Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Our Favortite heroes: Jerry, Luther and Gideon.

"Lord of the time-streams, master of the multiverse, androgynous, bisexual, well-dressed, gun-toting, drug-taking, fast car-driving arsonist, rock star, nuclear physicist and assassin"

Moorcock (left) with Jerry (actor Jon Finch) from "The Final Programme"
"Jerry Cornelius is a fictional secret agent and adventurer created by science fiction / fantasy author Michael Moorcock. He is a kind of hip secret agent of ambiguous and occasionally polymorphous sexuality; the same characters featured in each of several Cornelius books, though the individual books had little connection with one another, having a more metafictional than causal relationship to one another.

The first Jerry Cornelius book,The Final Programme was made into a feature film starring Jon Finch and Jenny Runacre.The series draws plot elements from Moorcock's Elric series, as well as the Commedia dell'arte. Moorcock hints in many places that Cornelius may be an aspect of the Eternal Champion. The name Jerry Cornelius and its variants appear at least four times (Jerry Cornell, Jherek Carnelian and the anagrammatic Corum Jhaelen Irsei). The location of Notting Hill in London also features prominently.
Moorcock encouraged other authors and artists to create works about Jerry Cornelius, in a sort of early open source attempt at open brand sharing. One example is Norman Spinrad's The Last Hurrah of the Golden Horde; another is Mœbius's The Airtight Garage. The Nature of the Catastrophe, a collection of Jerry Cornelius stories and comic strips which had appeared in the International Times (with art by Mal Dean) by various hands, was published in 1971. It includes works by Moorcock himself, James Sallis, Brian Aldiss, Langdon Jones, M. John Harrison, Richard Glyn Jones, Alex Krislov and Maxim Jakubowski.

Jerry (left) and Major Grubert in Mœbius's The Airtight Garage

Bad Voltage
, an 80s cyberpunk novel by Jonathan Littell that also dealt with themes of bisexuality and violence, features guest appearances by a decidedly has-been Jerry Cornelius and a substance-abusing 'Shaky' Mo Collier.

Luther Arkwright

In comics various writers have used elements of the character, most notably Bryan Talbot's character Luther Arkwright.(above) The story is adult in tone, with many mythological, historical and political references, and a little explicit sex. Its genesis owes something to the influence of Michael Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius stories, though Moorcock and Talbot agree that the similarities between the characters are limited. Warren Ellis calls Arkwright "probably the single most influential graphic novel to have come out of Britain to date... probably Anglophone comics' single most important experimental work."

In 1999 Dark Horse published Talbot's sequel to Luther Arkwright, which was called Heart of Empire.

In 2005 the artwork was digitally remastered by Comics Centrum for an edition in Czech (Dobrodružství Luther Arkwrighta), allowing proper reproduction of both light and dark parts of "tonal" pages. The new artwork was also used for a French edition by Kymera Comics. Bryan Talbot has described the Czech edition as "the best ever published". In 2006 it was republished as a webcomic using the digitally remastered files at the official fanpage at The Adventures of Luther Arkwright

Other Jerry Cornelius comic inspirations are Image publishings Matt Fraction's Casanova series. Tony Lee's Midnight Kiss actually features Cornelius. Grant Morrison created an Oscar Wilde-inspired steampunk version of Jerry Cornelius in Sebastian O, the original Vertigo mini-series. Another Morrison character, Gideon Stargrave, is one of the few interpretations of the character that Moorcock strangely has issues with, as he considers the character little more than a straight lift of Cornelius:

"I find a difference between an homage, an amplification and a straight lift. Lifting is usually done by artists in comics. Alan Moore, Bryan Talbot and others have done riffs on Cornelius which have added to the method -- extended what can be done with the character and technique, if you like. Morrison doesn't have the talent to do that, though he's probably seen the others doing it and thinks that he's doing the same thing. In my view he isn't. I wasn't ready to sue Morrison but I was extremely pissed off with DC for running it. Only after his most blatant rips had appeared did someone at DC read the originals and realise to what degree he had stolen the material"
Sour grapes from Moorcock?..Its ironic as (in our opinion of course) Morrison's does Cornelius better than Moorcock does Cornelius-wich is ironic as Morrison states that Stargrave was in fact inspired by J. G. Ballard's The Day of Forever.

Morrison's Gideon Stargrave

"The character appeared in issues 3-4 of Near Myths in stories written and also drawn by Morrison, before that title was cancelled (Morrison also wrote and drew stories in issues 2 and 5, but they did not contain Stargrave). He made a brief appearance in Food for Thought (a British benefit comic to aid Ethiopian famine relief ) in 1985.

The character next made an appearance in Morrison's The Invisibles as an alter-ego of King Mob, one of that title's main characters. In this incarnation, Stargrave is used by King Mob to confuse his enemies during interrogation. Gideon is a '70s spy modelled after James Bond and Jason King who spends every scene he appears in seducing his partner, and is supposedly the main character of King Mob's works as an author. In this sequence, we see not only the actual Stargrave story but King Mob's cover identity (or probable real world identity) as Gideon Starorzewski, who produces his work under the pen name Kirk Morrison.
This ties the real creator (Grant Morrison) in with his various fictional creations (Gideon Stargrave and King Mob/Gideon Starorzewski/Kirk Morrison) and bringing together the various creations together in a metafictional conceit. Much of the premise of The Invisibles involves the philosophy that language is a perfectly acceptable method of creation so the notion that Gideon Stargrave is a fictional character does not preclude him being also a real person."


Ascula said...


Jimmy said...

A wonderful blog post, I happened upon it tonight when I was researching details about the Final Programme movie for my own blog.