A few more Salomés

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Jean Benner (1899).

I’ve not done a Salomé post for a while so here’s another handful of different interpretations. The most interesting ones are the two most recent: a drawing by Barry Windsor Smith I’d not seen before (undated but it looks like his work from the 1980s), and a great piece by Paula Andrade that can also be seen in a black-and-white version here.

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Georges De Feure (1900).

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Gyula Eder (1907).

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The Dracula Annual

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A comment by Modzilla in last month’s post about psychedelic comic book Saga de Xam is responsible for this recent book purchase. Dracula was a full-colour large-format comic book from notorious pulp imprint New English Library (later to be distributors for my colleagues at Savoy Books) that repackaged Spanish horror strips for a British audience. The comic ran for 12 issues in the early 1970s; the pages shown here are from the hardback annual that gathered all the issues into a single volume. I remember this being around in secondhand shops for years but I never paid it any attention at all so the artwork has been a revelation.

NEL’s Dracula isn’t much of a horror comic, despite its title; Dracula himself only appears in one story, and that’s a jokey throwaway piece. The two main episodic strips are Wolff, a Conan clone searching for his lost wife in a world ravaged by witches, werewolves and other supernatural threats; and Agar-Agar, a deliriously psychedelic picaresque concerning a hyper-sexual “sprite” (or a hippyish young woman with blue hair and magic powers) from the planet Xanadu. Everything in the book is redolent of the early 1970s when strains of psychedelia were still percolating through pop culture. Watered-down psychedelia used to bore me because I wanted the authentic stuff but forty years on this kind of work is much more attractive.

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Wolff is the work of Esteban Maroto whose splash pages and inventive layouts give Barry Windsor-Smith’s Conan the Barbarian (which was running at this time) some serious competition. Wolff is very much in the Conan mould—he even shouts “Crom!” at crucial moments—a pawn of supernatural forces he often fails to comprehend. The artwork in Smith’s Conan was often praised for its details and decor but the Art Nouveau influence in Maroto’s work is much more overt. Maroto’s flame-haired witches are like Alphonse Mucha sirens—one panel even borrows from Mucha’s Salammbô—and he’s no slouch with the Frazetta-like demons either. The scripting is perfunctory but I don’t mind that when it turns up pages like these. There’s also a brief nod to Lovecraft when “R’Lyeh” is mentioned.

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Three stages of Icarus

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Daedalus and Icarus (1615–1625) by Anthony van Dyck.

The story of the doomed youth as seen via the few Icarus works at the Google Art Project. Brueghel’s famous painting is absent, unfortunately, so I won’t quote the equally famous lines by Auden either. Van Dyck gives us a golden-haired twink that Auden might approve of although I seem to recall the poet preferred rougher trade. No indication as to how those wings are supposed to function when they don’t seem to be attached to anything. The father points ominously skyward while the boy already knows where he’s headed.

Artus Quellinus was a Flemish sculptor whose work is a deliberate harking back to Classical antecedents.

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Icarus (1655) by Artus Quellinus.

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The Lament for Icarus (1898) by Herbert Draper.

Herbert Draper has been dismissed for years as a late-Victorian kitsch-monger, far too academic to be worthy of consideration. Since I often feel an affection for anything that upsets art critics I rather like his brand of fin de siècle soft porn. Many artists of the period at least varied their output often enough to avoid accusations of unseemly interests. Not so Draper, whose oeuvre runs the gamut of wet mythological females: naiads, sirens, kelpies, mermaids, etc. Even with dead Icarus as a subject he has to throw in a naiad or three. Van Dyck’s twink has transmuted here into a muscular hunk; he’d need to be strong to wield those colossal wings. Interesting to see from the study below that the figure was developed considerably from the original model. The study is also a better piece of draughtsmanship than the painting where the right arm seems wrong somehow, and the legs appear to be melting down the rock on which he’s beached. Barry Windsor Smith produced a variation on the theme in the 1980s that may have been inspired by the Draper, something he called Self-Portrait with Wings.

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Study for Icarus (1898) by Herbert Draper.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The end of Orpheus

Weekend links: Apocalypse not now

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The Kurtz compound prior to destruction. An Apocalypse Now storyboard, one of a number which will be included among the extras on the Blu-Ray release of Francis Coppola’s film when it appears in the UK next month. The film is given a new cinema release on May 27th.

Radio broadcaster Harold Camping, a man denounced by fellow Christians as a false prophet, achieved one thing at least this week by making himself and his followers a global laughing-stock after the Rapture failed to materialise. I would have put money on him blaming those terrible gays somewhere along the way, such complaints being so common among a certain brand of American fundamentalist that you could write their sermons for them. Sure enough, here’s the old fool blathering about “lespianism” and describing the beautiful city of San Francisco as a cesspool. Shall we chalk this up as another victory for the gays, Harold? Related: No dogs go to heaven.

The internet has always been a home for ridicule but occasions like this bring out the wags in droves. The Oatmeal showed us how God is managing the Rapture using a Windows Install Wizard, and also pointed to a selection of sarcastic tweets. Meanwhile, this page has a comprehensive catalogue of previous apocalypse dates; the biggy is next year, of course.

Burroughs himself was no stranger to prosecution. In 1962 he was indicted on grounds of obscenity. Naked Lunch was not available in the US until 1962 and in the UK until 1964. The writer Norman Mailer and the poet Allen Ginsberg had to defend the book in court before the ruling could be reversed. In Turkey, it is now our turn to stand up for the novel.

Turkish writer Elif Shafak criticising the paternalism of the Turkish state in trying to protect its people from troubling novels. Related: William Burroughs publisher faces obscenity charges in Turkey.

An A–Z of the Fantastic City by Hal Duncan. “This guidebook leads readers and explorers through twenty-six cities of yore (Yore, while included, is one of the shorter entries).” Illustrated by Eric Schaller.

• The creepiest Alice in Wonderland of all, Jan Svankmajer’s semi-animated Alice (1988), receives a very welcome re-issue on DVD this month. With Brothers Quay extras and other good things.

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Robert E Howard’s sinister magus from the Conan stories, Thoth-Amon, as depicted by Barry Windsor-Smith. From a portfolio of five Robert E Howard characters, 1975.

What is computer music (or does it matter)? Related: A History of Electronic/Electroacoustic Music (1937–2001), 511 (!) downloadable pieces.

Unearthly Powers: Surrealism and SF: Rick Poynor explores the Tanguy-like strangeness of Richard Powers.

Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s search for a kool place.

The Library of Congress National Jukebox.

Vladimir Nabokov’s butterflies.

Amy Ross’s Wunderkammer.

Rapture (1981) by Blondie | Apocalypse (1990) by William Burroughs | Rapture (2000) by Antony and the Johnsons.

Jeffrey Catherine Jones, 1944–2011

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Yesterday’s Lily (1980), a collection of painting and illustration work published by Dragon’s Dream.

Artist Jeffrey Jones, whose death was announced this week, transitioned to Jeffrey Catherine Jones in the late 1990s so we’ll honour that here and won’t insist on referring to her as “he” as I’ve been seeing on some other websites. Jones’ work was significant for me mainly as a result of her participation in The Studio collective from 1975 to 1979, an affiliation of four artists—Jones, Barry Windsor-Smith, Mike Kaluta and Berni Wrightson—who shared a loft studio in New York City. The fruits of that relationship were recorded in one of my favourite art books, The Studio, in 1979. Of the four it was Barry Smith’s Pre-Raphaelite-inspired work which made the greatest impression at the time (especially Pandora), followed by Berni Wrightson’s Frankenstein illustrations. But Jones was the best painter in the group, with a style that blended influences from (among others) JM Whistler, Gustav Klimt and Frank Frazetta. There are galleries of paintings and drawings at the official website. Still to come is Better Things: Life & Choices of Jeffrey Jones, a documentary film by Maria Cabardo. Clips and trailers can be seen here.

A selection of paintings at Golden Age Comic Book Stories
The Studio Pt.1: Jeff Jones

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Roger Dean: artist and designer
Berni Wrightson’s Frankenstein