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28th November 2011

Noel’s latest chapter

Fielding sticks it to the virtual and hits a home run for the tangible
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In which the shambling, psychedelic comedian twists and turns into his latest colour-fueled adventure: art.

Noel Fielding, as a comedian needs no introduction, as an artist he just might. And that introduction now comes in all-purpose finest-bound compendium purchasable from your nearest Internet browser, or if you’re not into browsing (via mouse), from a hard copy shop. Scribblings of a Madcap Shambleton is the clarifying collection of drawings, paintings, photographs, crayon-etchings from the ever-eclectic comic mind, recently released by Noel. The comic was kind enough to include Manchester on his book tour, gracing Waterstone’s (and its walls) in the Arndale Centre on 12th November. He created an original Fielding on the glass, painting and riffing whilst he worked.

So Noel’s moving further afield in art (and venue) with this book. Except, as ever his work is tarred with that particular, light Fielding feather. His comedic timing is artistry at work, and his art an exercise in cross-fertilization, and no less distinctive. The pieces are lurid, light-hearted but full of dark mischief – just like the man himself really – inspired by Rousseau and Dalí. A departure in medium, perhaps, but not in content. Whether standing-up for his comedy or sitting down with a brush it’s two sides of the same Noel-profiled coin. He’s even got Boosh favourite, Dave “Bollo” Brown, to join the venture, to keep the Mighty spirit alive. He’s talking out of the other side of the boosh, but with strokes like that, who wouldn’t want the conversation to stop?

It was noted after one of his first exhibitions, at Gallery Maison Bertaux, that the paintings would sell even without the ever-marketable fame tag. Whether this is true or not is almost impossible to test, but may now be tried. Celebrity-related or even –written books seem to be standing firm against the ominous economic and technological tide that’s attempting to relegate books to history. But Noel’s has another weapon up its sleeve to reel in the punters: it’s a beautifully put-together gem, with proper quality pages, and the excitement of the unknown ahead fuelling the turning of those pages. In other words, it’s a book you want to have and to hold, to feel. Proof of this pudding, it’s not even being sold as an ‘e-book’. Well, yet. I may have inadvertently ‘told the publishers’ I wanted to see it on my (please, a) kindle whilst attempting to find out if it was available in e-format.

Scribblings of a Madcap Shambleton, hopefully, at least, bucks the trend of virtual creation. The literary industry seems to be heading towards that dark rabbit warren the music industry finds itself in, where ‘fans’ have to be tricked and coerced not to illegally co-opt the e-version of someone’s work. It’s a slippery tract. But, it does mean that those few intractable backlashers are working to create tangible little pieces of art, that really warrant, nay need, to be bought and held. Visual Editions are a perfect example of this, a tireless publisher founded in 2009, working day and night to create books as ‘visually interesting’ as they are lexically. Equally, Alex Burrett’s ‘My Goat Ate Its Own Legs’, whose unruly goat also seemed to have chewed a corner of the book off, which although was undeservedly unsuccessful, offered a little something extra (well, less) to the reader.

So, to sum up, if you are a willing ear for any boosh to chew off, any way anytime, then support the bigger guy – paper – and buy this real book from a real shop.

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