in a big way.

6 June 2007 at 17:40:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of scurrilous appropriation, Wally Wood's notorious Disneyland Memorial Orgy is now online at the Realist Archive Project:

7 June 2007 at 07:47:00 GMT-5  

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