I usually read accompanied by the sound of good music. I almost always choose between a touch of jazz by the master Chet Baker or I lazily listen to the Stabat Mater of Dvořák. After all they are the CDs that are almost stapled to my old CD player. These musical choices did not work with Blue Sparkles by Sissy Pantelis. So, I read the book without sound and then in the second passage through the final lap – kaaapooooom, I chose Wrath of the Lich King (OST) for a new reading – magic!
… odd thoughts …
In the two spreads in which the prince ventures with his mother the rags of the fog create an atmosphere of perfect melancholy – secrecy.
The prince’s mount, “a bird” has brought memories of World of Warcraft. How can I ever forget the gryphons of the Alliance!
After the talk with Feather-Horn we have three spreads with so many, but so many details – delicious – that they alone raise the bar of what can be expected. Is the step bigger than the leg? No, it was not.
Throughout the book one can discover immense references to works of fantasy, just throw the cards and be very careful with the queen of hearts.
We have Firework Dancers, Pixies and even an owl piper. Ah! And Swan Knights… So much visual detail that each spread should be read-seen-seen-read repeatedly (loop-on mode) so that nothing gets lost – okay?
I do not know how the collaboration between the artist and the writer was; maybe healthily sick? Watch the first panel of the story; in the anguish of the mushrooms; how much they suffer from the fiddly music of the frogs – brilliant!
Individualized balloons that make the characters’ voices different.
The moon red spread is abysmal.
Blue Sparkles is a musical book. Mysterious. A kaleidoscope of text, image and sound. Venetian masks, apple, shoe, Hansel, snow, red hood, crows – explosion. TAM. TAM. TAM.
If I already loved Sissy, the inclusion of crows was a tasty “Nevermooorrre” that made me smile with my mouth open. Dear Poe.
TAM. TAM. TAM. And the drums come to life and set the pace. TAM. TAM. TAM, in the background. Here I go to the end of a love story … Will a good story have an unfortunate end? End. Beginning. Perfidia. Mistake. Con. End of the nightmare, perhaps? Intermezzo and opening of a new chapter with a rainbow that reminds me of the Bifrost bridge, but without the presence of the mighty Heimdall.
TAM. TAM. TAM. Books inside a book and we have a wonderful library, naturally full with books, but equally filled with the tree of knowledge and a cat and a rabbit, too – Alice where are you?
A book that I read quickly, but that should be slowly tasted as a dream of a summer night, right brother Oberon?
Here are my loose and incoherent thoughts. I can do much more with a story full of changes, turns, with the introduction of details and more details and more characters around the corner.
Blue Sparkles with texts by Sissy Pantelis and drawings by Vurore is a mesmerizing book. As hypnotizing as that brown butterfly that flies through the book spying the unfolding of the story
“Are beauty and love not the most powerful magic?” – yes and also good books.
This opinion will not have an order, rather an orderly disorder.
Let’s see …
It’s not easy to make an acceptable “society” using animals that behave like humans. But the society of anthropomorphized animals created in Red Nightmare, by the perfect choice of species is an excellent “mirror” society. I can identify, in the facial expressions of animals/characters, the savagery, love, hatred, fatigue, perfidy, wisdom, fear, courage, revolt… The detail of the hyenas, the rabbit ghetto – perfect.
Danilo Antoniucci with a sturdy and musical trace created credible characters who transpired the good and the bad of humanity. If I have to choose a favorite character I point the finger at Night Wanderer: it’s the touch of humor in the story, the element that breaks the tension; the character that we envy for the freedom with which he flies for adventure.
Visually, Red Nightmare is a crazy, fun, colorful – wonderful trip.
The pages where the transition from the real world(?) to the dream world(?) occurs, are very well achieved – excellent color work.
The initial page is delicious: a towering castle, guards with an evil grin, a mother that wards off a child and the soliloquy of an anonymous actor deepens the text of the caption and so… the magic begins.
First, flip through the pages and see the images …
Second, read the text and see the images …
Third, read the pictures and see the text …
Reverse this order and mix everything up …
The text begins, from the very start, by embracing the images and soon on the fifth page we have the words ‘I can only help you see the future through me’ which will make the story take a magical leap into another more magical world – magic within magic, story within story; rabbit inside the magician’s hat. Text, image, special effects – kaboom!
Another kaboom and pause. Shock, surprise. Wow, what now?
And the words of Sissy Pantelis go along with the images and the images go along with the words without competition, in union. And the two elements well combined, oiled, offer the reader astonishment, pain, suspense, confusion …
‘CRI CRI CRI’ is fear to one and a surprise to the reader. ‘That’s … not good!’ is said – but it’s good, it’s, very good.
We have pages without text in which Sissy Pantelis boldly lets Danilo Antoniucci write with images; a wonderful writer who writes words in the silence of expressions, in the silence of moments. The reader is invited to think for himself, is gently pushed there, there, beyond.
And the story hurries, runs very fast and even flies (new inclusion of a story in the story – a bit of homage to another story, perhaps Peter, maybe Pan – I do not know!)
And when the artist and the writer finish without the consent of the reader, but with meaning, the story, I say:
You have got to be joking – it’s over?! How? And I begin to leaf through the book until, without any other solution, I place it there beside me on the shelf.
Armand Sillègue and Henri d’Aramitz left behind the Hotel Chez le Pacha. They walked unhurriedly towards the Draa River. In each step they felt the throbbing desert presence and even the M’Hamid Mosque displayed a unique melancholy silence. The atmosphere of M’Hamid El Ghizlane was impregnated with an indescribable glow – poetry. This night promised to be even more special. The day before they had heard the aromatic music of Génération Taragalte; they had been enraptured, lying on the sand of the desert, idyllically stargazing, but they had felt, above all, how it is exhilarating to listen to the legends of the Sahara told around the campfire – a paradise on earth.
They stopped near a tree that guarded at its feet an Al Khayma. They led themselves in through the south entrance and sat next to the host, Isaac de Porthau, a Frenchman, captivated by the charms of the desert, who had invited them to a ‘night of magical discoveries!’
Sitting on a carpet composed of symmetrical geometric patterns, they inhaled, from a hookah, the aromatic tobacco smoke. The peach smell deodorized the environment. The eyes scrutinized the only object that dazzled, with an illogical gold inside the Al Khayma, a lamp.
The magical silence that could be felt was broken by Isaac de Porthau.
‘It is said that the tale of Aladdin was placed in One Thousand and One Nights by Antoine Galland to outwit the curious. Aladdin’s story is true and his magic lamp is this one that our eyes see.’
‘If that is so, why did you invite us?’ asked Henri d’Aramitz.
He took the dog on a leash, but it was the dog that guided him. The dog was old. The old man who accompanied him was much older. The only difference is that the dog was dragging on the ground two fat testicles and could defecate freely on the neighbor’s grass.
This story will be published in Le Scat Noir #217.
I began to write a story about lol but the story forced me to be more than what I wanted.
Sources of inspiration:
– Le Scat Noir #215 by Black Scat Books
– Waiting for Beckett by Jason E. Rolfe
– Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
lol was walking on the street Faubourg Saint-Honoré when he was attracted to a sign advertising a pixelated art auction. He went in and sat down. It was with amazement that he saw passing and passing, before his eyes, art in which the pixels were law and crime, order and chaos. Everything was taking place harmoniously when someone shouted an omg before the exhibit of the collection 404: a simple black pixel over white – the ultimate representation of minimalism or perhaps the true “ready made”; before being it already was. The truth is that lol, after hearing the release of those three simple letters, cackled a more than audible lol. He was discovered, pointed out and had no choice but to get himself a new skin.
Yesterday I lay down on the sofa – lights off – and an idea jumped to the paper because I don’t want to forget the idea: lights on.
Lights off. A few seconds later, I went to draw some more lines. Lights on. I ended up for half an hour jumping off the sofa to the notebook and from the notebook to the sofa. Lights on/off – what obsession.
It’s easier to close a drawer with a key and then put the key inside the drawer, is easier to discover the speed of darkness, than be able to make a review of a book written by Rhys Hughes. I will, however, undertake this task, but only because I live in Meridian 0°.
A way of increasing with success the number of words to a review is to add things that at first glance have nothing to do with the book but with the author. For example: who knew that Rhys Hughes in 2007 has used a bottle to send in Toledo a message to Safaa via the Tagus River? The fact that he now puts the love in a bottle means that he has a loving fixation for bottles?
bottled love story
chapter: The Story Begins with the Wave
In the first 16 pages of the book was difficult for me to find that I was reading a story of Rhys Hughes; but quickly I find the words of the villainous Rhys Hughes that even dares to enter as only he knows in the story, because? and I am forced to remind his own words:
As far as I am concerned there can only ever be two characters in a work of fiction — the author and the reader. The other “characters” are just words on a page and simply don’t exist.
The chapter “The Story Begins with the Wave” is writing in the cinematographic style. We have the narration of Amira’s  wanderings interspersed with the adventures of Rufus Anton ; at the end of the story the two characters find themselves together in a unconventional and nothing loving way – I should add.
In this chapter we have an Rhys Hughes equal to himself, irreverent, tortuous, with ideas and a structure narrative that reminds us of the inventive skills of Dr. Karl Mondaugen. We have a bottle, a chess problem (the first time I read a book with a chess problem was the “Flanders Panel” by Arturo Pérez-Reverte) and the possible existence of the sea monster Xaratan.
The story begins with the wave because
AMIRA wrote her name on the sand of the beach in big capitals and when the tide came in it washed away the last two letters first, so she was left with a question that just needed the addition of a question mark. “Am I?” she wondered. She knew she must find an answer (…)
The first answer
“Perhaps I am, perhaps not” (…)
A few lines later the author reveals an important characteristic of Amira for the unfolding of the story
Amira was curious about everything and this curiosity extended even to curiosity itself. What was curiosity? Why did it exist?
The second answer after reading the message discovery inside the green bottle send by Rufus Anton.
Not yet, not yet.
And so Amira turned and walked back the way she had come and to her great astonishment she found that the last two letters of her name written on the sand weren’t obliterated by the tide at all but had merely been detached from the others and had floated intact first out to sea and then back again.
Who’s Rufus, by the way? The author explains
(..) Rufus was one of those people who forget to worry about anything and he seemed to have an instinct that meant he always ended up where he ought to be, even if he didn’t recognise that final place for what it was when he got there.
And are the questions
“What is curiosity? Why does it exist?”
said by Dr Karl Mondaugen, “a mad scientist“, that continues to be what moves the story. It is, therefore, the curiosity that leads Amira to “the oldest part of the university” where “was a library full of strange books, one of which was a bestiary of imaginary animals that included an entry on the xaratan . But the xaratan, of course, isn’t imaginary.“
At this time we are introduced to another animal that’s a real myth the Hound-Do-You-Do; see a photo of the animal with Ryhs Hughes.
hound-do-you-do and rhys hughes
Rhys Hughes does not miss the opportunity to introduce himself in the story as only he knows
Although I am only the author of this story and not one of the characters in it, and thus must always stand outside rather than within whatever happens now or next, I am happy to state that I once met the Hound-Do-You Do on one of the rare occasions when I was drunk.
Amira reveals in the following words to be a woman with a strong character and that isn’t up to handle random daydreams – lucky us the readers. I started to like her even more.
Amira said, “This story belongs to the characters and you, the author, should really stay out of it.”
Throughout this chapter we have several verbal pearls; and this is why I love some much reading Rhys Hughes
(…) For example, when the concept of ‘repetition’ was invented it was hardly of any distinction until it was invented yet again, and it fulfils its function more wonderfully each time it is newly invented.”
“He was the Half Mate on the clipper ship Toe Scissors which sailed out of Nailcutta.” “You mean Calcutta,” corrected Karl. “Yes, I do, but that pun doesn’t work as well. (…)
They keep appearing many surprises but it’s on page 29 which is shown the greatest surprise: a “abandoned sea” chess game where
The cannonballs were pawns, the pistols were rooks, the suits of armour were knights, the tall hats were bishops, the sea-chests were kings and the cannon were queens and some pieces had been stained black and others white.
The chess problem that Amira will solve was created by Leonid Yarosh and it was “first published in March 1983 in the famous Russian chess magazine Shakhmaty v SSSR”  and “it is generally considered one of the greatest chess problems ever composed.” 
The words in this chapter continues to flow like the ocean waves. We have the ever present of the talented and magic Rhys Hughes. And he knows how to hold the reader to a story without using glue – fantastic! And when we notice we are looking at the last lines of the chapter.
He (Rufus Anton) was only dimly aware of a woman’s voice telling him that he had spoiled the game as she was about the make the move that would result in checkmate.
chapter: The Solution to the Problem
About this chapter I do not have much to say, not because I don’t want to, but simply because I can’t. I must blame the author for the way he wrote the chapter.
On the first pages Amira and Rufus begin to interact in a harmless way, but at the end of the story about the Xaratan the love begins to reveal itself. It is difficult for me to write about the chapter because from page 39 we have two stories simultaneously narrated: one “the main” story, other “the Xaratan” story.
new wine brand
When reached this part of the book is indifferent summarize what’s going on and is preferable to write how Rhys Hughes found graphically, so to speak, a way to tell the two stories at the same time. He ingeniously split up the pages into two columns. In a column there is the story, that I call “the main” in which the font used is bigger; in another column we have the “xaratanic” story in which he used a smaller font. This artifice goes over 10 pages and it works very well. I advise you to first read the story about the xaratan, keeping it in memory, step back 10 pages and read “the main” story. I laughed at the end exactly as Amira laughed.
The two stories “mate” perfectly – Rhys Hughes did a wonderful job. You need to read it.
From this union of words and after Rufus having closed the book and for
(…) the first time he looked at Amira properly, directly in the eyes, and instantly he lost all his old anxieties and acquired a set of new ones. His mouth opened and he said: “You are as beautiful as a goddess.”
As they say that God writes in mysterious ways, also Rhys can write about love in a different way, but consistent with his verbal traps, puns; only he can mesmerize the reader with these words:
“Then take my hand and stop me from drowning in your lovely eyes.”
“Lake of my eye? That’s singular. Don’t you mean lakes in the plural?” “This is just one of the lakes,” said Rufus, as his shoes squelched. “No man can look into both of a woman’s eyes at the same time. His gaze will switch from one to the other.”
this is Rhys at full steam. An he even have the chance to create a new wine brand: Chateau Cheval Sombre de la Mer.
The next chapter will be equally surprising and why? Because I read
This method of telling stories without using words is an invention of Italo Calvino and to him I now pay modest homage.
chapter: The Chamber of Crossed Destinies
This chapter is the easiest to comment. Where to start? It’s full of pictures and are the images (tarot cards) that tell the story. And of course I will not recount the plot the cards are telling. I, only, can add that just reading this chapter you can realize not only the beauty of the chapter, but also the genius of Rhys Hughes.
And that single empty space was communal to both of them, so a collision of Fates was unavoidable.
chapter: The Thousand and One Kisses
And here’s the last chapter in which much is revealed. The author is warned, again, to stay out of the story when he’s discovered disguised into a painter by our characters?
“I thought I asked you to stay out of this text and not bother your characters,” Amira said to me in a tone of weary disapproval.
The author attempts to justify is presence with brilliant puns, but
“You and your wordplay!” sighed Amira.
Once again the brilliance of Rhys Hughes is present in every line. He does not simply tell a story; he provides the reader with visual and language jokes – we just need to pay attention to the page 70 where we are faced with the transformation of the initial game of chess on a game of seduction.
I don’t dare to recount the details of this chapter. I only add that Rhys Hughes has created an ingenious story of love and – checkmate!
The book has another unusual features not seen in other books by Rhys Hughes, started:
by the layout of title
bottled love story – tittle
by the existence of lots of pictures
for typographic diversity like this one
or this one – the book has this precious image at the beginning of some paragraphs.
 arabic name  which meant “red-haired” in latin  the sea monster Xaratan was first mentioned in a conversation between Dr Karl Mondaugen and Rufus. (page 18)  from Wikipedia
I don’t know how to draw, so I just do rough drafts on any piece of paper and thereby I get drawings.
I am not a professional photographer, but I’m a shot addict – bang! bang!
I shoot to the left, to the right and from time to time I get some great photos.
This then? This is not a book. This is libel, slander, and defamation of character. This is not a book, in the ordinary sense of the word. No, this is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of Art, a kick in the pants to God, Man, Destiny,Time, Love, Beauty… – Henry Miller
porta VIII is my personal site. Grab a beer and sit tight.
Are you comfortable? Take a look around to the new stuff and adventure trough the archives. Cá me podem encontrar a percorrer o mesmo caminho; a arrotar bom dia, boa tarde, boa noite, e por vezes um até já.
my goal is to keep me satisfied!
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