I considered discontinuing my reading of 24 Hour Party People by Anthony H. Wilson, “[b]ased on the original screenplay 24 Hour Party People by Frank Cottrell Boyce,” after p. 1 (“It’s a great, great city, but should develop it’s sense of humour, perhaps”). I ultimately did so at p. 8 (“ ‘”Inconstancy is my very essence,” says the wheel”). I then rapaciously speed-skimmed for the important bits.

You do realize how very much I idolize Peter Saville, Suede album-cover débâcle notwithstanding?

Pp. 57–60:

“Excuse me, Mr. Wilson, I’d like to introduce myself. I’m studying typography at Manchester Poly. I know who you are and that you do lots of things and if you ever need any graphics, I think you should use me.”

A phone number was given or taken. A connection made.

Thank God for Patti Smith. It wasn’t just Horses that changed Wilson’s life.

It was two months later that Peter Saville, a sort of twenty-year-old Bryan Ferry lookalike with searingly intelligent eyes, turned up at the Granada canteen to see Wilson.

Over a cup of GTV coffee, Peter showed Wilson a book on Jan Tschichold. He showed him the Penguin Crime covers from 1941, the constructivist play posters from the 1920s and the cover of the 1965 Hoffmann-LaRoche catalogue…. The utter commitment of this kid said soul brother. […]

“He’s great but useless. The brochure turned up three weeks after the exhibition we needed it for. Great brochure, though.” […]

Two trips to Peter’s sedate flat in Manc suburb Altrincham (upper-middle without much middle) to watch him arrange and rearrange black rectangles of thick paper on a big piece of yellow card…. Wilson retreated back from the door just in time to see Saville striding through the throng, with a big cardboard tube under his arm and mane full-on flowing.

“Jesus, Peter, what’s that?”

“It’s the poster.”

“But this is the gig [happening right now].”


Reasonable answer, thought the rapidly-calming Wilson. Peter’s aura of “the artist” had that effect.

The yellow-and-black constructivist masterpiece was unsheathed.

“What’s the point in bringing the poster now? This is the gig,” said Wilson.

“I know. I couldn’t get the right yellow.” […]

It was just so good. Yellow and black; a use of a Thirties æsthetic that was to catch on about nine months later, but rarely done as well in Paris or on Madison Avenue. And this was for the fucking Russel Club in Hulme. Genius gets forgiven damn easily.

Pp. 144–145:

“I have been asking myself a question and I want the sleeve to answer that question…. How many colours does it take to replace language, to replace the alphabet?” […]

Wilson had an edgy feeling. Colours. Special colours. Pantone fucking colours. Most people print colours by the four-colour printing process…. And Factory did that. But every so often Peter or one of his acolytes… asked for a special colour[, because] Factory’s designers did not trust the cyans and magentas to get together specifically enough to give them the exact bloody shade that their vision demanded….

With ten colours representing digits 0 to 9, you could make numbers 1 to 26 and reflect a Western European alphabet.

So that was that. They’d have this bloody picture of a bunch of flowers and some colour-coding instead of lettering. Sounded good. No one complained. No one ever did. Peter was good. That was enough.


The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2004.07.24 16:46. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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