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Tilson, Jake

(1958-    ) UK artist, graphic designer and author whose early work reflects various influences, including punk rock and underground Comics, perhaps primarily 2000 AD. Some of the graphic artists and painters who contributed to and/or influenced New Worlds in the 1960s may as well helped inspire Tilson's use of sf narrative motifs and image clusters in the creation of his "xerox books". They include R B Kitaj (1932-2007), himself influenced by Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008); Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005) and Pamela Zoline, partly through her editing with John T Sladek of Ronald Reagan: The Magazine of Poetry (1968, 2 issues). His near-contemporary John Coulthart has similarly laid narrative threads through his own horror- and fantasy-influenced work, though Coulthart has not followed Tilson's marked and reiterative use of collage or collage-like constructions, some so densely fractured that they baulk (as they seem intended to) any easy narrative simplifications: Equipoisal standoffs are more frequent than outcomes. The end result is a kind of samizdat Fantastika, transgressive, urban, secretive, choked with cul-de-sacs and abysms.

Often through his own publishing house, Tilson began to release work of genre interest with Light and Dark (graph 1979); The Descent of the Celestial Dogs (1979 chap), an Absurdist SF description of an Invasion of UFO's; and Warszawa Circa 1999 (1979 chap), his first vision of a Near Future world savaged by something like World War Three (see Holocaust; Post-Holocaust). The V Agents (graph 1981), which is almost wordless, may be his most sustained and vivid visual presentation of a world under assault, though The Terminator Line (1991 chap), a clearly narrated story, is perhaps more impressive. The venue is Manhattan (see New York); the line itself, seemingly the consequence of some governmental "accident", crosses the island horizontally, and acts on those who transgress it like a disorienting world-fracturing Drug, a boundary between something like consensual reality and something like the most dreadful of futures. [JC]

Jake Tilson

born London: 14 February 1958

works (selected)


Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 01:36 am on 3 July 2022.