The Reverbstorm Appendix

A n   a p p e n d i x   o f   r e f e r e n c e s   i n   t h e   s e r i e s
  Horror spotAs a result of popular—and consistent—request, we decided some time ago to put together a list detailing the considerable amount of cultural references in the Reverbstorm series. Some are relatively well known, especially to anyone familiar with Modernist art and literature, others tend to be more obscure, especially those from the more rarefied worlds of Weird Fiction and Rock'n'Roll. Since it would be unreasonable to expect every reader to share our own eclectic tastes, we can at least throw some light on areas of (unintended) confusion; those who still prefer an element of mystery to their enjoyment are welcome to ignore these lists.

This appendix is only intended as an explanation of specific references in the comics. With some minor exceptions (the comments below concerning the title) no interpretation has been offered. We prefer questions of meaning in this series to remain the domain of the reader.

John Coulthart

Reverbstorm 1

Reverbstorm 2

Reverbstorm 3

Reverbstorm 4

Reverbstorm 5

Reverbstorm 6

Reverbstorm 7

Interpretations of the title:


1—Paul Temple's lyrics: Reverbstorm was originally a song brought to Savoy by music journalist Paul Temple. His article Savwarfare in the Savoy Wars CD booklet details his first encounter with Savoy, on a mission in 1986 to track down PJ Proby. No mere rock hack, with a prose style far better than the music rags deserve, Temple also had another life as founder member of the Wagnerian Soul Fraternity, an unhinged band of ether-jumping Northern Soul demons. Their whizz-fuelled exploits are described in another Temple article, Reverbstorm in The Adventures of Meng & Ecker.

The lyrics of Reverbstorm (printed at the beginning of the series) are a WSF declaration of intent dragged forcibly into Lord Horror's world. David Britton's appropriation of the title and the reworking of the phrase 'jumping the ether' set a pattern for the rest of the series.


2—Rock'n'Roll: The introduction of artificial reverberation to popular music was one of the distinctive innovations of prime Rock'n'Roll (the treatment of the vocals in Heartbreak Hotel, for example). Rock'n'Roll exemplifies artistic exaggeration; raw physical energy (the storm) deliberately distorted and enhanced (the reverb) to achieve maximum intensity.


3—The Nightmare of History: Walter Benjamin's famous piece from Illusions (quoted at the beginning of # 5) describes the angel of history being blown backwards into the future by the storm of progress. In this context the reverbstorm is an echo of the historical nightmare which piles wreckage upon wreckage and sweeps holocausts across the globe. This relates to James Joyce's words, also in # 5: 'History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.' Ulysses (p.40).


4—Finnegans Wake (1939): James Joyce's final book (portions of which are scattered through the series) is, amongst many things, a dream of history, explored via the theories of Giovanni Battista Vico, an Italian philosopher who saw the evolution of society as being governed by an endlessly repeating cycle of events. In Vico's scheme, thunder is the voice of God which inaugurates each new age of the cycle, causes men to build shelters, which become communities and so lead to the establishment of civilisation. The thunder also inspires the creation of language as men try to imitate its sound.

Here, then, we have a repeating cycle (reverb) announced by thunder (storm).


5—The Waste Land (1922): In T S Eliot's poem, an important narrative feature in #5, the fifth section is entitled 'What The Thunder Said'. This time the thunder comes from the sacred Hindu Upanishads. In a fable, three separate groups (gods, demons and men) approach the creator Parajupti and ask him to speak. Each receive the same response from the Thunder, the divine voice—'DA'—yet each group interprets the statement in a different way. In this aspect, what the Thunder said, the voice of God, the Reverbstorm, is something which each person will interpret differently, a characteristic embodied in the title itself.

It should also be noted here that The Waste Land is one of the most famous written examples of a work carefully constructed of quotes from other works by different writers, a form which the Reverbstorm series uses increasingly as it progresses.

Finally, at the beginning of 'What The Thunder Said', Eliot connects 'reverb' and 'thunder' in the lines:

'Prison and palace and reverberation
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains'.


6—Etymology: A reverberatorium is a furnace which operates by reflecting heat. A reverbstorm then, would presumably be the torrent of smoke issuing from furnace chimneys like those of the Torenbürgen crematoria.

Breaking the word down unearths further interpretations:

Re (about, or concerning) / Verbero (beat) / Verbum (word)

Using 'verbero' could give: 'concerning the storm of beats'.
Beats in this case can be the beats of Rock'n'Roll (the 'Dirty Motherfucker' beat made famous by Bo Diddley), a torrent of blows from a fist or a weapon, or the metaphysical, etheric beats described by William Hope Hodgson in The Night Land.

Using 'verbum' gives: 'concerning the storm of words'. The literary tempest of Finnegans Wake and the thunder of Lord Horror's propaganda, vilification and abuse.

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