Self Made Hero logo

The Good Inn

Words by Black Francis and Josh Frank

Art by Steven Appleby

Hardback, 236 pp, £14.99

In 1907, the French battleship Iéna was destroyed when a nitrocellulose-based weapon propellant it was carrying became unstable with age and self-ignited, killing 120 people. A year later, La Bonne Auberge became the earliest known pornographic film, depicting an intimate encounter between a French soldier and an innkeeper's daughter. Like all films at the time, and for decades afterwards, it was made with a highly combustible nitrocellulose-based film stock. Loosely based on historical events, The Good Inn follows the lone survivor of the Iéna explosion as he makes his way through the French countryside. He falls into a strange love affair with an innkeeper's daughter and, even more deeply, into a volatile counter-universe where war and art exist side by side. But The Good Inn is also the very real story of the people who made the world's first pornographic film. Francis and Frank weave together real historical facts to recreate this lost piece of history, as seen through the eyes of a shell-shocked soldier who finds himself that film's subject and star. Through his journey, we explore the power of memory, the simultaneously destructive and restorative power of light, and how the early pioneers of pornography helped shape the film industry for generations to come.

Black Francis

Black Francis (born Charles Thompson and aka Frank Black) is the founder, singer, guitarist and primary creative force behind the acclaimed indie rock band the Pixies. Following the band's break-up in 1993, he embarked on a solo career under the name Frank Black. He re-formed the Pixies in 2004 and continues to release solo records and tour as a solo artist, having readopted the Black Francis stage name in 2007.

Josh Frank

Josh Frank is a writer, producer, director and composer. He is the author of Fool the World: The Oral History of the Band Called Pixies and In Heaven Everything Is Fine: The Unsolved Life of Peter Ivers and the Lost History of New Wave Theatre. Frank has worked with some of the most innovative musicians, filmmakers, producers and artists in the entertainment industry, including Black Francis, David Lynch, Mark Vonnegut and Harold Ramis. He has interviewed more than four hundred of America's most notable names in show business for his books and screenplays. In his spare time, he runs his mini urban drive-in movie theaters in Austin, Texas, and Miami, Florida.

Steven Appleby

Steven Appleby is an absurdist. He is the creator of comic strips for newspapers, a radio series for the BBC, a musical theatre show, and the animated television series Captain Star. He has published over twenty-five books, and his paintings and drawings have appeared in numerous gallery exhibitions and, notably, on the Pixies’ album Trompe Le Monde. He lives, works and daydreams among his unusual family in London.


"A fascinating and moving meditation on the science that could turn life into light and make moments immortal."
"This is a gorgeous, chaotic book."
— The Guardian
"[The Good Inn] wears its research into cinema and French history proudly, conducting its narrative with sweetness and elegance."
— Q Magazine