Metrobolist 5. Blessed Boys and Girls

Last chapter of bookwork Metrobolist: Five Chapters. Like chapter 1 in the montage, chapter 5 is something of an exception. Of style rather than content in this instance.

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Hand-lettered and vispo'd throughout; chapter 5 takes the form of an "image comic". It takes cue from cartoonist Mike Weller's  characterisations of David Robert Jones 1961 - 2015.

In journey from secondary school to arts lab; an ageing south London observer -- call him Mick for the fiction -- watches an old friend achieve unimagined fame, fortune and an eternal place in the firmament of global iconography.

In Michael Weller's bookworks and spoken-word -- DB is depicted throughout his golden years as characters Ken Tapley (author's own singing fantasy figure), John Dagger (pulp fiction comic book 19th century anarchist rebel and 20th century rock star), Starman Jones (Commander of Cosmic Squad sci-fi) and Glitter Glamm (DB's immortal creation Ziggy Stardust as caricatured by Mick Weller).

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In the late 60s, and at the very beginning of the 1970s, David and Mike shared several 'artists union' collaborations, including the decision to share responsibilty for design of DB's third LP. Devised in home counties suburban Beckenham (later caricatured  as "Dedbrickton" by Weller) the North American-released album cover resulted in a failed compromise pleasing no-one.  

Intended experimental visual poetics were submitted by David himself. This collaborative work by Keith "Keef" MacMillan: and two other novice art professionals, inexperienced in dealing with powerful U.S. music industry game-players, was delivered to Mercury. The record company wrecked it.

For David, Metrobolist was the first and last time during a long and phenomenally successful career Jones lost control of the presentation of Bowie's music and image. 

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Metrobolist 4. On the Theme of Light and Dark (docu-track)

Chapter 4 opens with quotes from Hanif Kureishi's 1990 novel The Buddha of Suburbia and MJ Weller's 1995 (Social Reality Earthtime) fiction within a fiction The Man Who Drew Too Much.

Set in 1960-1962: this chapter tells the continuing story of Bromley Tech schoolboy creation Joseph Jacob Welles and his  author, the character Mike Weller. Weller is a misfit compared to his model pupil alter ego J.J. Welles. Dreamer Mike is unsuited to technical education whilst Welles excels in the school's vocational science and metalwork needed for future white heat world technology and industry. Illustrator Brian Grimwood and design consultant Aziz Cami succeed in applied art.

And like a classic British comic book schooldays story -- this fictionalized Tech is cast with good and evil characters: Teachers Hampton, Walker, Fairbanks, Sprickle, Choat; antisemitic playground bullies Pugh and Luggan; and of course heroic captains of winning teams in wider society and culture. Bromley Tech depicted here is an aboriginal BRIT School and Hogwarts combined. The school has stars in George Haywood and David Jones. And it is arts -- not technology -- that wins its alumni glittering prizes.

By the mid-1960s future writer-in-the making Karim Amir becomes a first year, joining celebrated older ex-pupils: singer & musician-turned-painter George Haywood; rock musician Chris Hampton -- son of lettering & layout master Oli Hampton; contemporary music composer Roderick Nibayrks; and legendary icon David Robert Jones aka Bowie.

Chapter 4 ends in modern 21st century Croydon with the Tech's scientist alumnus Joseph Jacob Welles an elderly man, wondering over fifty years later, whether it is he -- or his alter ego, elderly poet and cartoonist Mike Weller, who painted a picture for fine art master Clinton Walker's classwork topic 'On the Theme of Light and Dark'.

Did Welles make the character Weller up, or was it Weller who made up character avatar Welles? And which one of them won top marks in Mr Walker's art class with a painting entitled 'The Metrobolist', exhibited in the school's art block during 1961?

 

Metrobolist 3. A Young Englishman Abroad

Opening with a quote from Philip K. Dick's 1956 novel The World Jones Made and a mock wiki article on Mick Weller's fictional character Ken Tapley -- a fourteen-year old David Jones introduces himself to Michael Weller in this short narrative prose and poetry comic beginning 1961. The chapter closes with their 1969 reunion.

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Mike Weller's imagined Ken Tapley emerged from 1950s suburban bedroom scribbles. For two or three years before, Weller's fantasy sat among a tech schoolboy's comic-books, sci-fi pulps, 45 rpms, old New Musical Express papers, film, tv & radio fanzines, annuals, pin-up wank mags; Colin Wilson's The Outsider and Jean-Paul Sartre's 'Roads to Freedom' trilogy in paperback.

Eight years after their first meet-up at Bromley Tech's smokers' corner, Jones meets Michael Weller again at a 'folk lab' held in the back of the Three Tuns pub in Beckenham. David and Mick joke about making up a character named "Ken Tapley" for an 'artists union'.

Mike Weller had forgotten this fantasy -- deleting the character from his soft mind years before, yet still embedded in his hard brain. For In David Jones, since renamed Bowie: Michael Weller recognised Ken Tapley; a young Englishman abroad at Metrobolist.

Metrobolist 2. On the Theme of Light and Dark (Probability A)

Chapter 2 opens with a 2013 quote from The New York Review of Books.

Ian Buruma asks "So who is David Bowie?"

The chapter begins in summer 1957 when a modernist technical school building for boys is completed in Bromley's rural dormitory pocket of Keston, leaving its late Victorian fin de siĆ©cle designed technical institute in Beckenham Road with bas relief lettering of words SCIENCE, ART and TECHNICAL INSTITUTE ornamented onto the outside of the building itself. 

Joseph Jacob Welles starts his first year at the new Tech and the chapter ends in summer 1962 with Joe Welles planning to return for sixth form at the school. The school is real although names of most teachers and pupil-students of the time have been changed -- like characters in a series of dramatized 1950s schoolday plays. Not all names have been tweaked out of the real. Metrobolistic characters are not from some historical black and white children's television. Metrobolist is a colourful and entertaining parental advisory. A fiction tracking reality as documented probability. 

Here's a sample from end pages of Metrobolist 2.

One or two boys at the school were to have outstanding careers in years to come. Among them -- Roderick Nibayrks. In a very near future Roderick would move to Beckenham and Penge County Grammar School, becoming a celebrated composer of modern music. Bill Wyman was a grammar school alumnus after World war II but few had heard of the Rolling Stones in 1962. In the upper sixth at grammar, studying 'A' level English literature when Nibayrks first joined, was Marcus 'the Mint' Murray; later to become celebrated rock critic, Minty Murray.

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Metrobolist 1. Uncaught Fruit Flies on Walls and Windows

Mike Weller's Space Opera and the twenty-three tales making up Slow Fiction combine to make mySpaceOpera.

Metrobolist's five chapters may be read and viewed as overture to print/digital bookwork object mySpaceOpera.

Metrobolist: Five chapters may also be read as standalone tales with time sequence 1946-1971 driving narrative.

Metrobolist 1 is an exception, in as much as it introduces the character Weller (Welles) with multiple and playful character identities, defined through a processing typo of words 'phonemic' and 'phenomic'. Metrobolist opens with a stanza from Andrew Marvell's 17th century poem The Definition of Love and closes with a visual montage of found flyers promoting the psychic services of a south London-based African medicine man with an array of multiple personality/playful character identities (eg., Professor Baraka, Mr David, Mr Nanah) that may also be fictional.

Treating typos (i.e., 'phenome') corrections and text addena in pencil, biro, ink, as annotation, brings a visual (typo-graphic) aspect to page units making up story. 

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Hand-writing, drawings, cartoon-strips, old typescripts, treated text and design roughs are collaged into page unit panels -- something British poets Chris McCabe and Chrissy Williams (contributor to North American-based Ink Brick journal of comics poetry) have introduced through a 2015 public Saison Poetry Library exhibition of varied vispo works at London's Southbank as "poetry comics".