Manfred doesn’t do much on Sunday (some say he doesn’t do much the rest of the week either!) so I thought I would take this opportunity to tentatively explore and illuminate the background to the characters in this story. This is an entirely organic blog and I very much fear that too many story options have arisen, mainly because of the parentage of the primary character and the eclectic fantasy world that exists inside my head.
As a general rule I paint for myself and write for other people (even if there are only a few!) so I feel it is important for me to explain, at least in part, where this story is going – if indeed it is going anywhere. Or even if I am going anywhere; now I could write a lot on that subject!
This blog originally started life as a spoof Facebook profile of a blatantly unbright henpecked reasonably young man who would write appropriately ridiculous statuses. I have since deleted the account, ditto the Facebook page I started later. I wanted to use a name some of my friends would recognise, and Manfred Wing has been around a long time, however this very fact means there are inherent problems associated with writing new material as there are obviously aspects of the person which I felt obliged to maintain.
To begin at the beginning (usually a good place to start!): When I began to paint and write seriously in the middle Seventies (the writing actually began earlier although all my earliest work has been lost) I used an alias. Initially he was called Wing, after the Jimi Hendrix song “Little Wing” (my own Little Wing appears in this story as a supernatural character who lives in a coffin but I am getting ahead of myself) and then very briefly as a number – I gave up the number in case I couldn’t remember what it was when I got older! As it has turned out a wise move! This alias and the art style associated with him/it faded away at the end of the Seventies, they were then both briefly resurrected at the end of the Eighties (more about this anon) before coming back more permanently at the beginning of this Century: he now has an artistic career independent of my own – although he doesn’t do a lot of work; I will have to have a word with him about that!
Now it gets complicated: at the end of the Seventies I stopped painting and began to explore myriads of different art styles and techniques – I actually went through my own Brit Art phase about fifteen years before Brit Art! – and have retrospectively assigned various aliases to many of these styles and disciplines. Something similar happened at the end of the Eighties when I was again briefly ahead of the game (in retrospect I am not sure what game) and was apparently the first person in England to approach scientists to work on collaborative projects. Nothing come of it of course as I went off in an entirely different direction and I only mention it for completeness. By and large I am either miles in front of everyone else or miles behind – I am never where I should be in life – sigh! (joke!).
The art world in England is desperately superficial, faddish and dysfunctional with, historically, a tendency to form groups and brotherhoods – the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and Brotherhood of Ruralists for example. Consequently I founded my own satirical one called the CIRCE BROTHERHOOD (Circe being the sorceress in the Odyssey which turned Odysseus’s crew into swine – incidentally Circe appears in other stories I write) with a membership of Gerald Shepherd (whoever he is!), Manfred Wing (ditto!), Simon King, Simple Simon (these two were originally one person but he suddenly fragmented for reasons best known to himself), Peter “Rabbit” White, Alan Hendricks and Paul Stuart Whitty. All of these represent different facets of my art, the last two being sculptors and not playing a part in any of my stories. All these artists have real world identities and have exhibited their work – Gerald Shepherd (obviously), Wing and Simple Simon a great many times. These characters are also presented to the world (or a tiny part of it at least!) as THE COUNTRY BOY COLLECTIVE or THE OLD AND UPTIGHT ARTIST CLUB.
In the Eighties I started to write stories about my aliases who were around at the time for the young daughter of some friends. The characters involved were Little Gerry (me – I get everywhere, much to the consternation of the others), Manny Wing, King Simon and Rabbit. Manny Wing was a young boy with a girl friend called Minny, a pet ferret called Freda and a passion for farmyard manure and cow pats. Simon was a pompous oaf, Rabbit was a shy collector and assembler of junk and Gerry was a bit of a prat – over the years nothing much has changed.
Some time later I started to write another set of stories based on these characters but with them now having superhuman powers. They were collectively called THE COUNTRY BOYS or THE FAMOUS FOUR AND A HALF.
Later still, and having now reached middle age, they began to have adventures as a team of Space Detectives.
To complicate things further, all the versions appear in my paintings as characters; as does Peter Panic (since 1984), although he is sometimes called Petronella Pan or Peter Pain. Peter Panic did appear in some of my stories replacing me and I looked on him as an older Manfred Wing.
Returning to this story which as I have already mentioned seems to be going in a dozen different avenues at once. I have merged different aspects of the various Manfred Wings (superhero, supernatural plus the naive and childlike) to form the narrator – which does mean the story readily migrates from the plausible to the ridiculous with alarming regularity.
As a very young child my imaginary friend was a ghost called Fred; he lived under the bed and I had to look behind the chest of drawers, wardrobe etc, every night to make sure he hadn’t brought any of his friends in. Every since that time I have been a scientist during the day and a spiritualist at night with no means of reconciling the two extremes. In the Descent of Manfred blog there is a (very) grown up version of Fred. She is currently in the cellar but I bet she wont stay there!
I also had an unfortunate passion for cinema monsters when I was a child. In my daydreams I was often a good vampire fighting criminals even though in my night dreams I had to escape from vampires by flying (it is an essential requirement for my heroes to be able to fly). In my stories I have always considered werewolves or wolf men to be transcendent and they are usually benign, especially in my paintings – I am hoping this is still the case in this story.
I have always loved animals and they have often played a prominent role in my fiction and visual art. It would be impossible not to include one in this story – and if I was going to have one I thought I might as well think big! Bring on the door to door salesmen!
I hope this has given at least a partial introduction to the characters in this story and also given a hint to how it might develop. Thank you so much for your interest.