‘Roland Topor was the modern enfant terrible of French art and letters. He was short and leprechaun-like, giving the impression of constant, untiring activity. He dabbled in films, produced art derived from Surrealism, and could seldom be accused of good taste. In 1962, he created the Panic Movement (mouvement panique), together with Alejandro Jodorowsky and Fernando Arrabal. Inspired by and named after the god Pan, and influenced by Luis Buñuel and Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty, the group concentrated on chaotic performance art and surreal imagery. Among the films made from Topor’s written work was Roman Polanski’s The Tenant (1976), which was recently reissued in 2006 with an introduction by the writer Thomas Ligotti. Topor also worked as an actor, his most famous part being Renfield in Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (1979).
‘His greatest success was as a macabre cartoonist. He used his work to illustrate his novels, plays and other writings, produced many volumes of graphics, and exhibited his work widely in galleries both in France and abroad. His drawings in many ways resembled the graphic novels of Max Ernst and the similarly grim work of the Alsatian artist Tomi Ungerer, but the humour was always there in the absurd situations he depicted, many based on fantastical images of the deeper associations of sex and erotica, others on pictures that linked mankind to the world of worms and insects or reptiles.
‘Although ebullient in public, it was known among his friends that he had black periods of extreme depression, and the bizarre fantasies that he drew and painted undoubtedly reflected a mind that brooded on death and decay and the many germs and viruses that live in our bodies. His novels tackled the same themes, cruelty and metamorphosis being depicted in a matter-of-fact, unemotional way, his characters Rabelaisian and his plots stretching the imagination to its limits. Coprophagy is a frequent theme and religion a favourite target in much of his work. Giving offence came so naturally to Topor that he was almost unaware of the shocked reactions he was likely to get, as for instance from the series of dialogues, accompanied by drawings, examining all the possible uses of a baby, starting by nailing one to your front door.
‘Toward the end of his life, Topor wrote the screenplay for the cultishly revered film Marquis (1989), directed by Henri Xhonneux and loosely based on the life and writings of Marquis de Sade. The cast consisted of actors in period costumes with animal masks, with a separate puppet for de Sade’s anthropomorphised “bodily appendage.” He also co-wrote and was the production designer of the innovative and popular animated film Fantastic Planet, directed by René Laloux. At the age of 59 Topor suffered a massive stroke and brain haemorrhage in 1997, having appeared until then in the best of health.’ — collaged from various sources
Roland Topor’s self-designed grave marker
Topor et moi: A Roland Topor Resource
Roland Topor Page @ Facebook
Books in English by Roland Topor
Roland Topor’s books @ goodreads
A Roland Topor Photo Gallery
Roland Topor posts @ Thomas Ligotti Online
‘Roland Topor, a Graphic Wit’ @ The New York Times
‘The Wilder Planet of Roland Topor’
‘Les Escargot (1965) was a collaboration between Roland Topor and director Renee Laloux, but it is Topor’s distinctive visual sensibility that dominates. Les Escargot is apocalyptic, teeming with allegory of self-perpetuated human destruction. Like in other works by Topor, the ordinary is blown up to monstrous and absurd proportions. Fed by plants stimulated by human tears, enormous garden snails run amok, destroying the cities.’ — Ashcan Magazine
‘What is man ? Man makes war, man kills man, man hunts, man is executed. Les Temps Morte (1966) is montage film mixing original drawings by Roland Topor and direction by Rene Laloux involving both original shots and stock shots that ironically analyze what man is.’ — worldnews
‘Roland Topor and René Laloux’s Fantastic Planet (1973) is a sci-fi epic like none you’ve ever seen. A 70’s euro-funk soundtrack backs the eerie psychedelic visuals of an alien world. On the fantastic planet, humans are kept as pets by the gigantic Oms, a blue-skinned humanoid species who live for thousands of years and have a highly evolved culture and technology. Revolutionary metaphors abound, and like much science fiction literature, but unlike most science fiction movies, the film is really about our contemporary situation despite the fantastical setting.’ — Justin Allen
Roland Topor: The Unrecognizable Genius Behind FANTASTIC PLANET
‘Roland Topor and Henri Xhonneux’s Marquis (1989) is an audacious rendering of the political, social and sexual manners of the ancien regime and the class division and social disruption that produced the French Revolution. Adapted from the writings of the Marquis de Sade, this witty film uses elaborate puppets in human form to act out erotic and sexual decadence. Marquis is an elegantly naughty film with wry, intellectual satire that plays out all manner of human desire.’ — J. Hoberman
Roland Topor in Herzog’s ‘Nosferatu’
Roland Topor  : Les archives de Radio Nova
Roland Topor, un petit film
Roland Topor et Jacques Sternberg au Café de Flore
100 Good Reasons to Kill Myself Right Now
by Roland Topor
1) Best way to make sure I’m not dead already.
2) It’ll throw off the last census.
3) They’re waiting on me down below to start the party.
4) They shoot horses, don’t they?
5) I’ll rise in the esteem of my peers.
6) I’ll no longer dread the millennium.
7) Just like Werther! They won’t call me ill-read anymore.
8) I’d make a fool of my cancer.
9) I’d make a liar of my horoscope.
10) To be my therapist’s ruin.
11) To get out of voting.
12) An infallible cure for baldness.
13) To make a fresh start!
14) Death ennobles: knighthood at last!
15) I’d feel less alone.
16) I’d be fêted next All Saints’ Day.
17) The cost of living rises, but death remains affordable.
18) Good way to find your roots.
19) Finally, a martial arts move I can manage.
20) To be green and fertilize the lawn.
21) To mark the day with a white stone.
22) Others could put my organs to better use.
23) To make way for youth.
24) At last, a starring role!
25) To take advantage of the exhibitionism inherent in dissection tables.
26) To taste the subtle delights of reincarnation.
27) The nightmare of leap years, over at last!
28) To give my body of work a moral dimension.
29) To make people think I’m honorable.
30) To turn this list into a last will and testament.
31) I’ll become a citizen of the world.
32) Euthanasia wasn’t made for dogs.
33) I’ll have the last word.
34) 67% of French people support the death penalty.
35) ‘Cause it’s a good way to quit smoking.
36) To simplify my duality: I’ll see things more clearly with only one of me left.
37) A deliverance less laborious than a delivery.
38) There’s nothing left to do.
39) I don’t want to aggravate my lack of social security.
40) To kill a Jew, like everyone else.
41) To join the silent majority. The real one.
42) To leave behind a widow simply bursting with youth.
43) I can’t live in worry now that my deodorant’s stopped working.
44) To dodge the general draft.
45) To preserve the mystery surrounding me.
46) To prove the neutron bomb can’t hurt me.
47) To lose weight without a diet, or even lifting a finger!
48) I insist on complying with the federal plan for staggered vacations.
49) I’m trying to spare someone else the unfortunate consequences of an assassination.
50) To save energy, coffee, and sugar.
51) So I won’t be ashamed to look in the mirror anymore.
52) What if I’m immortal? Might as well find out as soon as possible.
53) One less mouth to feed.
54) To prove to EVERYONE that I’m no coward.
55) To count how many people cry at my funeral.
56) To see, from the other side, if I’ve made it over.
57) Instead of tearing my gray hairs out one by one, might as well tear my head off all at once.
58) With a revolver: to be noisy after 10pm.
59) With gas: to savor the charms of that last cigarette.
60) By hanging: to turn an ordinary rope into a delightful good luck charm.
61) Under a train: to extend other people’s vacations.
62) With barbiturates: think I’ll sleep in tomorrow morning.
63) By electrocution: to shake things up a little.
64) By defenestration: to escape my fear of elevators.
65) I’ve heard death is an easy lay. I’m gonna have me some good times.
66) If I put my subscriptions on hold, I won’t miss a thing.
67) To be good with (tiny) animals.
68) To die the same year as Elvis.
69) To skip out on taxes.
70) To skip out on rent.
71) To stop snoring.
72) To come back in the wee hours and tug on my enemies’ feet.
73) To keep from ripping myself off as I get older, like de Chirico.
74) Because I’m an endangered species and no one is protecting me.
75) Because I’ve prepared a choice phrase for the final moment, and if I wait too long I’ll forget it.
76) To sever my umbilical cord once and for all.
77) To be the founder of a new style: Dead Art.
78) To watch the movie of my life at a very exclusive screening.
79) To see if there are any virgins left on the other side.
80) So they’ll deck me out when they lay me out.
81) Because I can’t wait to use the amusing epitaph I made up: GOOD RIDDANCE.
82) To see if paralytics will be healed on my tomb.
83) So the twentieth century will finally contain an important event.
84) To feast on the exquisite blood of young women, once I’m a vampire.
85) Because I’ve always wanted to speak a dead tongue.
86) So I can, quite strikingly, inform everyone of my position on suicide.
87) Because Paris just isn’t what it used to be.
88) Because Groucho Marx is dead.
89) Because I’ve read all the adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
90) Because weather forecasts let me down.
91) So others will follow my example.
92) To start a revolution.
93) To prove my skill, if I don’t miss.
94) For a change of friends.
95) For a change of scene.
96) To be above the law.
97) Because a well-done suicide is worth more than an average lay.
98) So I won’t die at a hospital.
99) So my blood will make a nice stain on a canvas.
100) Because I’ve got 1,000 good reasons to hate myself.
Drawings & paintings
p.s. Hey. ** Shane Christmass, Hi, Shane, good to see you. Yes, I got your email, and I meant too write back but my poor emailing skills got the worst of me. My pleasure, honor re: listing your book. That was a no brainer, so to speak. Great about your new book! I really look forward to it. ** Corey Heiferman, High five on the fellow topographic map love. Cool that those posts interested you. Well, not quite the same, but at a Nuit Blanche here a few years ago, Cai did a fireworks thing in close proximity to a recreation of Stockhausen’s piece where a number of circling helicopters ‘played’ a work by him, and they did bleed together a bit. Thanks about the gallery show. It opens tonight. I don’t like art openings, so I’m anxiously awaiting its demise. Paris is good shape if you spring for a ticket. Nice and chilly and the metro’s working again even. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Ha, swell quote. I jut now checked my email, and there is an email from you that was lodged in my spam folder for unknown reasons, so, yes, I have it, and thank you very much! ** Jeff J, Hi, Jeff! Sight for sore eyes and all of that! What a lovely time to be off Facebook. It is at its ultra-worst at the moment. Jeez, what an ordeal with your laptop. Glad it’s righted. I’m good. Yes, my novel has a French and a German publisher so far. And I’m ‘praying’ the US finally gets locked in ASAP, but we’ll see. I finished the dreaded ARTE TV script for now, so I have a much needed break for a month or two at least. I’m trying to finish my new GIF novel. It’s pretty close. There’s a gallery show here featuring some of my GIF fictions alongside the paintings of a French artist that opens tonight. Fundraising for Zac’s and my new film, still in the early stages. Dabbling with a new fiction idea. That’s the current deal, I guess. I hope the reading went well. How did it feel? I generally won’t read from in-progress work after a bad experience years ago, but I did read from my new novel before it was finished, and it went so well that it kind of pushed me to finish it. Hoping for something like the same for you. Sweet film program you set up there. I just made an Owen Land post for the blog. Great trio. I don’t believe I’ve seen that Brakhage. Wow, I need to. Good to see you, bud! ** Sypha, Hi. Ah, you’ve seen ‘TD,P’! Yes, it’s my favorite film of all time, in fact. A downer? Really, you think so? Ha ha. ** NLK, Hi, Nate! I’m good, thanks. Oh, wow, you interviewed Jodie Mack! I’ll be all over that pronto. Everyone, Remember that post I did a couple of days ago about the wondrous filmmaker Jodie Mack? Well, NLK aka Nathan Kouri interviewed her last year, and that should be quite a minds-meeting kind of deal, so maybe you should go read it, eh? Right here. Ah, interesting: the prospect of you teaching English here. Obviously, I urge you in that direction. It would be easier to talk Paris living in another context. Want to chat or Skype or something? Happy to. Short answer: all of central Paris is pretty liveable. There are preferred, monist desired areas of course. Integrating: depends on how integrated you want to be. I’ve lived here for almost 13 years barely speaking French, for instance, and I feel pretty integrated to the degree I want. Anyway, yeah happy to talk with you about that in more detail if you like. Let me know. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. For me Hatari was just a tiny, sort of interesting blip in a blip of interest in my brain pan, so I don’t think I even care enough to check out their album, to be honest. Nice blog you found there. Yeah, weird, remember when blogs like that were all over the place? Score. I didn’t even know Errol Morris published a book, so, no, I haven’t. There’s a very good film book shop right near my pad, so I’ll go see if they have it. Thanks! ** Bill, Hi, sir. New Pink Dots! Yeah that sounds very tasty. And ‘live’ makes it sound like a spot hitter. Cool, yeah, I’ll go indulge in that. Thanks a bunch. ** Okay. Roland Topor is a really strange and pretty great artist who was a big deal years aho and has been rather forgotten at least for the moment, so I thought I would do my part to up his thing just a little. See what you think. And see you tomorrow.