The Ingenious by Darius Hinks

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My latest cover for Angry Robot Books was revealed this week at the Barnes & Noble blog (where I talk a little about the design aspects) so here it is. The Ingenious is an alchemy-themed fantasy by Darius Hinks, the brief for which required a depiction of the city of Athanor, the central character, Isten, and some indication of the novel’s occult flavour:

Thousands of years ago, the city of Athanor was set adrift in time and space by alchemists called the “Curious Men.” Ever since, it has accumulated cultures, citizens and species into a vast, unmappable metropolis.

Isten and her gang of half-starved political exiles live off petty crime and gangland warfare in Athanor’s seediest alleys. Though they dream of returning home to lead a glorious revolution, Isten’s downward spiral drags them into a mire of addiction and violence. Isten must find a way to save the exiles and herself if they are ever to build a better, fairer world for the people of their distant homeland.

I was also asked to do something in the detailed drawing style of artists such as Philippe Druillet and Ian Miller, a challenge I was happy to accept with the proviso that both those artists are inimitable. As I say in the B&N post, I went in a Miller direction although I don’t know whether anyone would spot the influence. I was more overt years ago in some of my borrowings from Druillet whose aesthetics can be discerned in my poor artwork for Hawkwind and my much better artwork for The Call of Cthulhu. The background pattern was the kind of thing I often do where I spend hours working on something then cover it over, but more of the interlacing and symbolism (all genuine alchemical symbols) will be visible on the back of the book.

The Ingenious will be published on 9th February, 2019.

Previously on { feuilleton }
De Sphaera
Delineations
Musaeum Hermeticum
A triangular book about alchemy
Alembic and Ligier Richier
Atalanta Fugiens
Splendor Solis revisited
Laurie Lipton’s Splendor Solis
The Arms of the Art
Splendor Solis
Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae
Cabala, Speculum Artis Et Naturae In Alchymia
Digital alchemy

A view over Yuggoth

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I mentioned in the post about the Sherlock Holmes illustrations that the next book from Editorial Alma featuring my work would be another Lovecraft collection. One of the illustrations in the new volume was of the planet Yuggoth, a world known to human beings as Pluto. In Lovecraft’s mythos Yuggoth has long been an outpost of advanced alien civilisations, particularly the fungoid crustaceans of The Whisperer in Darkness and the splendidly-titled sonnet sequence Fungi from Yuggoth. I’d broached this subject a couple of times in the past, first with a panel in my Haunter of the Dark comic strip (the Shining Trapezohedron is described as being brought to Earth from Yuggoth) then with a photocopy collage of Haeckel organisms for the first Starry Wisdom collection.

Yuggoth is one of several alien outposts in Lovecraft’s fiction, allied in its remoteness from humans with the underwater city of R’lyeh and the Antarctic city in At the Mountains of Madness. All these locations suggest exotic architecture so they’ve long been some of my favourite features in Lovecraft’s work, hence this new piece which I couldn’t resist doing after completing work on the Alma book. Since I acquired a Wacom tablet four years ago I’ve become so used to using it for line drawing that working with it now feels as natural as working with pens and inks. But digital painting was something I still didn’t feel happy with. This is mainly because the brush options in Photoshop are limitless, and one thing I’ve never liked with art materials is too much choice. When I was working with physical media I used to use a minimum of pens and brushes so what I really wanted from Photoshop was a single brush that would do what I wanted without having to swap tools all the time when working. This view of Yuggoth is the result of having finally settled (by chance, as it happened) on a brush that does everything I want without getting in the way. The drawing was completely improvised so as a composition it has some flaws; it could also have been developed a lot more to bring out highlights and details. But as an experimental piece it worked out well and also didn’t take too very long to do. When I have the time I’ll be doing more with this new brush.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Thing on the Doorstep
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

The Mystery of Picasso

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I mentioned late last year that I’d written the booklet notes for a forthcoming DVD/blu-ray of The Mystery of Picasso (1956) by Henri-Georges Clouzot, a film receiving its blu-ray premiere this month courtesy of Arrow Academy. The discs are now on sale (UK only, I’m afraid) either online or anywhere that stocks Arrow titles. (Fopp is my preferred outlet.) For those outside the UK, the restored film is also available on iTunes. Clouzot’s film was regarded as an oddity in the 1950s, the director being best known for outstanding thrillers like The Wages of Fear and Les Diaboliques. Today The Mystery of Picasso is regarded as one of the great films about art for the way it successfully captures Picasso in a decade when he was still fervently productive, despite being in his 70s.

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Almost all films of this type favour the documentary approach, usually with a camera and interviewer dogging the subject’s footsteps while showing little of the creative process. Picasso wouldn’t have participated in anything like this—he was appalled by a documentary he saw about Matisse—but Clouzot persuaded him that a film could be made showing him drawing and painting in a studio environment. This approach had precedence in Paul Haessarts’ short film from 1949 (included among the disc extras) which showed Picasso in his studio at Vallauris; the film ends with a series of paintings on glass of various animals and human figures. Clouzot expanded on Haessarts’ idea with the full range of film technology: time-lapse, black-and-white stock, colour stock and Cinemascope. The works Picasso creates for the camera aren’t his best—how could they be when they were being produced at speed in sweltering, time-constrained conditions? But the film is a miraculous portrait of an artist whose name is still universally recognised almost fifty years after his death. By chance or design, it’s also a partial portrait of Clouzot himself who appears in several of the shots to discuss new camera setups.

There’s no need for me to say more about the film when I discuss it at length in the booklet. For a review of the disc contents, there’s a substantial appraisal here. For more about Henri-Georges Clouzot I recommend the study by Christopher Lloyd which was invaluable for its details about the film’s production.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Picasso-esque
My pastiches
Cubist Cthulhu

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