For over three decades, the House of Harley has produced comics, music and art from its studio in London, under the leadership of founder Harley R.
This long form interview by iestyn pettigrew provides a good overview of the House of Harley’s history to date.
Harley was a junior member of the British small press comics scene of the late 1980s: writing and drawing comic strips; helping out on the Fast Fiction stand at London comic markets; and publishing four issues of the anthology Ugly Mug which featured underground cartooning legends Mark Robinson, Tom Tiffin, Ed Pinsent, John Bagnall, Bob Lynch, John Watson, Steve Way, Denny Derbyshire, Spencer Woodcock, Chris Reynolds, Martin Millard, Carol Swain, Marc Baines, Daryl Cunningham and Davy Francis. A handful of copies from the original run are still available – enquire here.
In 2021 Ugly Mug returned after 30 years stuck in the Black Lodge. See contents and ordering info for Ugly Mug 5 and Ugly Mug 6.
Harley is a prolific sketchbook-filler and frequently posts highlights to this site, many of them enhanced by digital colour. If you find these too busy, you can home in on individual drawings on the studio’s Instagram feed.
For over 20 years Harley drew fellow commuters en route to work. He was an enthusiastic participant in the London life drawing boom.
A selection of sketches have been made available in a series of artbooks and many original sketchbooks and life drawings are also for sale for unreasonable prices. The House of Harley will accept commissions in money, food or blood. Enquire here.
Early experiments can be found on the original HoH site, www.houseofharley.co.uk.
Harley has contributed to various exhibitions over the years, including the Paintwork exhibitions (featuring art related to Mark E Smith and The Fall) organised by the Praxis Hagen gallery in Berlin, London and Hamburg in 2006 through 2009, fridge magnet exhibitions organised by Alban Low and life drawing shows organised by The Moon and Nude and Betty Frankenstien.
Harley has made occasional explosive entrees into the world of improvised music.
Mystery Dick, a collaboration with cartoonist Ed Pinsent, specialise in intense improvised drones such as ‘One Note Mind’ (available as a CD-R on vanity label Mr E Disks). The Dick’s proudest achievement, the unreleased album ‘Single Angel’, with heavenly vocals provided by the Chelsea Madrigal Group, is simply too exquisite for mere mortals to bear.
Pestrepeller is an noise punk collective formed around the core of Harley, Ed Pinsent (again) and Savage Pencil, sometimes expanding to include various talented collaborators. Pestrepeller’s best known work is ‘Isle of Dark Magic’, released in 2006 on Important Records to much acclaim.
You can purchase recordings Mystery Dick and Pestrepeller at www.mysterydick.com.
Harley was also caught moonlighting on various releases by North London band The Original Beekeepers. In 1998 he tried and failed to join The Fall. The closest he came was having his cover of the band’s He! Pep used as the intro tape for a gig broadcast on XFM.
Harley is occasional fill-in presenter on The Sound Projecting radio show on Resonance 104.4 FM, and has presented surveys of piano music, obscure rock’n’roll, Popol Vuh, The Residents, Sparks, the Beach Boys and The Fall, amongst others. He has also put pen to paper for The Sound Projector magazine, tackling subjects such as the singer/songwriter Daniel Johnston, Brian Wilson’s Smile, the Blue Oyster Cult, the Monkees, the Church of Euthanasia, and the joys of modern chart music.
Hi Harley R my name is Alice I am a student doing a project based on researching artists sketch books/ journals. I was wondering if you could give me some advice or tips for creating a interesting visual diary and any general recommendations