Professor Pepper’s Ghosts


Professor Pepper’s Ghosts, c. 1885.

From a page of old theatrical posters. A poster from the Egyptian Hall in London, home to regular performances by celebrated conjuror John Nevil Maskelyne, appears in the background of my Nyarlathotep picture.

For a contemporary explanation of Pepper’s Ghost, look here. Thanks to Thom for the tip!

Previously on { feuilleton }
Nyarlathotep: the Crawling Chaos

Nyarlathotep: the Crawling Chaos


Unveiling another new piece of work, this is a T-shirt design for metal band Cyaegha whose Steps of Descent album I illustrated and designed last year. They asked for something based on HP Lovecraft’s god Nyarlathotep so I thought I’d take the opportunity to rework from scratch the version of this I created in 1999 for the first edition of The Haunter of the Dark. I always felt the earlier piece was going in the right direction but lacked somewhat in execution; this makes up for that. Lovecraft’s Nyarlathotep is one of his most curious creations, in part because the conception of the character changed over many years. In various stories, letters and dream fragments the god/entity is variously described as an Egyptian pharaoh, an itinerant showman with electrical apparatus, the “black man” of European witch cults and the more typically Lovecraftian squamous alien monstrosity. The challenge, then, is to try and represent a little of each of these elements without overly favouring one or the other.

This is one of two illustrations I’ve produced in recent months which use Photoshop to imitate the engraving collage style of Wilfried Sätty, an artist whose work I discussed in an essay for Strange Attractor #2 in 2005. Sätty’s style was derived from Max Ernst’s famous collage “novels” of the 1930s and Photoshop is the ideal tool for this, far better than the old method of scissors, paper and glue. Sätty expanded Ernst’s technique by using reverse printing and the duplication of images; Photoshop extends the technique even further, making it possible to scale images up or down instead of being limited to the size of the original reproduction. The other illustration I’ve done in this style is for a short story and I’ll reveal that closer to publication. In the meantime I should be making a slightly different version of the new Nyarlathotep suitable for the usual range of CafePress products. More about those when they’re done.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Haunted Palace
The art of Stephen Aldrich

Heaven and Hell Calendar


It was only a week ago I announced a new calendar for 2009 and now here’s an additional CafePress creation which manages to offer more than another collection of Lovecraft illustrations. This is a sampling of my work from the past few years gathered under the vague rubric of Heaven and Hell. A couple of pieces are variations on earlier designs reworked so as to fit the square page format. Details follow below.


1: Angel Passage (CD cover)
2: The Lucid View (detail; book cover)
3: MBV Arkestra (magazine cover)
4: Emissaries (CD cover)
5: Snakes and Ladders (CD cover)
6: Salomé
7: Fallen Angel
8: The Highbury Working (CD cover)
9: Acid Mothers Temple (poster design)
10: Steps of Descent (CD cover)
11: Metal Sushi (detail; book cover)
12: “Mirage in time—image of long-vanish’d pre-human city” (detail)

Previously on { feuilleton }
Coulthart Calendar 2009

New things for August


Arriving in the post today was Steps of Descent, the new CD from American band Cyaegha featuring my design and illustration. The name Cyäegha (sic) belongs originally to a Cthulhu Mythos entity invented by Eddie C Bertin, author of The Whispering Horror, my favourite story from the Pan Book of Horror anthologies of the Seventies. The cover illustration is based on a scene from HP Lovecraft’s The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath and the cover and inner pages feature some photographic material from one of my Paris trips. I was very pleased with the way this turned out and I believe the band are too. Steps of Descent is officially released by Canonical Hours on the 8th of August.


Another recent piece of work is this Steampunk design suggested by writer Jeff VanderMeer who wanted a suitable layout for his semi-serious Steampunk formula. Jeff and wife Ann edited the recent Steampunk anthology from Tachyon so he knows whereof he speaks. This was going to be a T-shirt design but it seems now it may have a different outlet; more about that if and when it happens. The growing popularity of Steampunk as a sub-culture has raised some hackles recently but I like it even though I’ve not read many of the latest literary contributions. Anything which puts more brass, dirigibles and florid Victoriana into the world gets my vote.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Zeppelin vs. Pterodactyls
Wanna see something really scary?