The Holy Barnacle of Failure

Gwladys Street sent me this – it is, as you can probably see, on one of the pillars on the coal jetty at Greenwich Power Station, and not particularly unusual in itself – there’s quite a lot of ‘sticker art’ around these days. Most of it’s pretty inane – there was some under the A102M flyover recently that was so dull I actually wondered why someone had gone to the trouble of creating it.

But this one’s curious. It’s a scene from a not-even-cult-at-the-time 1970s strip by the doomed comic publisher Pearl, which appears to be enjoying a comeback among underground comic readers – and writers.

The artwork is a real blast back to the seventies but I’d never heard of this guy – or, indeed the company. Surely a
creation as splendid as the world’s crappest superhero, who was dreamed up by bored ex-beatnik cartoonist down on his luck seemed almost too meta to be true.

I found myself fascinated by the work of this guy, Jeff Lint. Clearly a misspent childhood reading comics had not been mis-spent enough, for I had failed to read…

The Caterer.

A character of such depth, such force, such mercurial energy, such sagacity, that Pearl Comics gambled their very existence on the success of his adventures, dreamed up by eccentric genius Jeff Lint.

Part Beat-visionary, part wise-man, part braindead, this guy seems to have reinvented the world of comics, flown as high as printing techniques of the seventies could take him, discovered that like Icarus he’d flown too high, and tumbling back down to earth entered into a spiral of doom not dissimilar to the fate of his own creation. A lengthy legal dispute following an episode where the Caterer runs amok in Disneyland (I believe the few copies of that particular issue – Issue 9, in case you happen to have a copy knocking around the attic – that weren’t burned by The Mouse are now fetching stupid money on certain auction websites) saw the end of Lint, his misunderstood character and Pearl Comics themselves.

It’s a tragic fable of wretched excess, misplaced ambition and human frailty dubbed by Alan ‘Watchmen’ Moore as ‘ the holy barnacle of failure,’ so it seems only right to have a reminder of it encrusted on a pillar to be washed by the Thames every high tide.

Steve Aylett – you made me look.

I might just even have to read the book and start a campaign for a screening of the documentary of Lint’s life at the Picturehouse. For as the Caterer says:

Reading time is like sticking a knife in the river.

Wise words indeed.


the attachments to this post:

The caterer
The caterer


2 Comments to “The Holy Barnacle of Failure”

  1. Gwladys Street says:

    Thanks for finding out a bit more about this unusual embellishment that, given its inaccessibility, seems likely to be around for some time.
    Although the bottom of the column is out of the water at the lowest of low tides, the artwork, which is about 2 metres in diameter, seems to be about 10 metres up. This begs my question as to whether the Caterer’s curator used a ladder or a boat to put it in place?

  2. Bill Ectric says:

    After reading Jeff Lint’s “Chest Deep in My Own Belly” I ate nothing but lemons for a week.