Scarfolk is a fictional northern English town created by writer and designer Richard Littler, who is sometimes identified as the town mayor, L. Ritter. First published as a blog of fake historical documents parodying British public information posters of the 1970s, a collected book was published in 2014, and the Scarfolk Annual was released in 2019.
|Created by||Richard Littler|
Scarfolk, which is forever locked in the 1970s, is a satire not only on that decade but also on contemporary events. It touches on themes of totalitarianism, suburban life, occultism and religion, school and childhood, as well as social attitudes such as racism and sexism.
Scarfolk was initially presented as a fake blog which purportedly releases artefacts from the town council's archive. Artefacts include public information literature, out-of-print books, record and cassette sleeves, advertisements, television programme screenshots, household products, and audio and video, many of which suggest brands and imagery recognisable from the period. Additionally, artefacts are usually accompanied by short fictional vignettes which are also presented as factual and introduce residents of Scarfolk. The public information literature often ends with the strapline: "For more information please reread."
The aesthetic is utilitarian, inspired by public sector materials in the United Kingdom such as Protect and Survive.
Littler has said "I was always scared as a kid, always frightened of what I was faced with. … You’d walk into WHSmith... and see horror books with people’s faces melting. Kids’ TV included things like Children of the Stones, a very odd series you just wouldn’t get today. I remember a public information film made by some train organisation in which a children’s sports day was held on train tracks and, one by one, they were killed. It was insane. … I’m just taking it to the next logical step."
In January 2014, the London Evening Standard published an article by Charles Saatchi, which accidentally included the cover of a Scarfolk book called Eating Children: Population Control & The Food Crisis instead of the intended Jonathan Swift publication A Modest Proposal (1729).
In July 2018, a parody poster with the slogan "If you suspect your child has RABIES don't hesitate to SHOOT" was featured in the UK government's in-house magazine, Civil Service Quarterly, as part of a feature about the history of government communications.
Scarfolk has received positive reactions from the public and media in the United Kingdom and abroad. GQ Magazine called it one of "The 100 Funniest Things in the History of the Internet". Reviews and interviews with Littler have appeared in publications such as Creative Review, The Independent, The Telegraph, Stylenoir, and The Honest Ulsterman, and have been featured by popular online sites such as Boing Boing and Dangerous Minds.
|16 Oct 2014|
|Followed by||Scarfolk Annual|
A book called Discovering Scarfolk, which tells the story of a family trapped in the town, was published in October 2014 by Ebury Press. It is a guide to all aspects of Scarfolk and covers the "frenzied archive of Daniel Bush, whose sons 'disappeared' in Scarfolk in 1970." Littler has said that the book "attempts to guide you through the darkness by making light of the contradictions and it promises not to unnerve you. Well, not too much anyway."
Boing Boing's co-editor Cory Doctorow said "[Discovering Scarfolk] looks to be absolutely genius." Digital Arts reviewed Discovering Scarfolk favorably with "We've seen so many blogs turned into books that it should probably be its own genre, but Discovering Scarfolk is one of the few to stand on its own and deserve to be more than a ill-conceived Christmas present." Starburst gave Discovering Scarfolk nine out of ten stars, calling it "a hilarious novel filled with so-creepy-it’s funny illustrations and a relentlessly silly back story."
In his review of The Advisory Circle's From Out Here (2014), musician DJ Food remarked both From Out Here and Discovering Scarfolk define "a good portion of the visual stimulus associated with the Hauntological genre."
|17 Oct 2019|
|Preceded by||Discovering Scarfolk|
A follow-up book to Discovering Scarfolk titled Scarfolk Annual was published on 17 October 2019.
- Littler, Richard. "Scarfolk Annual". HarperCollins. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
- "Gaffe as civil service magazine prints poster telling parents to shoot rabid children". Sky News. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
- Anorak (25 April 2014). "Inside Scarfolk: An Interview With The Mayor Of Dystopia UK, Richard Littler". Anorak.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-10-14.
- "Saatchi is Scarfolked - Imperica - arts, technology, and media magazine". Imperica. 30 January 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-10-18. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
- "Government admits rabies poster gaffe". BBC News. 21 July 2018.
- Jeff Johnson; David Roth; Drew Magary; Mark Byrne; Andrew Richdale; John Surico; Alex French; Jennifer Schwartz & Lu Fong (May 2013). "The 100 Funniest Things in the History of the Internet". GQ Magazine. Retrieved 2014-10-14.
- Mark Sinclair (27 March 2013). "Creative Review - Have you been to Scarfolk?". Creative Review. Archived from the original on 27 April 2015. Retrieved 2014-10-14.
- Simon Usborne (17 April 2013). "How to wash a child's brain: Designer Richard Littler creates fictional world based on terrifying public service films - Features - Films - The Independent". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-10-14.
- Beverley Turner (25 April 2013). "It's time to toughen up kids. Start terrifying them 'Scarfolk' style - The Telegraph". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-10-14.
- Stylenoir (10 June 2014). "Check out Scarfolk Council if you haven't already. - Stylenoir Magazine". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-10-14.
- Darran Anderson (June 2014). "The Creeping Terror Of Childhood". The Honest Ulsterman. Retrieved 2014-10-14.
- Cory Doctorow (23 April 2013). "Wyndhamesque missives from Scarfolk, an English horror-town trapped in a 1969-79 loop - Boing Boing". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2014-10-14.
- Martin Schneider (23 April 2013). "Welcome to Scarfolk, the most twisted English village of the 1970s". Dangerous Minds. Retrieved 2014-10-14.
- Angus Montgomery (6 October 2014). "We Like: Discovering Scarfolk". Design Week. Retrieved 2014-10-14.
- "Discovering Scarfolk: Amazon.co.uk: Richard Littler: 9780091958480: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2014-11-02.
- Carpenter, Caroline (25 November 2013). "Ebury to publish Scarfolk story". The Bookseller. Retrieved 2014-11-02.
- Neil Bennett. "Discovering Scarfolk is a mock 70s guidebook with creepy, funny posters and book covers". Digital Arts. Retrieved 2014-10-14.
- Littler, Richard (16 October 2014). "Why the 1970s was the most terrifying decade - Telegraph". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-11-02.
- Cory Doctorow (14 August 2014). "Scarfolk: creepy blog will be an amazing book - Boing Boing". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2014-11-02.
- Cory Doctorow (16 October 2014). "Scarfolk: creepy blog is now an amazing book - Boing Boing". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2014-11-02.
- Fortune, Ed (22 September 2014). "DISCOVERING SCARFOLK". Starburst. Retrieved 2014-11-02.
- "The Advisory Circle's 'From Out Here' album". DJ Food. 15 December 2014. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
- "The Scarfolk Annual: Amazon.co.uk: Richard Littler: 9780008307011: Books". Amazon.co.uk. 17 October 2019. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
- "Sanctioned "Scarfolk Annual" On Its Way". downthetubes.net. 8 August 2019. Retrieved 18 October 2019.