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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction

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Illustration by Sven Geier, design by Jo Obarowski and Rebecca Lysen.

HP Lovecraft would have been as surprised as anyone if he could have witnessed the tremendous posthumous triumph he and his work have achieved.

Thus leading Lovecraft biographer and scholar ST Joshi in the introduction to this suitably monstrous book. H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction was published in a new edition last year after first appearing in 2008 as part of Barnes & Noble’s Leatherbound Classics Series. My drawing of Dagon from 1999 adorns the silvered endpapers, and the reason for this belated mention is because I was only sent copies this week after moaning about not having seen a copy in a Tor.com post about the series. In truth the oversight was partly my own fault: one hazard of this line of work is that artwork is requested months (or even years) in advance of publication, so if the work in question is a reprint it’s easy to forget all about it as you get involved with other things.

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So anyway, this is a handsome volume of over a thousand pages, not quite leather, it’s more of a leatherette with the design blocked into it. Sven Geier’s cosmic illustration has been given an iridescent finish, and the copies I was sent have metallic silver on the edges as well as a purple ribbon which makes a better match with the colour scheme. The contents comprise all of Lovecraft’s solo fiction (no collaborations, in other words) from the juvenilia through to the non-fiction of his Supernatural Horror in Literature essay. In addition to the introduction there’s a short note from ST Joshi for each story. Needless to say, I’m very pleased to be associated with Lovecraft’s work in this way.

Anyone considered buying a copy should note that the book is currently cheaper at B&N than at Amazon. Also, complaints about typos would appear to apply to the earlier edition although I’ve not had a chance to read any of the stories.

My Dagon picture below appears here larger than it has done before. The drawing was done with a Biro pen, something I’ve always liked using, then tweaked slightly in Photoshop to blur the lines a little and bring out the highlights. I’m not sure now the tweaking was necessary so I may dig out the original at some point to see how it compares.

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Dagon (1999) by John Coulthart.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Heavy Metal, October 1979: the Lovecraft special
Cthulhu God
The monstrous tome

 


 

Posted in {books}, {design}, {horror}, {lovecraft}, {work}.

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9 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by tristan eldritch

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    I haven’t got around to picking this up yet, but having admired it in the shops, I think its a pretty handsome edition. Love the look of the spine, for some reason.

  2. #2 posted by Stephen

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    I was very moved by Harlan Ellison’s intro to ‘A Lovecraft Retrospective: Artists Inspired by HP Lovecraft’. It is sad to think that the understanding and compassion he showed to HPL would probably not have been reciprocated. But that’s another thread I guess.

    NIce work in the HPL Complete Fiction and good to see it preserved so finely.

    ps and to get completely off the subject in reference to the Monstrous Tome. Have you ever posted about Thomas Ligotti? What do you think of his work?

  3. #3 posted by Alfie

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    On a cursory scroll down, I thought the inner cover pages were standard old-school marbled pages, which I suppose is a compliment to it working within the overall book design.

    There’s a lot to be said for the soft flow and build up that can be got from the humble biro, great work.

  4. #4 posted by Thombeau

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    Beautiful!!

  5. #5 posted by Wiley

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    Its been years since I’ve looked at your portraits of the Great Old Ones. I feel somewhate foolish to admit this, but I had never noticed the smaller figures surrounding the main entity in question before. I’ll have to look through the other portraits to see what else I’ve missed.

    Stephen brings up an interesting point. Ligotti’s work is extremely uneven in my opinion, but so was Lovecraft’s for that matter, yet when either were in really in their zone though, their writings in those cases are beyond intelligent criticism- again, in my opinion. That said, a Coulthart interpretation of some scene or another from, say ‘Sect of the Idiot’ or ‘The Coccoons’ would be a luxuriantly strange sight.

  6. #6 posted by John

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    Stephen: I only have the Songs of a Dead Dreamer collection which I ought to go through again. When that came out I was more taken with Clive Barker’s in-your-face sex-and-monster stuff and T.E.D. Klein’s Machen & Lovecraft-inspired stories. (Klein is a writer no one seems to mention any more.) I think I’d be more amenable to Ligotti now.

    Wiley: I don’t leave myself much time to illustrate anything outside commissioned work these days. Anything along those lines would be more likely to derive from the steadily growing mountain of my own fiction I’ve been accumulating and which is still seeking a publisher. I’ll be talking about that in more detail at some point. In the meantime I’m enjoying being reticent: too many things these days get trailed and previewed to death.

  7. #7 posted by Dimitris

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    A beautiful piece of work. I need to seek it out (along with “A Lovecraft Retrospective: Artists Inspired by HP Lovecraft”). And I second the praise for T.E.D Klein, as I happened to read “The Ceremonies” recently. As a novel it has its’ flows, but I enjoyed the mood of creeping dread and unease immensely. Machen would probably approve.

  8. #8 posted by John

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    Thanks, Dimitris. The Ceremonies was padded out from a novella (which I haven’t read) that everyone seems to think was more successful. Dark Gods is the story collection to look for although it hasn’t been in print for some time.

 


 

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