William S. Burroughs was born 103 years ago this week. And yet his most famous book, Naked Lunch, has never been illustrated or filmed. Yeah there was that movie with the name, but it was more about Burroughs’ life, which was just punctuated with references from the novel. In its 60 years of existence, no one has bothered to visually represent all its ridiculous characters and terrifying imagery. So I recently reread it and drew some of the most interesting looking people and monsters and things, and I’ve grouped them together into this big full color family portrait.
WHO IS WHO:
Right at the top is Lee (Burroughs) speaking the first line of the book. In front of him are the two cops, Hauser & O’Brien. Next to them in the blue cape is The Great Slashtubitch. Beside him is A.J. the notorious Merchant of Sex, waving a cutlass and dressed as a condom clad cock. Behind him is Fats with his aquarium body from which he can serve the addictive Black Meat of the Giant Aquatic Centipede. And there’s a random prolapsed asshole crawling up his back. Behind Fats, with the out of focus face, is The Sailor. On the ground is a slug, writing about him in slime. In front of them, opening up the briefcase, is an albino Caid in the shape of a crab, just one of 20,000 Identical Replicants. Next to him is Salvador Hassan O'Leary (aka The After Birth Tycoon, aka Placenta Juan, aka Slunky Pete, aka KY Ahmed) dancing the Liquefactionist Jig in his suit made of bank notes. Beside him is a translucent foetal monkey. In front of them in the foreground is The Man Who Taught His Asshole To Talk, yelling at Medusa in a hat box. Behind the box is Violet the Purple-Assed Baboon, wearing Steely Dan III. Behind her is Bradley the Buyer, gnawing on a candy bar as his body turns to jelly and envelops a youth. On the far left is a Reptile, holding a scrotal egg. His arm is behind Leif The Unlucky, who once while undergoing surgery had a live monkey accidentally sewn inside of him. Behind him is Willy the Disk. Beside him, opening up the insulting hog coffin, is a Mugwump with its razor sharp beak of black bone used to fight over clients. Near him is a sacrificial youth in a crystal skull, ejaculating a rainbow as he dies. And beside him, dead center, is Doctor Benway with his surgical toilet plunger. I modeled him after an older Burroughs.