I discovered The Legendary Pink Dots through The Residents. An obscure Youtube artist going under the moniker of therezident (now renamed Virgil Pink) had been producing his own videos for Residents songs. Sometimes these videos would be cobbled together from cheap DV footage and google image search results, as in ‘Life Would Be Wonderful‘ and other times, in the case of ‘Dreaming of an Anthill‘, they would display remarkably accomplished sand animation reminiscent of German Expressionism and the inky grotesqueries of comic book artist Charles Burns. This slapdash approach that sometimes yielded moments of astonishing beauty seemed like a perfect fit for The Residents and I was thrilled by therezident’s ability to forge intuitive connections between found footage and the band’s music in the most seemingly unlikely of places. Having watched a bulk of videos based upon music by The Residents, I decided to investigate artists also represented on the channel. The Third Eye Foundation and Current 93 cropped up, but so did The Legendary Pink Dots and their lead singer named Edward Ka-Spel, both unknown to me. I was intrigued by the band’s inscrutable and, I felt, irritatingly portentous name. How could something as abstract as pink dots be legendary – and, moreover, wasn’t the name itself somewhat eye-rollingly self-promoting? I listened to a track. I believe it was ‘Of All The Girls‘. The video was underwhelming, but I found the music compelling. It was droning but propulsive and slightly nauseating; more threatening than The Residents. While the Residents at their best walk a indeterminate path between earnestness and sincerity, balancing unsettling melodies with daffy vocal deliveries, or vice versa, I sensed little of that playfulness in ‘Of All The Girls’. There were few concessions being made to the listener. One could easily have imagined that the composer (this Edward Ka-Spel) had produced the track for his own private enjoyment. I did not feel immediately invited into the world of The Legendary Pink Dots, but insidiously (because it was some weeks before I returned to their music) the music wormed its way into my brain until I felt all the more stubborn to discover more. Continue reading
Cover of Skin Deep
When I was young, my dad and I were both huge fans of MTV’s Liquid TV. Actually, that’s not quite true — we still are, it’s just not on anymore. Until they finally release it on DVD, we’ll be happy to make due with the burns of it I downloaded from torrents. The great thing with Liquid TV is the way it turned me on to a lot of great artists; that was where I saw the work of Richard Sala for the first time, and it introduced me, in a sideways way to Charles Burns – though that’d be solidified with the documentary Comic Book Confidential which included a narrated Big Baby strip.
David Hadju’s new book is about the history of censorship of comics, from the initial appearance of newspaper strips to the creation of the Comics Code in 1954 (and the fallout coming shortly after). Looking at the original strips (and the pulp novels before that), the distrust of media designed for the public at large has always been around, though the comics seemed to get the brunt of that, both at the hands of local governments and other small-town tyrants burning books and, ultimately, themselves — as the Comics Code Authority was an organization founded by many of the publishers to self-regulate.