{ feuilleton }


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


The Thing: Artbook


It was just over a year ago that I was asked to contribute to The Thing: Artbook, and the thing itself (so to speak) turned up in the post a few days ago. This is a large, heavyweight volume of 400 colour pages, stuffed to the slavering gills with fanged abominations (and more than a few Kurt Russells), a suitably excessive tribute to an excessive film.


Publishers Printed In Blood have previewed a fair amount of the artwork over the past year but the variety of interpretations of John Carpenter’s (and, lest we forget, John W. Campbell’s) monsters is quite overwhelming. After wondering how (or if) they were going to order contributions from 375 different artists, the book turns out to be divided into sections based on lines of dialogue from the film, a clever idea when much of the imagery reprises the same scenes or characters. My piece, which you can see below the fold, is in the “Nobody trusts anybody now” section.


One surprise was the dedication to Bernie Wrightson who died earlier this year. As for Mike Ploog’s original designs for the film’s creatures, I was hoping there might be more of these but the book does open with a couple of Ploog’s drawings.



I’ve resisted the temptation to post favourites by other artists aside from this piece by Steve Thomas. This one stood out for me since it’s a riff on the same lettering designs from fire insurance maps that I pastiched myself a few years ago for Lavie Tidhar’s The Bookman Histories. Not all the artists produced monster art, there are quite a few contributions like this which present the film via infographics or pastiche.


My contribution was scaled down from an ambitious scheme that would have tried to combine many of the film’s elements into a single poster-type design. The trouble with this idea was that I didn’t have much time to produce anything at all, being busy with book-cover work so I regard this as something of a compromise. After watching the film again, and reading John Campbell’s story, I kept thinking about the gaps between scenes where mutations have occurred that we never see. There’s also the situation at the Norwegians’ outpost although this is no longer a mystery thanks to the recent prequel (which I still haven’t watched). The humanoid figure has thorns on its fingers, a nod to the monster from the earlier Howard Hawks production, and fanged tentacles from one of Mike Ploog’s production drawings. Some of my initial creature sketches may be seen below, not all of which could be fitted into the final composition.

The Thing: Artbook is on sale now, price $39:99.






Previously on { feuilleton }
The Thing Group Art Show



Posted in {art}, {books}, {design}, {film}, {horror}, {work}.

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7 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by Gabe McCann


    Nice. Now I’ll have to rewatch the DVD I have of the film http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/John-Carpenter-THE-THING-THE-FOG-THEY-LIVE-ESCAPE-New-York-4-Dvd-R4-/332405183512
    (and no I’m not selling my copy this is the only DVD cover of it I could find online) and also get a copy of the book. I remember watching the behind the scenes extras on the DVD about a year ago and the glee with which some of the people responsible for the makeup and effects for the film still felt about their contribution to it for what was to some the start of their career in movies. Great soundtrack by Morricone too. https://www.discogs.com/Ennio-Morricone-The-Thing-Original-Motion-Picture-Soundtrack/master/56244

  2. #2 posted by Gabe McCann


    Nice but if I order it online from PiB the cost of shipping to Australia is almost as much as the cost of the book itself. Might have to wait till I can order it through a local bookstore instead.

    Estimated Shipping

  3. #3 posted by Gabe McCann


    …and if I order it through Amazon the shipping is only $3.99. What the hell???

  4. #4 posted by John


    Yes, it’s a very heavy book so the postage will reflect that. Amazon may have some imported copies in Aus, hence their price, although that’s just a guess.

  5. #6 posted by John


    I’m on board with that, always advise people to shop away from the piranha-infested waters.

  6. #7 posted by Stan says...


    What a stunning book. Gotta go get me a copy asap!






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