On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer

The first time I saw the internet was a complete revelation.
One summer’s day around ’96 I was at the seaside home of an erotic writer, who also happened to be a pioneer of the web. He had invited me to see his new Apple Mac – “his wonderful machine” and the astonishing  ‘Internet’.
Through a fug of heavy cigarette smoke I gazed at his magic lantern, at something called a ‘website’!
“Surely they can’t show that ??” I gasped as we looked at some dubious page.
I was reminded of the famous lines of Keats poem, ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’ :-

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies 
When a new planet swims into his ken; 

I could see that the rules had all changed. We could now write and depict virtually what we wished. Oh, sure, the webhost was in between but they were usually quite liberal, hippy and unintrusive . And kinky art was liberated, as was a lot more. No longer did I need to worry whether my drawings would be published because I could be the publisher. (Though I still always self-censor I don’t know why …for reasons of ‘taste’?)

Censorship had almost always existed in some shape or form until the internet. My earliest published drawings were all made with a dark cloud hanging over them – “will the publisher accept this?” “Can I get away with this? ”
There were in fact no clear guidelines, which would have helped enormously. A lot depended on factors such as which party was in power or whom you were working for and we would all try to make sense of unclear directions. A mainstream magazine had to comply with the news vendor’s policies of what they were comfortable to put on sale. Smaller fetish magazines which allowed greater freedom could only be sold in sex-shops which were regularly raided by the authorities and restocked the next day. The extortionate mark-up on the goods meant they were never seriously out of pocket.
So life continued in a haphazard way.

The point of this rambling is that for the past few years we have seen greater regulation coming in as the Internet has taken over our lives and become much more portable, so the content of the web has become a much great concern. This week I was suspended from Twitter for the image above*, one of a series I drew many years ago for OWK.  My fault, as I should not have been using such a “violent” image for my public icon, which is required to be squeaky-clean. Make of that what you will. But it has made me reflect on how much we take for granted. At my age I can compare this to what came before and take it philosophically – oh well, just going back to the way it was.
I don’t know how it will all play out but I remember clearly how one day pre-internet I tore up some drawings in frustration as I thought I was doomed to only ever get a single page in an obscure magazine that would never reach a wider public or earn me more than a few pennies. It is no exaggeration to say that without this disruptive technology coming along when it did, I might never have continued.

* New twitter account is @sardaxs

10 thoughts on “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer

  1. Yes it is amazing how the tide is receding. We came so far. We fought for what we have and yet lost so much. I still wonder if we won and lost all with the same tide.

    I know I for one am glad you did continue. You know you had a massive influence on my world. Just think how many more your art inspired.

    Twitter are idiots! For a modern company they are not very progressive.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I share your concern and have lived long enough to have seen what you describe. Not only has censorship increased but it has accelerated as internet usage has increased. This is a clarion call for everyone that believes in free speech to stand and fight for ALL speech. If we let those who we disagree with to be silenced we all will be silenced. I hope to see you back on Twitter soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t believe such a beautiful drawing was grounds for banning you from Twitter. I am happy you are OK, I miss your many posts and your generous sharing of your gifts.


  4. Oh my… True Gentleman, The one and only Sardax,
    our great artist and published author , Really miss you so much on Twitter. Hope you sort out the suspension and return soon. You always shine 24/7 forever. Best Wishes.


  5. I’d noticed you’d been suspended and wondered what for? … Reading the above post, I am baffled. There’s far, far more explicit or dubious things posted on Twitter which seem to be let to stand. Was it simply because you’d used it as an avatar specifically? — I too hope you’ll be able to return to Twitter soon.


  6. I just went to look for your page on Twitter and got the ‘account suspended’ notification. This is absurd! I’m furious on your behalf. We are forced into second-guessing ourselves on social media and it’s wearing. Congratulations on being so philosophical about it – you are far more charitable than I am!


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