Savoy Comics

“Look for a long time at what pleases you,
longer still at what pains you.” C o l e t t e

The Horror Of It All

A n   i n t r o d u c t i o n   t o   S a v o y   C o m i c s  
b y   D a v i d   M i t c h e l l
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• Beyond Magazine
Reprinted in Rapid Eye 2 (1995)







Horror spotFOR THE LAST TEN YEARS, Savoy books and records have been stirring up the mud. David Britton, Michael Butterworth, Kris Guidio, John Coulthart and others have been performing the dangerous and thankless task of showing us (through their books, comics and other products), the true face of the Beast—ruthlessly and mercilessly slicing away at the powdered mask in the vomit-stained mirror to expose the wriggling grub of fascist hate and emotional emptiness at the heart of British (and Western) culture. No prisoners are taken in their onslaught, no heroes unslain, no icons left standing, no altars left unbesmirched—for we are, after all, living in an age where there are more idols than realities.

Their pedigree has been impeccable. They've published many incredible books, several of which have attracted a fair degree of controversy in their own right, including Samuel Delany's Tides Of Lust and Jack Trevor Story's Screwrape Lettuce. But the real shit started to fly in 1989, when Savoy published Dave Britton's own surreal and picaresque book Lord Horror, a Burroughsian, Swiftian satire recounting the exploits of various persons in the form of distorted caricatures of actual historical persons such as Cosimo Matassa (who ran the New Orleans studio where all the great black Rock'n'Roll records of the '50s were cut: Little Richard, Fats Domino, etc.), Hitler, and the eponymous British wartime traitor 'Lord Haw Haw'—William Joyce, here embodied as Lord Horror.

Lord Horror by Kris Guidio
Lord Horror
The acrobatic and pyrotechnic prose contains savage and obscene flights of sadistic excess and surreal passages of lyrical brilliance comparable in effect to Rimbaud and Lautréamont. The most controversial element, however, has been the racist dogma spouted by the book's characters. Reading it now, long after the initial fuss and furore has died down somewhat, I'm amazed at the hysterical reactions to the book by both right-wing upholders of 'decency' and by the liberal defenders of human rights and freedom of expression who were offended by the book's politically incorrect or unfashionable elements when taken out of context.

To the discerning reader it should be obvious that neither the book, the publisher, nor the author and editor endorse or encourage any of the racist, pro-fascist hatred articulated by any of the novel's characters. One should remember that Savoy grew out of Michael Moorcock's New Worlds stable in the '60s and evolved in the company of writers such as M John Harrison, JG Ballard and Samuel Delany. Savoy was born from the period of Harlan Ellison's Dangerous Visions, Philip José Farmer's Image Of The Beast, Blown and, more importantly, The Jungle Rot Kid On The Nod (stylistically, content-wise and intent-wise), Philip K Dick's psychotropic nightmares and other books such as Norman Spinrad's Men In The Jungle, The Iron Dream and the intensely disturbing Bug Jack Barron, which Savoy acknowledge as a predecessor of Lord Horror in terms of the controversial status the novel achieved outside the Houses of Parliament. >>>