across like Chumbawamba getting loaded up on magic mushrooms, finding
possessed by the Butthole Surfers and staggering off to play
with the glue and scissors awhile."
Deppey: The Comics Journal review
A nice visual quotation from 'The Bart Dickon Omnibus' on the Reviewer Magazine (San Diego,
California) website. Any chance of that review, chaps?
The exploits of Bart Dickon
is a true Menippean
treat full of pataphysical wonderment: a veritable Grand-Guignol
of comics not to be missed by any connoisseur of the absurd. [The
comics are great. You have really pushed the medium in a new direction.
I am a comics scholar who teaches a class in the history of comics I am
interested in doing an essay on collage comics. I was wondering if it
would be possible to interview you on the subject sometime?]
Dr. Robert S. Petersen, Assistant
Professor, Art Department, Eastern Illinois University [Dr Petersen and
the author will meet up in the ether, no doubt.]
I fear for your psyche.
Mr David Spirit, Gentleman
"For all those who lie on the bed of
ignorance. 'Politically Correct': a definition.
The often quoted earliest cited usage of the term (in the form "not
politically correct") comes from the U.S. Supreme Court decision
Chisholm v. Georgia (1793), where it clearly means that the statement
it refers to is not literally correct, owing to the political status of
the United States as it was understood at that time.
The term "political correctness" is said to derive from
Marxist-Leninist vocabulary to describe the "party line". By the
1970s this term, re-appropriated as a satirical form of criticism, was
being used by some on the Left to dismiss the views of other Leftists
whom they deemed too doctrinaire and rigid. It was in this sense that
the popular usage of the phrase in English derived. The
alternative term "ideologically sound" followed a similar trajectory to
this point, appearing in satirical works such as Bart Dickon.
In the 1990s, the term became part of a conservative challenge to
curriculum and teaching methods on college campuses in the United
States (D'Souza 1991; Berman 1992; Schultz 1993; Messer Davidow 1993,
1994; Scatamburlo 1998). In a commencement address at the University of
Michigan in 1991, U.S. President George H. W. Bush spoke out against a
"movement" who would "declare certain topics off-limits, certain
expressions off-limits, even certain gestures off-limits."
The phrase "politically correct" has become popular in other
countries as well, including several Scandinavian countries (politisk
korrekt=pk), Spain and Latin America (políticamente correcto),
France (politiquement correct), Germany (politisch korrekt), The
Netherlands (politiek correct) and Italy (politicamente
corretto)." [An
even more oblique reference to Bart Dickon in the virtual world.]
Nirvana-Guy - Christian Conservative
Written by the father of the most talented family in Ipswich, Borin
Van Loon (what a cool name!). This took Borin seventeen years to
compile, and it really shows in the amazing details he has managed to
put into the montages that make up the story in this book. The images
are largely based on what appears to be English comics of the early
twentieth century. There is a storyline running through this but I must
confess that I was at a bit of a loss to figure out what that was, but
then I'm not the sharpest knife in the rack! This is a real work of
Andrew Culture, Beat Motel magazine,
Issue 7 (www.beatmotel.co.uk)
Dickon! Many and much belated thanks for sending
your OMNIBUS. Cor! It maketh the jaw drop. Congrats on this
Bests, Peter Blegvad, Musician, Bon
viveur, raconteur and creator of that fine comic strip 'Leviathan'
(http://www.leviathan.co.uk/, also available as 'The Book Of Leviathan'
published in the UK by Sort Of Books, 2000).
An unexpected citation for Bart Dickon
in 'The Jersalem Post'...
...Because soy and tofu in the West was seen as food for the
organic, hippie or vegetarian types, rather than mainstream carnivores,
tofu jokes abound. Searching "tofu jokes" on the Internet yields dozens
of American soy-eaters complaining about snide comments from their
carnivore friends and family.
In the UK comic book style novel, The Bart Dickon Omnibus by
writer/illustrator Borin van Loon, a politically correct secret agent
is asked, "what evil swarm of purulence is this, the pustulent, bubbly,
warty surface cracked and oozing an unspeakable putrescence and giving
off foul and bilious odours, you spawn of satan, you?" He replies:
"That's my meatless tofu burger. Want one?"
Tofu and soy jokes in the West far predate the vegetarian and health
Auto manufacturer Henry Ford's ingenuity with soybean byproducts became
the butt of jokes in the 1930s in the US, when he started heavily
investing in the agricultural applications of the bean for industry.
Soon, newspapers were boasting that Ford had succeeded in using the oil
or fiber from his hundreds of soybean crops in car paint, door handles,
gearshifts, window trim, pedals and gears. When Ford predicted that
cars would eventually be made entirely from soybeans, soy jokes went
into full gear. "Man can have his car and eat it too," made its rounds,
as well as "The new car wouldn't need gas, just a little salt, pepper
The Jerusalem Post, May 22,
2007 from an article called 'Fleishig, milchig or soychig?'
by Laureb Gelfond Feldinger
Hey Borin! Thank you for the review
copies of the comic book I received today! They totally rock and
I look forward to providing you with copious coverage for them!
~Rob (Reviewer Magazine, California,
U.S.A. https://www.reviewermag.com/) - via Bart's myspace page.
>I've read some of the Omnibus. Great stuff... was
looking at your book again last night. such great collages!
The Sound Of Drowning via Bart's
>Hair-raising stuuff! [This
beside an image of Borin's painting
of The Slits.] Once upon a time, somewhere
around the punk rock era, there was an all-female band called "The
Slits" and this is a portrait of them commissioned for a print series
at the time. The artist, Borin van Loon, was recently in touch again so
I thought a revisit was due. Borin also produced some memorable images
of Gary Numan, The Rolling
Stones and Siouxsie Sioux. He is currently producing a new comic
book and you can see more by clicking on the link.
[Albeit an oblique reference to Bart
Dickon, we thought we'd add it here. Mal Burns commissioned the
paintings mentioned for the Rock Art series of prints. See
>Ip1 Magazine (issue 21)
The text reads:
Borin Van Loon, Ipswich-based artist, roadie and graphic
novelist extraordinaire, affords IP1 a quick peek at the workings of
his latest graphic novella.
"From an early stage, when I started glueing bits of paper together, I
believed that this collage approach to the comic strip was something
important and unlike anything else. The 'hand-doneness' is an important
factor in this aspect of my work and makes it stand out in an age of
computer generated images, which are in danger of resembling bland,
sausage machine-like illustration. In the case of the Omnibus the only roughs exist as
scribbles on bits of paper or in notebooks to help me recall juicy
phrases or possible plotlines. Now that Bart is featuring in his own
text stories [see Bart's Blog], the reader
can create their own images in their heads -
which, let's face it, saves me a lot of work."
Borin's inspirations include writing by John Buchan, the Marquis de
Sade and the Beano, and his comedic influences: French and Saunders.
Eddie Izzard, and Gary Larson, or "Anyone who plays the English
language like a finely-tuned instrument."
He is subversive – at least by Ipswich satandards. Images magazine, for example, found
that a collage strip of mine proposed as a regular feature frightened
the horses. "Perhaps it was the heady mix of opium abuse, homosexuality
and vegetarianism which put them off."
Borin's work has, for the most part, existed 'underground'. Not a bad
place to be, as he believes the underground is "ripe to be exploited by
enterprising artists and writers. If you have the talent, it could be
for you. The imp of the perverse sells."
Borin admits that a typical night out for him means "roadie-ing for my
offspring who are both musical performers". His son is drummer in Steel
Rhino and the punk band Danger's Close; his daughter, is also
vocalist/rhythm guitarist in Vortex.
"Surrealism and humour lie at the heart of what I do. I aim to disturb
and amuse in equal measure."
Omnibus can be found at
Central City Comics, Know Your Product and in Waterstone's. "I sell
copies via my gorgeous website and through Amazon.co.uk."
[Words: Victoria Guthrie, Illustration: Borin Van Loon. The double
spread features the full colour inside front cover from The Bart Dickon Omnibus called 'A
>downthetubes just received a copy of The Bart Dickon Omnibus by
Borin Van Loon, a wonderful surrealist graphic novel for
grown-ups, packed with crazed montage illustration paying dubious
but funny homage to British comics.
Illustrated throughout in collage comic-strip style, the book's
central graphic novella: 'A Severed Head' sees hero Bart Dickon
(the ideologically-sound secret agent) intrepidly involved in
derring-do. This latter day Odyssey follows him from procreation, via
birth, schooldays and an Apprenticeship In The University Of
Life, to his ultimate vocation as 'The English Assassin', pith
helmet-wearing conqueror of something-or-other and subversive spy
in a world of wickedness and treachery.
The book will appeal to underground comics fans, fans of Terry
Gilliam's anarchic animations for Monty Python's Flying Circus
and, well, anyone with a quirky sense of humour really. Here at
downthetubes we especailly enjoyed the montage strip combined
with text from lurid adult fiction!
John Freeman reviewed on Down The
Tubes, a website devoted to British
comics on http://www.downthetubes.net/ 18 November, 2006
>Of all the things for which
Situationist mastermind Guy DeBord really needs a good and bloody
beating, no offense strikes me as more grievous than the concept
of "detournment." In theory, it sounds like the sort of thing that
great art is made, and indeed, the process of appropriating and
recontextualizing the art and communications of our surroundings has
occasionally led to just that: the sound-collage ensemble Negativland,
for example, have created interesting and thoughtful pieces out of
spare parts on any number of occasions.
That said, even Negativland fall on their collective faces half the
time. It's a difficult trick to pull off, and many dangers -- obvious
symbolism and inane attempts at shock value among them -- lie
perpetually around the corner. More often, detournment is used for
cheap laughs that inevitably read like something you've seen a thousand
times before, and recontextualized comics are among the worst
offenders. There's only so many times you can take old romance comics
and turn them into odes to cocaine-fueled buttsex before the joke gets
old. And let's face it, by this point the joke is most certainly old:
Have you ever opened a copy of Comics Buyers Guide and stumbled across
an example of John Lustig's Last Kiss strips that you actually found
funny? Me neither, and Last Kiss is actually the best of the lot. At
the lower end, you've got the comedy stylings of Kieth Giffen, and it
doesn't get much more pointless than that.
Lights! Action! Recontextualization! Panel from The Bart
Dickon Omnibus ©2005 Borin Van Loon.
All of this may well be a roundabout way of saying that I'm probably
not the target audience for Borin Van Loon's recent collection of
cut-and-paste funnies, The Bart Dickon Omnibus, but I must confess to
have found it halfway interesting anyway. Partly, it's because this
book is one part detournment, one part intricate, Max Ernst-style
collage, and the latter goes a fair way toward justifying the former.
Mainly, however, I'm willing to give Bart Dickon a pass because its
creator isn't interested in making you laugh so much as simply weirding
you out -- a goal at which it sometimes succeeds quite well.
Van Loon uses a combination of old woodcut illustrations, panels from
decades-old British comics and quasi-anarchist gibberish to create a
collection of "stories" -- scare quotes intentional -- that seem like
they'd be vaguely subversive if they weren't so flat-out bizarre. It
almost reads like a parody of more earnest U.K. socialists; alas, the
current variety of English left-wing thought tends more towards
humorless sloganeering, whereas The Bart Dickon Omnibus seems to
delight in seeing how close it can come to sounding like it has a point
of view while still clinging to utter nonsense. Consequently, it comes
across like Chumbawamba getting loaded up on magic mushrooms, finding
themselves possessed by the Butthole Surfers and staggering off to play
with the glue and scissors awhile.
Actually, this is about as close to straightforward as it
ever gets. Panel from The Bart Dickon Omnibus ©2005 Borin Van
It helps that the old British comics used here were actually more bland
and personality-starved than even the old woodcuts with which they're
juxtaposed in these pages, and that Van Loon takes his time to make
everything look as seamless as possible. It doesn't always work --
there are any number of places in The Bart Dickon Omnibus where
differences in source material make the end results look just kludgy,
and vast chunks of text fail at exactly the same sort of jokes you'd
expect from something like this -- but that it works at all is itself
something of a minor miracle. I'm not sure I'd recommend this book;
"Wow, this doesn't totally suck" is the closest I can come to a
pull-quote for future editions, but it's far more than I expected to
say in its favor. That's something, I guess.
Review written by
Dirk Deppey, Sunday, 01 October 2006, The Comics Journal
Borin writes: When I published
this book, I knew
that there was going to be a minimum of one person who liked, nay,
loved it: moi. Of course, I hoped I might win some doubters over and
reading the above review, I might just have succeeded with Dirk. Pity
he can't spell "favour". This review includes two panels taken from the
>Just bought the above from Central City
Comics~ Now reading it and loving it! Splindid, splandid and
Bib Edwards, illustrator and comics
>Van Loon’s dapper, nay sartorially
gifted, creation Bart Dickon is ostensibly an affectionate
homage to the boys’ heroes of the 1930s-40s story papers and
comics. But look closer and you begin to see that the wonderful collage
style of the stories hearkens back to a different period –
namely, the high-water mark of underground experimentation in the 1960s
and 70s (think Oz/IT/Cyclops) – and that Dickon is a very
different kind of hero, again with echoes from that hippie era (his
intra-dimensional adventuring is pure Jerry Cornelius, and his
left-wing politics certainly don’t fit the 1930s-40s template).
Dickon may be a delightful mish-mash of influences and styles, but call
him ‘postmodern’ and he’s likely to want to
‘teach you a lesson’ – without getting his Jermyn
Street tailored shirt creased, of course.
Roger Sabin, comics and graphic novel
expert (comics reviewer for 'The Observer', author of 'Comics, comix
and graphic novels: a history of comic art' Phaidon 1996)
>... I prefer home-grown
superheroes. Give me Bart Dickon, "ideologically sound"
secret agent, any time. He lives on the pages of The Chap magazine , but
occasionally his creator, Borin Van Loon, lets him out in full-length
novellas. In his latest outing, The
Bart Dickon Omnibus, Bart refuses to come out of his mother's
womb, wins a Second World War battle all over again, stops the future
from being privatised, and is caught by the lovely teenager Snowy and
her doppelganger "in flagrante osculato with a flippertygibbet". Now
there's a proper comic crusader, one who knows that reality and
al-Qaeda should be left well alone.
Ziauddin Sardar, extract from his
column 'Holy terror! Batman versus Bin Laden!' from New Statesman 18
September, 2006 [The full article is available on the Web at
> ... Pretty far
Adam, graphic novel buyer,
By the way Bo,
Bin reading the Severed Head anthology, well, truth be known,
have been reading it for some time and I’m constantly delighted
by its little felicitations which tickle me.
Such as simple things like
Jail Bait [bottom of page one
of the Prologue]
Which made me think about the illustrator who originally did the
pic and the readership at the time (probably me) and the formative
effect it would have had on my expectations of women
--That I still have!
Such things are meat to my mind man
Have a good day you dastardly devil you.
Graham Weir, Gentleman 21 November 2006
>When I was nine, my father, who had
just directed a play at the college where he taught, gave me the gag
gift which had been presented to him by the cast. It was an
over-sized coloring book depicting the days of the American Revolution
-- tri-corner hats and men in powdered wigs filled the pages, with
captions beneath claiming that these black and white line drawing
accurately illustrated such moments as the signing of the Declaration
of Independence and Ben Franklin's shocking the nation with his spare
key. My father gave me this huge coloring book, probably without having
thumbed through it himself, because if he had he might not have given
it to his pre-pubescent son. His student's had altered the drawings,
adding in balloons with "R" rated dialog and altering the physiques of
our founding fathers so that they were more... let's just say Benjamin
Franklin's reputation with the ladies would have been easily explained
by what some creative college sophomore did with a felt tipped pen.
I was captivated by the dual layer of the coloring book. The original
story was still there, and the fact that George Washington was now
cutting down the cherry tree while badmouthing his mother with a
gleeful Jack Nicholson face a la "The Shining" added for effect didn't
alter the fact that there he was, ax in hand, mid-swing. There was the
original tale. There was the ironic, sarcastic, sardonic second layer
plastered on top, commenting, challenging, but evocative of the very
past that it was supposedly masking. I was fascinated by this and
returned to it, never adding to it -- I felt the book was perfect the
way it was, and I would study the additions and laugh at jokes I
wouldn't really get for another six or seven years and then I'd slide
the whole thing under my bed. This is how I felt as I read Borin Van
Loon's The Bart Dickon Omnibus. This graphic novel, constructed out of
multiple "borrowed" images from various sources and cut-and-pasted
together by Mr. Van Loon is an astounding example of surreal riffing on
culture. It's smartly juvenile, crudely polished, and maddeningly
simple. This book hits the right notes in many different ways.
First, the collage technique used here affects the overall presentation
of the story by being a visual pun on one of the through-lines of the
book. Bart is the "ideologically sound secret agent" with an oddly
communist agenda that forces him to remain in protest of Thatcher's
administration. The pun that history has ended, as all good communists
aspire to prove, is illustrated by the use of decades worth of images.
It collapses history and continuity, it evokes the past while being
very contemporary. The styles of the drawings (and there are many, I
can't even begin to guess how many sources were used; the copyright
page includes a note which claims that some of the art reaches back
through the past two centuries) and the constantly changing appearance
of Bart and every other character as a result, is a constant reminder
that you are looking at history mushed together, that this is
artificial, manufactured. Bart's actions are standard heroic daring-do,
but patched together from every imaginable angle and style of pulp art.
Some graphic elements are obviously silly ads (I was sadly excited to
find a chapter which uses the "dork on the beach gets exercise
instructions and kicks the bully's ass" ad from the back of comics
circa 1975), others may be Buck Rogers comics, Lone Ranger style
westerns, romantic boudoir shots, or even illustrated medical journals
(as is used in the chapter on Bart's refusal to be born).
The difficulty of all this is that while the book's hyper-awareness of
the past, the use of and playing off of the antiquated views of women,
school, war, art, death, etc., invites smart critique, it is
unrelenting in its mocking of criticism and intellectualism. It's like
taking a film course being instructed by the Mystery Science Theater
3000 crew (not the cast, but literally the characters), or a writing
class by Thomas Pynchon. There is more interest in the telling than in
the story. Despite all this, there is some story here, and like Pynchon
it may require more than one sitting (a little can go a long way while
deciphering what is going on when it takes so much effort just to know
who you are looking at). The use of any continuity is impressive. How
long must it take to get panels that flow when every image is from a
different source? One way that Mr. Van Loon provides structure is by
breaking the book into chapters which involve specific elements of
Barton's life. This breaks our culture (the real subject of the book)
into digestible parts for lampooning: birth and medicine, war,
exploration and masculinity, sex.
But, in the end, who cares about plot, characters, evolution, conflict,
resolution, or even continuity? There are puns to be made, jokes to
throw at the wall, and the time for counting to see what has stuck will
come later and be done by someone else. Inevitably, that someone else
is the reader. When everything looks different from panel to panel,
when the dialog or captions sometimes speak directly to the reader
(pointing out a bare nipple, for instance, as acceptable on "artistic"
grounds) who else can provide the context and continuity? You have to
say, in other words, "I'm in on the joke." Like Mystery Science Theater
or meta-fictional writing the reader is responsible for "getting it,"
as jokes are thrown quick fire at you (and some may be lost due to a
difference between Brits and Americans) you can't merely wait for the
man in the cape to swoop in and rescue the damsel, you have to be aware
that drawings of capes and drawings of damsels are beyond swooping and
saving, unless we find room for them in the stories we create for
It's been said that comics are like watching a movie with the sound
off. In this case, Bart Dickon is a little like watching the news with
the sound off-important stuff is happening, nothing necessarily leads
logically to the next, and there's a good deal that's disturbing, but
the stories march on, and who the hell knows what they're about. There
are some surreal games and texts in the Omnibus as well, but the real
joy is the main story, a graphic novella entitled "A Severed Head."
Like the pulp art that the work is pulled from, "A Severed Head" is
filled with stereotypes and cliches, but when the simplicities of these
are put together, they create a complex whole which is compelling and
hard to ignore.
Sean Ferrell reviewed on PopMatters,
international magazine of cultural criticism on
http://www.popmatters.com/comics/bart-dickon-omnibus.shtml 17 April 2006
[Update from Sean, November
Thank you so much for your kind note.
I was just thinking about your Omnibus
the other day as a matter of fact. I recently moved and was wondering
which box it was pack away in. It's a brain-tickler of a book and I am
glad that my enjoyment of it was clearly expressed in my
review...." N.B. Sean's first novel is entitled 'Numb' and is
available on Amazon.]
>This 108 page work has been described
by the creator as a "surrealist graphic novella for grown ups. Illustrated
throughout in collage comic- book style." Truly distinctive and unique
The Bart Dickon Omnibus deserves top marks for originality. I have
never seen anything quite like it before. Imagine Monty Pythonesque
humour presented in classic British "Boys Own" comic book style and you
start to get somewhere near what is on offer here, but only somewhere
What Borin Van Loon has done here is collect a huge range of
illustrations and comic frames from a wide variety of
‘historic’ sources such as early British comics and
Victorian style magazine illustrations. He has then let himself go
crazy with scissors and glue and cut and pasted away to create a
collage style comic. He has then overlaid his own storyline and
dialogue and, Hey Presto, there you go, an original comic is created.
I believe David Bowie sometimes utilised a similar cut and paste
approach to lyric writing and it worked for him so why not. The omnibus
is made up of one main story and several, often related, subsidiary
tales. In reading this graphic novel it helps to have an understanding
and appreciation of British comics such as Eagle and literature
generally [such as Conrad’s Heart of Darkness] as allusions to
these and other works are sprinkled liberally throughout.
There is a heavy use of pun and an equally heavy use of Victorian
verbiage. The former technique works well but the later starts to get
as little tiresome due to the length of the novella.
The main story is the 15 chapter Severed Head tale where the heroic
secret agent Bart Dickon does indeed get his head cut off and for the
rest of the adventure has to operate without a body. No easy task, it
is just as well that his female sidekick, Snowy, is there to help out.
And yes, in case you were wondering, Tintin’s faithful canine
sidekick of the same name does have a cameo spot.
This is a very brave publication and great fun but it is not easy to
read. I have already mentioned the weight of words, this is a
deliberate stylistic technique but one that does get a little too
weighty, the other problem is inherent in the nature of a collage style
comic. That is that due to the selection of picture the characters
often change dramatically in appearance, this can be confusing. There
is also a tension created by the necessity to marry picture and word.
At times the storyline sometimes seems to try to justify the pictures
and vice versa.
Van Loon alternates between telling his tale and providing humerous
dialogue that sets up a contrast between what is written and what is
seen. This often works brilliantly as a one off gag but sometimes
obstructs narrative coherence. An example of this being a frame where
an exhausted pith helmet wearing British explorer is floating down an
African? river in a small boat and says "So this is Bourenmouth, what a
dump." While this is very funny the dichotomy between gag and narrative
sometimes gets a little confusing.
The Bart Dickon Omnibus is so innovative however that these quibbles
should be put aside and the glory of risk taking creativity be left to
shine brightly and proudly.
From the opening Foreword not written by Stephen Fry to the following
hallucinogenic experience resulting from sniffing a banana skin we are
plunged into a world that sets its own rules as it goes along. My
favourite page is the self contained Dickon Guide to Great Movements of
Cultural History which provides the reader with a history of Punk Rock,
I think. An example of how subversive and challenging comics can be
when the imagination is let loose.
In a Word: Ground-breaking
Steve Saville reviewed on Silver
web'zine on http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/smallpress, March 2006
>The Omnibus has
arrived -- and it is
splendid! I will be sure to
show it around to all my friends.
Ruefle, poetess, Kalamazoo,