Foreign affairs

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A Czech edition of Something from Below by ST Joshi, 2022.

A few of my illustrations and cover designs have been reprinted on foreign editions over the past couple of years so I thought I’d note them here. All the books are cosmic horror of one kind or another which isn’t too surprising when I’m known more for this than for my work in other genres. Seeing your cover art reused in other countries (or in your own country, for that matter) happens less often than you might think. The music business goes in the opposite direction in this regard. Books, for a variety of reasons, tend to be reprinted with new covers whereas album releases will sail through the years packaged in whatever cover they were fortunate (sometimes unfortunate) to have received when first released. Consequently, you can’t predict which design or illustration might end up being used for a reprint or a new edition.

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A Swedish edition of The Call of Cthulhu and other stories, 2022. The cover art is from the series of illustrations I produced for Lovecraft’s Monsters, a story collection edited by Ellen Datlow.

This list isn’t necessarily all that may be out there. Another peculiarity of the publishing world is that you can be told a foreign edition is being planned then, after various agreements have been made, never hear about it again. This is partly a result of the Babel-like nature of the internet, in which we navigate our own language zones while remaining ignorant of the other zones which exist close by. If nobody tells you the book was published then you’re unlikely to encounter it by accident. Publishing is also a slow business, so that you might agree to a reprint, send off the artwork then forget all about it until somebody contacts you a year later asking where they should send a complimentary copy. (And publishers don’t always send complimentary copies…) Missing from this list are a Russian edition of Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng, and a Chinese edition of The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers. In both cases I sent the publishers the artwork and was paid a small fee as a result but I’ve yet to discover whether the books were published using my cover art, or even published at all.

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The above is a Turkish edition of The House on the Borderland published by the Karanlik Kitaplik imprint of Ithaki. The imprint title translates as “Dark Bookshelf” although “Dark Library” seems more likely, with the other books in the series being horror novels that feature similar cover designs using tinted monochrome artwork. My illustration is from the interior of the Swan River Press edition which I would, of course, recommend to all Anglophone readers. The Turkish publisher said they planned to reprint some of my other Hodgson illustrations inside their edition but I don’t know whether they’ve done this. Ithaki also have another edition of the novel which reuses the Ian Miller cover art from the old Panther paperback.

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French edition of The Last Ritual by SA Sidor, 2021.

Asmodee has tentacles in many countries so the spin-off books published by the company’s Aconyte imprint have generated a number of foreign editions, one of which has already been mentioned here. I’m pleased to see the reworked covers using fonts sympathetic to the Deco-style design. There are more books in this series (the most recent being The Ravening Deep) so there may be more foreign editions in the future.

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Italy, 2021.

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South Korea, 2022.

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Spain, 2022. This one comes with a postcard of the cover design.

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Spanish edition of Litany of Dreams by Ari Marmell, 2022.

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South Korea, 2022.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Das Letzte Ritual
Litany of Dreams
The Last Ritual
Something from Below
Lovecraft’s Monsters

Now It’s Dark

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Now It’s Dark by Lynda E. Rucker; cover art by John Coulthart; jacket design by Meggan Kehrli; introduction by Rob Shearman; edited by Brian J. Showers and Timothy J. Jarvis; copyedited by Jim Rockhill; typeset by Steve J. Shaw; published by Swan River Press.

Hardback: Published on 27 January 2023; limited to 400 copies of which 100 were embossed and hand numbered; signed by Lynda E. Rucker, Rob Shearman, and John Coulthart; xii + 225 pages; lithographically printed on 90 gsm paper; dust jacketed; illustrated Wibalin boards; sewn binding; head- and tail-bands; ISBN: 978-1-78380-043-8.

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Dust jacket.

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Printed boards.

This is the last of the books I was working on last year, and being another design for Swan River Press means that once again the artwork is a wraparound cover with printed boards under the wrap. Now It’s Dark is a collection of horror stories (or possibly “strange stories” à la Robert Aickman), and a very fine collection it is. I was given carte blanche with this one so the cover is a mood piece rather than anything directly illustrational. One of the stories concerns the god Pan, which tempted me at first to do something with a satyr-like face, possibly as an architectural feature like a mascaron. But focusing on a single story in this way usually makes me worry about giving that story too much attention if it hasn’t also provided the title of the collection. Thinking about mascarons and their positioning above arched doorways led to the design you see here, a gesture towards a minor trend in horror illustration that makes use of the Arcimboldo effect, as with my battered Shirley Jackson paperback.

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Corgi Books, 1977. No artist credited.

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A Boy and His Dog on a Staircase in Rome (1886) by Niels Frederik Schiøttz-Jensen.

My cover is a variation on a real place, the “House of Monsters” entrance of the Palazzo Zuccari in Rome which today houses the Bibliotheca Hertziana. I placed the portal into an extended Baroque facade while moving the monstrous windows to the boards of the book. Given the way the grotteschi concept was a common feature of the Baroque you’d expect there to be more doorways like this but the palazzo street entrance seems to be unique. Equivalents such as the Ogre’s Head at Bomarzo are more like theme-park attractions than architectural features. I’ve never seen Umberto Eco mention the Palazzo Zuccari but I imagine he would have enjoyed seeing an infernal mouth as an entrance to a library.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Infernal entrances

Things Get Ugly

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Last month I said I had one more cover from 2022 to be made public, having forgotten that there was this one plus another which is currently at the printer, and which I’ll write about at a later date. Things Get Ugly follows last year’s Born For Trouble in being another Joe R. Lansdale cover for Tachyon that uses typography for the whole of the design. As with the earlier cover, this approach sidestepped having to try and summarise a collection of short stories with a single image or graphic. Adding imagery to a collection usually works best when the contents follow a specific theme, which isn’t the case here.

The stories may be described as crime but quite a few of them are dark enough to be included in horror collections. Things do, indeed, get ugly. The intersection between crime and horror fiction isn’t exactly new, the two genres have been entangled since The Murders in the Rue Morgue, and the boundaries remain permeable to this day. The most well-known piece in the new collection is Incident On and Off a Mountain Road, a story that was filmed for TV by Don Coscarelli for the Masters of Horror series, and which also opened the first season in 2005. Coscarelli’s adaptation is even nastier than its source but not everything in the collection is unrelentingly grim. Lansdale has a flair for black comedy which is to the fore in another story, Driving to Geromino’s Grave, in which two Depression-era children have to bring home the rotting body of their deceased uncle. This may not be everybody’s idea of an amusing read but the witty dialogue made me laugh. As well as the cover I’ve designed the interior of this one so I may post samples at a later date.

Things Get Ugly will be published in August. The book can be pre-ordered here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Born for Trouble
Of Mice and Minestrone

The Ravening Deep

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Presenting my latest cover in the Arkham Horror spin-off series for Aconyte. The Lovecraftian menace this time is oceanic:

When dissolute fisherman Abel Davenport discovers an ancient temple in the deep ocean, he falls under the influence of a long dead god. In his attempts to restore the god’s cult, Abel unleashes a plague of twisted doppelgangers on Arkham. Horrified by the consequences, Davenport realizes that he alone cannot stop the monsters from resurrecting the Ancient One.

Sometimes the only way to end one cult is to start another… Teaming up with redeemed cultist Diana Stanley and notorious thief Ruby Standish is the first step. The second is convincing Carl Sanford, the powerful leader of Arkham’s Silver Twilight Lodge, to join their cause. Together they might be the only hope of averting a cataclysmic eldritch invasion.

This was more of a challenge than some of my earlier covers for the series since there was a lot to fit in. That star shape in the background is an interlaced pattern like the sigil underneath the author’s name but it ended up being covered over, something I wasn’t intending but I always let these things grow organically rather than try and force everything into a preconceived design. As before, everything has been put together in Illustrator which presents its own challenges when you’re trying to achieve Photoshop-style airbrush effects. I like the way Illustrator restricts the graphical treatment to shapes, colours and hard edges, something which is perfect for these Deco-style covers. With Photoshop there’s always the temptation to start making everything more like a painting. A few of the aquatic details are adapted from Maurice Verneuil’s L’Animal dans la Decoration (1897), a book for artists showing stylised treatments of various animals and plants. I’ve had Verneuil’s book for a while as a Dover reprint but never found much use for it before.

This isn’t the last cover I’ve done this year, there’s another one still to be made public but it won’t be ready now until early in the new year. The Ravening Deep will be published in August 2023.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The Lovecraft archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Diamonds
The Devourer Below
Litany of Dreams
The Last Ritual

The Legend of Charlie Fish

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I’ve had several new book covers waiting in the wings for the past few months. The most recent of these, the cover for The Legend of Charlie Fish by Josh Rountree, was made public earlier this week so I can reveal it here.

In this debut, neo-gothic Western novel, an unlikely found family flees to Galveston, Texas, and a psychic young girl bonds with an enigmatic gill-man. While two bounty hunters are determined to profit by the spectacle Charlie Fish, the Great Storm—the worst natural disaster in US history—is on its way.

The brief for this one was to create something similar to the covers I designed for Mike Shevdon’s Courts of the Fayre series. Having already been asked to imitate the look of that series for a Marianne Williamson cover I was a little reluctant to do so again, but the final version of this one feels sufficiently different from the others to stand apart. One advantage of the graphic treatment was being able to use silhouettes to hint at the nature of the “enigmatic gill-man” without being too specific. When the appearance of characters is more alluded to than described you have to take care that your artwork isn’t too literal.

The Legend of Charlie Fish will be published by Tachyon in July 2023.