The Hippogryph Files
In the dark and dim days of 1994, while browsing in Forbidden Planet, I discovered a strange set of cartoons entitled ‘The Hippogryph Files’. Printed on 12 outsize postcards (and including two business cards and a sticker), they were a series of black and white tales of extraordinarily strange and terrible things. There was a quiet, slightly ‘off’ and undramatic air to them that made them all the more frightening.
They had an immediate and profound effect on me.
The artist’s name appeared nowhere, as far as I could see, but there was an address on the packaging and for some reason I decided to write him or her a letter.
I’d never done this kind of thing before and about the only thing I knew was that I didn’t want to write a simple fan latter. So I wrote a sort of fictional letter as if from someone who might inhabit the world of the cartoons.
I was in the process of deciding to write a second novel and one of the cartoons (below) proved the initial spark of inspiration for it.
And so my first letter involved a few garbled ideas from what was to become the novel, written as if real, with no explanatory notes or annotations.
Unsure as to how to sign off, I chose the nomenclature “No.0054” which, while it had a mysterious anonymity to it, not to mention shades of The Prisoner, it was, in fact, the catalogue number on the spine of my VHS copy of Eraserhead. In time, I also created the fictional organisation Invagination Industries, inspired by the Merzbow EP Artificial Invagination; Invagination Industries even had a logo.
I didn’t write the letter to get feedback, or praise, it just seemed like the appropriate way to respond to ‘The Hippogryph Files’.
(copy of later missive from Invagination Industries)
A number of letters followed, involving arcane-looking diagrams and strange, disjointed warnings and statements. The artist even replied in kind, with equally undecipherable codes and non sequiturs.
Eventually, for reasons I can’t recall, I stopped writing the letters and that was that.
Sadly, today, and despite my searching, I can find none of the letters from the artist…
When I first gained access to the internet I tried to search for any information on ‘The Hippogryph Files’ but found nothing. Strange how something not appearing on the internet makes you feel as if it doesn’t really exist, and yet this felt oddly appropriate in this case. These were mine. I found them. No one else knew what they were.
Last week, on a whim, I tried again and while there isn’t much, I discovered these blog entries, and then the Wikipedia page on Patrick W. Welch, the artist; or as he sometimes called himself: ‘Patrick W. Welch, Painter of Hate’.
I was saddened to hear that he’d died, I loved the idea that he’d been out there all those years producing more of his work that I’d be able to hunt out, like some great, disconcerting treasure chest of ODD. If such treasure exists, I don’t know where… but do feel free to enjoy Mr. Welch’s work here shown and let it infiltrate your own lives as it did mine, let it start to make the ordinary world around you start to seem just that little bit stranger, perhaps more threatening… who knows what dreams these monochrome visions may foster…