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Occupation: novelist & screenwriter
Jeff Lint (December 16, 1928 - July 13, 1994) was the author of some of the strangest and most inventive satirical pulp Science Fiction of the late 20th century. As well as writing satirical classics such as Jelly Result and Fanatique, he also created TV cartoon Catty and the Major and cult 70s comic The Caterer. Like his contemporary, Philip K Dick, he did not gain any widespread recognition until a movie adaptation of one of his stories (The Jarkman) appeared shortly after his death. He was the first person to steal Michael Moorcock's 'Multiverse' idea and the first to point out to Jack Vance how unfortunate the title Servants of the Wankh really was.
Lint's reputation has undergone a renaissance in recent years, largely due to the overwhelming popularity of the Steve Aylett biography, Lint.
Lint's first published work, submitted under the name 'Isaac Asimov'
Born in Chicago in 1928, Jeff (or Jack) Lint submitted his first story to the pulps during a childhood spent in Santa Fe. His first published effort appeared in a wartime edition of Amazing Stories because he submitted it under the name 'Isaac Asimov'. 'And Your Point Is?' tells the story of an unpopularly calm tramp who is pelted every day with rocks, from which he slowly builds a fine house. The story already reflected the notion of 'effortless incitement' that Lint would practice as an adult. 'Jack was fantastic,' says friend Tony Fleece. 'Went around blessing people - knew it was the most annoying thing he could do. A dozen times, strangers just beat the hell out of him.' Lint perfected the technique when he stumbled upon the notion of telling people he would pray for them.
Lint's first novel was published by Dean Rodence's Never Never company in New York. The relationship between Rodence and Lint was one of complete mistrust, rage and bloody violence. When submitting work in person, Lint insisted on appearing dressed as some kind of majorette. 'He was a large man and clearly wasn't happy at having to do this,' explains Fleece. 'He blamed Rodence, was resentful. I still don't know where he got the idea he had to dress that way when handing his stuff in.'
The first novel with Never Never was One Less Person Lying, in which Billy Stem must tell the truth or be transformed into the average man. Rodence persuaded Lint to change the title word 'Person' to 'Bastard'. On a night of pre-press jitters, Rodence then partially re-wrote the final sections of the book so that Stem puts on a space suit and goes berserk, killing an innocent stranger with a rock. The book was published as simply One Less Bastard. In the several years of their association Lint never forgave Rodence for the incident, and often alluded to it by repeated use of the word 'bastard' when speaking to him.
Around the time of his second published novel Jelly Result, Lint met his first wife Madeline, who was attracted to him by a knife scar that led from below his left eye to his mouth. This was in fact a sleep crease and Lint managed to maintain the mistake by napping through most of the marriage. But after five months a bout of insomnia put paid to the relationship and left Lint with nothing to occupy his time but his writing - luckily for the world of literature, as he produced some of his best work at this time, including Nose Furnace and I Eat Fog, which both appeared on Rodence's new Furtive Labors imprint, and Slogan Love with Ace. Turn Me Into a Parrot took issue with the fundamentalist notion that the world was only a few thousand years old and that dinosaur bones had been planted by god to test man's faith. Lint asserted that the world was only fifty years old and that the mischievous god had buried sewers, unexploded bombs and billions of people.
By the sixties Lint's reputation was established firmly enough for several feuds to develop with other equally unknown authors, the main one being Cameo Herzog, creator of the Empty Trumpet books, who once conspired with Rodence to kill Lint with a truck. (The story is unclear, but it seems that after an unsuccessful try at Lint, they killed or injured the wrong man and had to make reparation to the mob.) The levels to which this feud imploded were difficult for outsiders to understand. Lint and Herzog were once seen glaring silently at each other for seven hours in a freezing lot, each holding a differently coloured swatch of velvet.
In the mid-sixties, several of Lint's early books were also being re-published by Doubleday and New English Library, and the startled Lint rushed to exploit his raised profile, pulling on a skirt and bursting into the offices of Random House with a proposal he dreamed up on the spot. Banish m'Colleagues would tell the story of a bull elephant on its way to the elephant's graveyard, only to find it full of ambulances. The ivory-white confusion of the landscape is a classic Lint image, as is that of Lint being ejected from Random House by twelve security guards.
By the early 70s, Lint was at a low, beaten down by a stint in Hollywood that saw his screenplays repeatedly diluted by studio hacks. He felt justly proud of his scripts for Kiss Me, Mister Patton (eventually filmed as Patton) and Despair and the Human Condition (eventually filmed as Funny Girl).
The mid-seventies also saw Lint's incredible foray into the world of action comics with his creation of The Caterer. This unfathomable title lasted nine issues, during which the hero was never seen to cook or prepare food in any way. The Caterer's wordless shooting spree in Disneyland in the final issue was as ill-judged as it was relentless, and its blithe use of certain copyrighted characters sank the publishers in legal defense costs.
After a second marriage, the Felix Arkwitch trilogy, and short stints in London, Paris and Mexico, Lint returned to the New Mexico of his childhood and produced the first book of his Easy Prophecy series, Die Miami, which many say was a decoy for more interesting work as yet unearthed. He lived there until his death in 1994, since when Lint scholars have hunted for the gold-dust of lost stories, endlessly analysing the last novel Clowns and Locusts, his thankfully incomplete attempt at autobiography, The Man Who Gave Birth to His Arse, and his whispered final words, which seem to have been 'There's no marrying a cat.'
Jeff Lint is buried in a Taos graveyard, his headstone bearing the epitaph: 'Don't think of it as a problem, but as a challenge which has defeated you.'
Jelly Result (Doubleday, 1955)
- One Less Bastard. Never Never, 1946.
- Jelly Result. Doubleday, 1955.
- Slogan Love. Ace, 1957.
- Cheerful When Blamed. Rich & Cowan, 1957.
- Nose Furnace. Furtive Labors, 1958.
- I Blame Ferns. Olympia Press, 1959.
- Mask of Disapproval. Rich & Cowan, 1961.
- I Eat Fog. Furtive Labors, 1962.
- Turn Me into a Parrot. Doubleday, 1962.
- Prepare to Learn. Lancer Books, 1966.
- Dragons of Aggrazar. Doubleday, 1970.
- Lint: a Collection. Phair Inc, 1973.
- Rigor Mortis. Fairleigh University Press, 1973.
- The Stupid Conversation. Doubleday, 1974.
- The Caterer. Pearl Comics, 1975.
- Fanatique. Doubleday, 1979.
- Every Word at Once: Collected Plays of Jeff Lint. William Hobart Press, 1985.
- The Phosphorus Tarot of Matchbooks. Doubleday, 1988.
- Die Miami. Doubleday, 1990.
- Doomed and Confident. Doubleday, 1991.
- Clowns and Locusts. Doubleday, 1994.
- Zero Learned from Nero. Unpublished.
- The Man Who Gave Birth to His Arse. Unpublished.
Also featured in:
- Lint, Jeff, Alan Rouch, Marshall Hurk, et al. The Belly of the Belly: Belly Stories and Apocrypha. Leffa, 1981.
For more information see: The Caterer Main Article
The company-killing 9th issue of The Caterer
"I button myself against advice and leave the house," smirks Jack Marsden, emerging into primary yellow sunshine. He was a singular character Lint who, at a loose end in the mid-seventies, was hired by the fledgling comics company Pearl to come up with a launch title. Finding fewer compromises here than in his brief foray into Hollywood in the late sixties, Lint seems to have taken to the comics scene with the total absorption he had given his early books.
His main contribution to the short-lived Pearl Comics was the baffling action strip The Caterer. Illustrator Brandon Sienkel worked with Lint in those heady days:
"The Caterer was a strange one - he didn't have any special powers, he was this blond grinning college kid as far as I could make out. He sometimes pulled a gun. There just didn't seem to be [any rhyme or reason]... the character would fly into a rage about things. But it was strangely hypnotic, I must say. We had fan mail."
One such missive, printed in the "Your Yell!" letters page of issue 4, reads:
"Dear Caterer, I love your adventures and want to be like you. How can I be the Caterer? I said to my friends your words 'Don't trouble me' and they beat me up on Monday. But I think this is all part of becoming The Caterer."
The sign-off at the end reveals the letter to have been from a wide-eyed Martin Amis. All the more disturbing is that he would have been 26 at the time.
The Major's vortex of release. This long scene caused epileptic fits among some viewers.
Lint's strange cartoon Catty and the Major was originally intended as a time-slot replacement for Rocky & Bullwinkle. However, the show proved so weird and disturbing it was pulled after only four episodes.
The broadcast episodes were:
The shows were broadcast in 1965, causing sometimes violent reactions among its young viewers. Catty and the Major has never been outdone for cartoon weirdness.
A large collection of academic material has been generated around the meaning of the four broadcast episodes, plus the five or six unbroadcast scripts. There also exists a cult of people who dream whole episodes which are not the broadcast or written episodes, known as 'Catty dreamers'. Some essays analysing it all are collected in Can't You Tell? It's Everything: Essays on Catty and the Major by Robin Lowman (ed) (Penn State, 1999).
Lint was responsible for a notorious first draft of Patton and was thrown off the 2001 lot for suggesting the Starchild should have tusks like a walrus. He gave everyone the heeby-jeebies with his underground 'clown-eats-chicken-in-basement-under-bare-lightbulb' short The Gloom is Blinding - a particular influence on the work of Chris Cunningham - and seems to have had some involvement in the script of a Japanese monster movie, All-Out Humble Mid-Air Attack.
Many of his books have been optioned in Hollywood, including the patently unfilmable Nose Furnace, the Arkwitch trilogy, and The Caterer comic, but the only one to make it onto screen was the Jarkman story.
No matter what his success, or otherwise, Lint was well-versed enough in the ways of Hollywood to spot incidents of uncredited remakes, a vice he termed 'the Great Texas Dynamite Chase/Thelma and Louise Syndrome'.
Steve Aylett's biography of Lint
In 2007, Snowbooks published Steve Aylett's authoritative biography of Jeff Lint, imaginatively titled Lint. The book was hailed by Alan Moore as "a cultural unearthing to equal those of Philip K Dick or Harry Stephen Keeler... the literary biography of the year" and Michael Moorcock called Aylett "The most original voice on the literary scene."
Really, we're not making this bit up.
In all good bookshops from March 15th 2007, and still available here in the far-flung future of 2018, buy your copy now!
"Steve Aylett has made a career out of redefining the boundaries of science fiction -- and sanity. Lint is easily his best and most sustained absurdist work to date." - Barnes & Noble Spotlight Feature
"Aylett crams more ideas into one sentence than you'll find in all the novels on the New York Times bestseller list put together... And as much as the book is hilarious and fun, it's also a spiky, fierce indictment of the publishing industry, Hollywood, bureaucracy, comic books, fandom and pretty much anything else that crosses Aylett's path." - Bookmunch
"Can only enhance Aylett's steadily growing reputation as one of the most original voices in contemporary science fiction." - Fortean Times
"Aylett's previous books have flourished in undiscovered countries of the mind. By colonizing our consensual reality for the first time with Lint's tale, he's proven he is an unstoppable master of space and time - much like Lint himself." - Paul DiFilippo
"Lint offers some of the most perfectly amazing sentences and paragraphs that are likely to go into your eyes, ever. Aylett/Lint is a clearly a phenomenal talent." - Trashotron
JeffLint.com - Official Fansite [Archived 14/02/2005]
Catty and the Major clips at YouTube
Give, Take & Take: An examination of Jeff Lint's The Crystalline Associate