City of Saints and Madmen


Jeff VanderMeer’s wonderful and award-winning fantasy tales of the sinister city of Ambergris are now back in print in the US from a major publisher. This is good to see, not only because the book is well worth your attention but also because I helped design the interior, providing title pages for the stories and designing and illustrating the whole of the ‘King Squid’ section. Fantasy is a meagre description for this book, it’s far more inventive and intelligent than the mass of works that labour under that description in the shops. Ditch your doorstop dragon sagas and give yourself a treat!

Filippo Morghen’s Voyage to the Moon


It’s a shame there isn’t more of this imaginative work from Filippo Morghen (1730–1777). In a series of etchings from around 1766 he presents the moon as a tropical world inhabited by the 18th century conception of New World savages. I especially like the hunter on his winged serpent (above) and the elaborate trap set to behead a wary beast (below). The explanatory text is from this print collection which also has large copies of the pictures.

Filippo Morghen was a member of a large family of artists. His brother Giovanni was a painter and printmaker and his son, Rafaello, was a printmaker who specialized in reproductive prints after Raphael and Leonardo. Filippo himself was a designer and printmaker. In addition to the present series on the theme of a voyage to the moon, Morghen is known for a series of plates detailing antiquities from Herculaneum and for views of the environs of Naples.

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