Yuggoth details

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Yuggoth Cultures (1994) by John Coulthart.

Earlier this week I spent a day scanning this painting—which I’m now surprised to find is 21 years old—so I might at last have a good quality digital copy. There’s been a copy on the website for years but that was a print made at a high-street copy shop that did nothing for the detail and range of colour. It’s quite a large piece—49.54 x 71.39 cm (19.5 x 28.1 inches)—done with acrylics on board. Since 2003 the painting has been used (in another poor reproduction) on the cover of The Starry Wisdom, the controversial collection of Lovecraftian fiction from Creation Books. The painting wasn’t originally intended for that collection, however, and doesn’t quite fit since a number of the portraits don’t feature in the book at all.

Yuggoth Cultures would have been an earlier collection of Lovecraftian fiction and non-fiction that Alan Moore had begun writing for Creation in 1993. Alan’s idea was to take Lovecraft’s Fungi from Yuggoth sonnet sequence as the basis for a collection that would explore Lovecraft’s fictional world and also draw together a variety of figures from the same era: fellow writers, occultists like Aleister Crowley and Austin Spare, and Harry Houdini for whom Lovecraft ghost-wrote Imprisoned with the Pharaohs in 1924. Unfortunately the stars were not right on this occasion; Alan took the sole copy of the half-written manuscript to London in order to read selections at an event in Soho but left the papers in a cab. Some pieces survived, having been copied and stored elsewhere—The Courtyard in The Starry Wisdom is one of these—and there was talk for a while of the lost pieces being rewritten but enthusiasm for the project flagged.

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This is Alan’s sketch for the cover, the idea being to have a Lovecraft head made of fungal growths rather like an Arcimboldo painting. The head would be sprouting tendrils whose loops would contain pictures of some of the people featured in the book. Alan’s quick sketch is actually a better approximation of Lovecraft’s strange features than my painted version which isn’t narrow enough. For the record (and because people always ask), the other people on the cover are Alan himself, Austin Osman Spare, Aleister Crowley, Harry Houdini, Robert E Howard (not Al Capone as people often think) and Clark Ashton Smith.

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While searching through the archives I discovered these lettering designs although they’re probably not bold enough to read very well on such a busy painting. Before I started using a computer, designs like this had to be drawn at large size then scaled down using a photocopier.

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Vertumnus

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Rudolf II of Habsburg as Vertumnus (detail).

With the spring here starting to show its reluctant face it’s an apt moment to find a handful of Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s paintings at the Google Art Project. Vertumnus is the perennial favourite, Arcimboldo’s portrait of his patron, Rudolf II of Hapsburg, as the Roman god of the seasons. I’ve always thought this portrait flattered Rudolf more than those which faithfully depict his homely features. We’re told the Emperor was very pleased with his fruity likeness.

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Rudolf II of Habsburg as Vertumnus (1590).

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Summer (1563).

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Four Seasons in One Head (c. 1590).

Previously on { feuilleton }
Arcimboldo’s Four Elements

Reverbstorm at Supervert

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Keith Seward’s Horror Panegyric was a concise examination of David Britton’s multimedia Lord Horror project which Savoy Books published in 2007. I designed the book, the cover of which was my Arcimboldo pastiche of Lord Horror’s profile which appeared on the cover of issue 3 of Reverbstorm. The Supervert site which hosts an online copy of Horror Panegyric has this month posted my answers to some questions about Reverbstorm, the series having grown out of the first Lord Horror novel and the earlier comics:

The graphics in Reverbstorm sometimes seem more narrative than the words. How did you and David work out a scenario?

I don’t have objections per se to the usual story structures but in this series we both wanted to create something that wasn’t following familiar adventure narrative lines. The precedents for me were the European comic artists from Métal Hurlant who often favoured art over story; also Burne Hogarth whose work was a great influence on the style I used to draw Lord Horror. Hogarth’s Tarzan strips are adventure narratives but in his later books it’s the art that’s paramount. James Joyce is one of the characters in Reverbstorm, and you can also find a precedent in Ulysses where the story is overwhelmed by the surface detail.

Reverbstorm began with Paul Temple’s lyrics for the Reverbstorm song and a brief Lord Horror film treatment that Dave and Mike had put together for a production company. I don’t recall much about the treatment — I only looked at it once in the office — but it concerned Horror and Jessie Matthews in New York City, opening with a sequence where his Lordship kills some policemen in an alleyway. That vague outline can be seen in the first few pages of Reverbstorm with NYC changed to Torenbürgen. Other elements taken from the film treatment included the name Blue Blaze Laudanum — the actual robotic character came later — and the Souls which likewise became more substantially developed as the comic progressed.

Once we’d introduced all the characters things developed along thematic lines rather than strictly narrative ones. So the second part introduces the Ether Jumpers, the third part has the Apes, the fourth part the Ononoes, the fifth part Picasso and T.S. Eliot, and so on. Musical structure is an obvious parallel, and I consider some of the recurring background material to be visual leifmotifs which can indicate or imply one of the three main characters even if they aren’t present on the page. This musical analogy is an important one for appreciating the series as a whole. The entwined themes and references work in a manner that’s a lot closer to musical works than to the mechanics of an adventure narrative. (more)

Previously on { feuilleton }
Reverbstorm in print
Reverbstorm update
James Joyce in Reverbstorm
A Reverbstorm jukebox
Reverbstorm: Bauhaus Horror
Reverbstorm: an introduction and preview

The weekend artists, 2012

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Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (2012) by Lesley Barnes. She also has peacock wrapping paper.

The most popular post of the year was one I made last December featuring all the artists whose work had appeared throughout 2011 in the weekend links posts. (The surge of views occurred early in January when it was linked on Stumbleupon.) Since I’ve been away this week there aren’t any links so here’s a retrospective of things that caught my eye in 2012.

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Heartsick (2011) by Kelly Durette.

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Self-portrait by Jon Jacobsen from his Home series.

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Der Triumph des Tintenfisches from Meggendorfer-Blätter (c. 1900). Via Beautiful Century.

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Two Grove Press covers by Roy Kuhlman. From Arden Kuhlman Riordan’s Pinterest page collecting her father’s cover designs.

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Technological mandala 02 (The beginning) (2012) by Leonardo Ulian.

Continue reading “The weekend artists, 2012”

Weekend links 98

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The Arcimboldo Effect again. An undated postcard from the image section of A Virtual Wunderkammer: Early Twentieth Century Erotica in Spain.

“I took George Clinton and Bootsy Collins to the Battle Station for the first time, and they left feeling like they’d just had a close encounter,” said the bassist and music producer Bill Laswell, who met Rammellzee in the early 1980s and remained one of the few people who saw him regularly.

Rammellzee’s Work and Reputation Re-emerge

• Also in the NYT: China Miéville on Apocalyptic London: “Everyone knows there’s a catastrophe unfolding, that few can afford to live in their own city. It was not always so.” Reverse the perspective and find Iain Sinclair writing in 2002 about Abel Ferrara’s The King of New York: “A memento mori of the century’s ultimate city in meltdown.”

• The Inverted Gaze: Queering the French Literary Classics in America by François Cusset. Related: Glitterwolf Magazine is asking for submissions from LGBT writers/artists/photographers.

• The vinyl releases of Cristal music by Structures Sonores Lasry-Baschet continue to be scarce and unreissued. Mark Morb has a high-quality rip of the group’s No. 4 EP here.

Henri’s Walk to Paris, the children’s book designed by Saul Bass in 1962, is being republished. Steven Heller takes a look.

As the critic Jon Savage points out, even rock’n’roll’s very roots, the blues, contained a weird gay subculture. The genre was home to songs such as George Hannah’s Freakish Man Blues, Luis Russell’s The New Call of the Freaks, and Kokomo Arnold’s Sissy Man Blues. “I woke up this morning with my pork grindin’ business in my hand,” offers Arnold, adding, “Lord, if you can’t send me no woman, please send me some sissy man.”

Straight and narrow: how pop lost its gay edge by Alex Petridis

David Pelham: The Art of Inner Space. James Pardey interviews the designer for Ballardian.

BBCX365: Johnny Selman designs an entire year of news stories.

• Sarah Funke Butler on Nabokov’s notes for Eugene Onegin.

• Leslie S. Klinger on The cult of Sherlock Holmes.

How piracy built the US publishing industry.

SynthCats

The Light Pours Out Of Me (1978) by Magazine | Touch And Go (1978) by Magazine | Motorcade (1978) by Magazine | Feed The Enemy (1979) by Magazine | Cut-Out Shapes (1979) by Magazine.