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


 

The Thing on the Doorstep

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Workwise, this year has been a major one for interior illustration. So far I’ve completed about 80 illustrations for different titles, and I’m still not finished. The majority of the work has been for a Spanish publisher, Editorial Alma, based in Barcelona. Earlier this year they launched a line of reprints of classic works of fiction, each of which is illustrated. To date I’ve worked on three of the titles, the first of which, Narraciones extraordinarias by Edgar Allan Poe, will feature in a later post.

The second title, La llamada de Cthulhu by HP Lovecraft, is a small collection comprising the rather odd pairing of The Call of Cthulhu with The Thing on the Doorstep, two very different stories that you wouldn’t usually expect to see together. I provided six illustrations, three for Cthulhu which are slightly reworked pages from my comic-strip adaptation of the story, and three new ones for The Thing on the Doorstep. This is a story I’d never considered illustrating before when so much of its horror is psychological. It does, however, feature two characters who (by Lovecraft’s standards) are well-defined: the ineffectual Edward Pickman Derby and his sinister future wife, Asenath Waite. So that’s what you see here: portraits of the two main characters plus a view of the climactic scene that gives the story its title. Ideally, I would have liked to have done a fourth picture showing Derby’s surprise awakening at a nightmarish ritual but the deadlines on these books have been tight and there simply wasn’t time.

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For those interested in this title, the only purchase link I have is an Amazon one. All the books are hardbacks (without dustjackets) complete with decorated endpapers—I provided a tentacle pattern for this one—and a bookmark ribbon. Deadlines aside, it’s been a very pleasant experience working for Alma. The next two books are the big ones so watch this space.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Leather Cthulhu unleashed
Leather Cthulhu
The Gods of HP Lovecraft
Lovecraftiana calendar
Providential
NecronomiCon Providence 2015
Yuggoth details
A Mountain Walked
Lovecraft’s Monsters unleashed
Lovecraft’s Monsters
JK Potter and HP Lovecraft
Cthulhu Labyrinth
Tentacles #4: Cthulhu in Poland
Cthulhu Calendar
S. Latitude 47°9, W. Longitude 126°43
Resurgam variations
De Profundis
H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction
Heavy Metal, October 1979: the Lovecraft special
Cthulhoid and Artflakes
Cthulhu for sale
Cthulhu God
Cthulhu under glass
CthulhuPress
The monstrous tome
Cubist Cthulhu

 


Weekend links 387

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Japanese (?) poster for Liquid Sky (1982).

• The announcement this week of the death of Carl T. Ford, former editor of Dagon magazine, prompted a handful of memorial pieces. Dagon was notable for being a small British magazine devoted to Lovecraftian and other weird fiction (and the Call of Cthulhu games) at a time when the majority of such publications were American; it was also very well-produced, its later issues being typeset and filled with quality black-and-white illustration. Dagon interviewed many notable writers, including people such as Thomas Ligotti whose work at the time was still only known to a small group of enthusiasts. Mark Valentine posted a reminiscence at Wormwoodiana; Yog-Sothoth.com has an interview with Carl from 2010.

Michael “Dik Mik” Davies, manipulator of an audio generator and tape echo for Hawkwind, also died this week. Dik Mik’s primitive background electronics, augmented by Del Dettmar’s synthesizers, were an essential component of the early Hawkwind sound.

• Erik Davies talks to writer, photographer, and curator Joanna Ebenstein about Goth obsessions, memento mori, Santa Muerta, and her extraordinary new illustrated collection Death: A Graveside Companion.

• Slava Tsukerman’s cult film Liquid Sky (1982) finally gets a blu-ray release. From 2014: Punks, UFOs, and Heroin: Daniel Genis on how Liquid Sky became a cult movie.

Geeta Dayal explores the MOMA exhibition Thinking Machines: Art and Design in the Computer Age: 1959–1989.

You Should Come With Me Now is a collection of new fiction by M. John Harrison published this week.

VinylHub: “Our mission is to document every physical record shop and record event on the planet.”

Vladimir Nabokov‘s dream diary reveals experiments with “backwards timeflow”.

• Flawed Greatness: DB Jones on beauty and balance in John Ford’s The Searchers.

Irakli Kiziria on 9 synth artists who defined Eastern Europe’s post-Soviet sound.

• Edgar Allan Poe’s Hatchet Jobs: Mark Athitakis on Poe’s book reviews.

• Mix of the week: FACT mix 627 by Oneohtrix Point Never.

• At Creative Review: The design of Mute Records.

How generative music works.

Laraaji‘s favourite albums.

We Do It (1970) by Hawkwind | Adjust Me (1971) by Hawkwind | Electronic No. 1 (1973) by Hawkwind

 


The Scarlet Soul: Stories for Dorian Gray

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With the running out of the year it’s time to start posting some of the things I’ve been working on for the past few months. This year has been an incredibly busy one with little breathing space between projects. Last month I mentioned not having enough time to put together a decent mix for Halloween; I also haven’t had enough time to prepare a calendar for next year. The latter isn’t a great loss since last year’s effort was a particularly bad seller but I still like doing them when I have the opportunity.

Before I get to one of the big illustration projects, here’s a cover I put together last month for Dublin’s Swan River Press. The theme should be self-evident, and this marks my second entry into Dorian Gray territory. It’s also the second thing that I’ve worked on this year with a connection to Mark Valentine (see this post for details of the first). Swan River publish a range of elegant hardback editions so I’m looking forward to seeing this one in print. As to the artwork, the frame is adapted from a 1900 calendar design by one Oscar Ziemann which I found in an issue of Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration. There’s next to nothing about Herr Ziemann on the web so his design may have been a one-off. The poppies are my own replacement for Ziemann’s floral designs; they relate to the hints that Oscar Wilde gives to Dorian Gray’s opium indulgence, and they’re scarlet flowers, of course.

The Scarlet Soul will be published next month but it’s available for pre-order here. My next work for Swan River Press will be a major edition of William Hope Hodgson’s weird masterwork, The House on the Borderland. More about that later.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Picturing Dorian Gray

 


Weekend links 386

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Lynd Ward again, and one of his illustrations for Frankenstein (1934).

• “Julio Mario Santo Domingo was a collector and visionary who filled his homes and warehouses with the world’s greatest private collection related to the subjects of drugs, sex, magic, and rock and roll: a library of more than 50,000 items…” Altered States: The Library of Julio Santo Domingo by Peter Watts catalogues some of the artefacts.

• “His vision of Gay Liberation was deeply, and uniquely, inflected by his study of, and belief, in anarchism.” More on the late Charles Shively: Michael Bronski remembers a pivotal figure in the gay liberation movement.

• William Friedkin’s Sorcerer was released on region-free blu-ray a couple of years ago but it’s being reissued again in the UK for its fortieth anniversary. Julian House has created a series of designs for the insert.

• Electronic musician and podcaster Marc Kate talks to Erik Davis about nihilism, horror movies, New Age music, and transmuting Nazi black metal into the ambient soundscapes of his latest album, Deface.

• “Beware the polished little man“: an extract from The Guesthouse at the Sign of the Teetering Globe by Franziska zu Reventlow which is available now from Rixdorf Editions.

• Another welcome blu-ray release, Sergei Parajanov’s The Colour of Pomegranates appears later this month in a special edition from Second Sight.

• Mixes of the week: FACT mix 626 by Sharp Veins, XLR8R Podcast 515 by Sammy Dee, and Secret Thirteen Mix 236 by Beta Evers.

The Witch Wave with Pam Grossman is a podcast for bewitching conversation about magic, creativity, and culture.

• Call me by the wrong name: Benjamin Lee on Hollywood’s perennial attempts to straight-wash gay films.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…Ronald Firbank Concerning the Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli (1926).

• Zoë Lescaze reviews Frankenstein: The First Two Hundred Years by Christopher Frayling.

• Angry Optimism in a Drowned World: A Conversation with Kim Stanley Robinson.

• Stewart Smith on The Strange World of…Linda Sharrock.

Colors (1969) by Pharoah Sanders | Frankenstein (1972) by The Edgar Winter Group | Pomegranate (2001) by Transglobal Underground

 


All The Merry Year Round

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The appearance of the word “merry” in the title of this, the last in a series of themed compilations by A Year In The Country, rang alarm bells now that the end of the year is approaching. Christmas wretchedness isn’t the theme of the collection, however, “merry” in this case owes more to its prevalence in British folk culture:

All The Merry Year Round is an exploration of an alternative or otherly calendar that considers how traditional folklore and its tales now sit alongside and sometimes intertwine with cultural or media based folklore; stories we discover, treasure, are informed and inspired by but which are found, transmitted and passed down via television, film and technology rather than through local history and the ritual celebrations of the more long-standing folkloric calendar.

Track list:
1) United Bible Studies — Towards The Black Sun
2) Circle/Temple — Rigel Over Flag Fen
3) Magpahi — She Became Ashes and Left With the Wind
4) Cosmic Neighbourhood — Winter Light
5) Field Lines Cartographer — Azimuth Alignment Ritual
6) Polypores — Meridian
7) A Year In The Country — Tradition and Modernity
8) Sproatly Smith — Moons (Part 1)
9) Pulselovers — Tales Of Jack
10) The Hare And The Moon & Jo Lepine — I’ll Bid My Heart Be Still
11) Time Attendant — In a Strange Stillness
12) The Séance — Chetwynd Haze

Some of the previous entries in the year-long series have been more concerned with interstellar space than traditions and customs so All The Merry Year Round may be regarded as a return home, even if the opening number by United Bible Studies is entitled Towards The Black Sun. As with some of the label’s earlier compilations, extended drones and atmospherics by regular contributors Polypores and Time Attendant alternate with contemporary takes on the folk idiom by Magpahi, Sproatly Smith, and The Hare And The Moon, the latter offering an excellent rendition by Jo Lepine of the Scottish ballad I’ll Bid My Heart Be Still. This is another potent collection which doesn’t ignore the sinister potential of winter time, a quality I appreciate when recent offerings from the Ghost Box label have tended to be more box than ghost. The final piece on All The Merry Year Round is Chetwynd Haze by The Séance, a title that refers to ghost-story writer Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes, and a recording that provides an eerie and startling close to a collection mercifully free of seasonal cheer.

All The Merry Year Round will be released at the end of the month but is available for pre-order now.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Quietened Cosmologists
Undercurrents
From The Furthest Signals
The Restless Field
The Marks Upon The Land
The Forest / The Wald
The Quietened Bunker
Fractures

 


 



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Penda's Fen by David Rudkin