Lionel Douglas was a troubled charming boy, a poetic rebel, a womanizer, a biker, a mechanic and engineer, an intellectual, a philosopher, a radical, a dealer. And, my father. My parents had split up by the time I was about 3 as I recall it, I would see him weekends and part of the summer until I was 8. He was a large figure all the same, I have mostly positive feelings associated with my memories of him and when he died in a motorcycle accident on July 6th 1979, it shattered me. A decade later when I turned 18, among the estate I inherited from him were a suitcase of negatives and piles of his writings. At first I didn’t do anything with them, but as I grew older I wondered more about all the things I didn’t know about him.
I had a memory of a parent from a child’s perspective, and I’m Aphantasic so what I do remember is largely narrative. What with human memory being fallible in the first place I have to assume mine is in the least less detailed. Informed by records and scrap books and stories people told me. Eventually I retrieved the negatives, photos and papers. I’ve also been collecting stories and thinking about the contrast between the father I remember and the picture of the man he was forming from all the things I’ve learned. A good friend to some, a bastard to others. Sometimes both.
Every time I meet someone who knew him or talk to family, I learn new things and gain a fuller sense of who he really was.
I started a version of this site over a decade ago, borrowing the title of a short film one of his university buddies made starring a fictional version of him. I scanned several sheets of his negatives and his typed copies of original poetry. Along with pages of a book of his work published by friends after his death. It was a good site and a fun title, ‘The Italian Machine‘, a reference to one of his favorite bikes.
But I decided a while ago it should have something more properly his. I didn’t act on that for a while, then the old site crashed. I was able to salvage the contents of it thanks to the way back machine, already had all the images and the text of the posts was still up on the internet archive. So I was able to copy that all for possible future utility.
I’m currently pondering what I’ll be doing; will post some of the sets I had up already for sure, probably re write or write new entries for them? I’ll probably start sharing my comics about this time here as well. So that’s the news, I’ll build in a subscription link here so you can get updates when there’s new posts! You could also sign up to my Substack here, I’ll be posting updates there about this project and all the other things I’m up to, fit to print.