Friday, October 07, 2005

Its the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend up here and we are getting ready to go up to Gravenhurst and hang out with family.
So heres my sort of spooky related post for the next couple of days which some of you might enjoy.

Growing up I always loved monster [and still do] movies. My earliest, vivid television movie memories are probably the Edgar Allan Poe movies from Roger Corman. I'd love to illustrate a Poe collection
and I managed to sneak in a small portrait of him on the wall of one of the illustrations in the childrens book I Illustrated.

My favourite Poe illustrations are by inspiring pen and ink master Harry Clarke. Nothing comes close as far as I'm concerned and I love the comic adaptations by Berni Wrightson in the Warren Mags.

One of my great early movie theatre memories was seeing Alien on its first run. I was way to young to get in but I "ahem" did and I'll never forget seeing it for the first time [ much like Bladerunner years later] and watching the Nostromo crew land on the planet and scenes like the space jockey and all the eggs. And of course the Alien as its slowly revealed .WoW I still think its an incredible movie and am sucked immediately into it any time I put it on and even tho I can enjoy the sequels, I don't think they are anywhere near as good.
I bought up all the making of books when I could afford them and I became a H.R. Giger fan right away.
Tho I don't think theres any real outwardly visible examples of his influence
on my work I still think it creeps in a bit. Probably in the spidery woman, sometimes thinly lined detailed areas and hopefully a mood and even tho I would place other artists ahead
of him in terms of obvious influence I certainly admire his rare singular vision and the fact that he created an iconic monster right up there with the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Anyway jump forward a number of years and
I'm traveling through Europe with my buddy Jason, having a great ol time. Going to art galleries, seeing punk rock shows, meeting folks. It was never on the agenda
but in the back of my head I was always thinking, if we get to Zurich I'm going to try and meet Giger.
At the time my friends band was touring Europe [the Doughboys] and we had hooked up with them and had travelled some with them. One of their fans,Andrea, who had been at a couple of shows lived in Zurich and we became friends and she said I could stay at her moms place if I wanted. Well I bid adios to my old friends in Innsbrook, Austria and jumped into my new swiss buddies car and off to Zurich I went.
I loved Zurich, all the old cobbly streets and chocolate. With a bit of sleuthing I found out where HR lived, tho I was told there was no way he would let me in his house, and made my way to his suburban home one day . Yep it was the one with the overgrown Charles Addams lawn, thank goodness , and I was warned away by a neighbour to stay away from the Giger place.
I buzzed his outer gate and what do you know, the door creaked open and his head slithered out.
"What do you want." he snarled in a thick swiss german accent.
I was from Canada and a big fan and I pulled my trump card, I knew someone he painted a few years back.
He looked at me for a while and then, abra cadabra, he opened the electric gate and I was in, approaching his front door and as nervous as heck. He made sure I knew that he didn't ordinarily let strangers in his house and I think I thanked him a zillion times.
The house was not a disappointment. It was wall to wall Giger paintings, stuff from Necronimicon ,Passages and New York City ect was everywhere. He shut the door and you were right there in his dark and fascinating world, spooky and thrilling.
And of course he was the most generous, sweetest , coolest guy.
His {ex?] girlfriend Mia showed up [who I remembered from the books] and Giger cracked open a bottle of a wine and we sat around drinking and talking . A package had just come from Deborah Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie. He pulled out all this new unpublished graphic story stuff he was working on and signed some books and posters that he gave me. We talked for quite a while about his work and he asked about me and then he took me on a tour of the rest of the house and more goodies including a giant Alien, and the room where his biomechanic furniture was.

I managed to pass my camera from my sweaty palms and he took a some pictures of me in the chairs. Also mangaged to get photos of his cat Mookie who I remembered from paintings. Unfortunately he didn't want me to take a picture of him but he took a polaroid of me for his photobook of friends, I thanked him for his genorisity and I walked out, pretty stunned and happy as heck. Thanks HR for letting me hang out and the great memory.
Have a good weekend folks.


Anonymous said...

Man, that's so great. I'm so happy you got to meet Giger. Thanks for sharing it with us too. I love all the great spook related posts too.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Steve Daye said...

I remember you telling this story, back when we designing on good old George and Martha! A great story then and a great story now! One of those memories you'll never forget. Is he still alive?

Kactiguy said...

Amazing story. Sounds like a great experience. I also dig the Poe tribute. Cool and nice illo. Have a great weekend.

Matt J said...

Amazing story - kudos for having the balls to go up to Giger's place & knock on the door! I was a big fan of Giger in my teenage years & was always fascinated by the glimpses of his home in the books. You are a lucky & priveleged guy to have such a welcome from the man.

Alina Chau said...

Great posting!! Cool story!!

dennis W said...

Wow! What a cool experience! I know a few Illustrators i would love to be able to visit like that. What a lucky guy. Of course, if you don't try, you don't do. -- and if you don't do, then why are we here?

Thanks for sharing!

Michael said...

What a jaw dropping story! You *sat* in that infamous chair! Har! Man oh man Drazen!

Pajara Pinta said...

waaaaaw.... nice to meet you in person and happy t'giving *delayed*...

take care!

Drazen said...

Thanks folks.
Yeah Steve he's still alive tho I really don't know what he's been working on but yeah its a terrific memory.
Hey Matt, yeah I caught him at the right time. I too remember seeing glimpses of the furniture and his house and being awed by it as a teenager so it was pretty amazing to be there.
Yeah Michael, I'm happy he snapped those pictures for me believe me.
Well a slightly younger me pajara ..thanks.

Elliot said...

What a great story!
Cheers mate.