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 Eerie Book

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Work-wise, I’m still preoccupied with Edgar Allan Poe so I’ve been delving into the Internet Archive’s stock of scanned books more than usual. I’m not looking now for earlier Poe illustrations but a search last month turned up this collection of horror stories edited by Margaret Armour, and illustrated by William Brown Macdougall. Armour and Macdougall were married, and collaborated on several illustrated books; they also knew Aubrey Beardsley—Macdougall contributed to both The Yellow Book and The Savoy—so many of the illustrations in this volume are in the post-Beardsley manner. As Beardsleyesque drawings go they’re not as successful as, say, those of Will Bradley; some of Macdougall’s faces are rather dopey, and the cross-hatching doesn’t always work with this style of black-and-white art, as Beardsley himself discovered. But Macdougall’s drawing for The Masque of the Red Death is a better illustration than Beardsley’s own, horror not being one of Aubrey’s strengths. The Eerie Book may be browsed in full here.

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The Masque of the Red Death.

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The Iron Coffin.

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The Mother and the Dead Child.

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Fritz Eichenberg’s illustrated Poe

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The Murders in the Rue Morgue.

My current workload is very Poe-oriented (about which more later) so I’ve been spending some time looking at earlier illustrators of the Boston maestro. Edgar Allan Poe’s stories don’t receive as much attention from illustrators as other popular works—horror and the macabre having a limited appeal—but there are nevertheless many illustrated editions, including this one from 1944 by Fritz Eichenberg which I hadn’t seen before. Eichenberg was a German who moved to America in the 1930s; his speciality was wood engraving, a technique particularly suited to Poe’s sombre dramatics. As always with illustrations of familiar stories, a large part of the interest lies in seeing how the artist has treated the work in their own manner. Several of the illustrations here show the climax of each story but The Pit and the Pendulum breaks with custom by showing the interrogation from the beginning (Harry Clarke showed both the beginning and the end). Also of note is the ape from The Murders in the Rue Morgue which for once looks like an orangutan rather than the unspecified simian monster seen in many other renderings.

Not all of Eichenberg’s illustrations are to my taste so this is a selection of favourites. You can see the rest at VTS together with more of the artist’s work.

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The Fall of the House of Usher.

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The Masque of the Red Death.

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Metzengerstein

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Metzengerstein by Wilfried Sätty.

One of the horses in yesterday’s post seemed familiar until I realised it had been used by Wilfried Sätty for his final Metzengerstein illustration in The Illustrated Edgar Allan Poe (1976). This has been happening a lot since I started delving into the book scans at the Internet Archive, Sätty’s collage sources leaping abruptly from old engravings. The horse is a good example of Sätty’s evolved approach to collage which often reversed the printing of assembled artwork, or used a printing press (or PMT process) to duplicate and mirror his collage elements.

Not all Poe illustrators bother with this Gothic pastiche, and those that do don’t always provide an effective rendering of the climax when the clouds of smoke above a smouldering castle assume the form of a colossal horse. Byam Shaw’s illustration is typical, with the horse standing inertly above the flames. Sätty’s picture only occupies half a page but is much more successful, as are many of the other illustrations in a volume that remains one of the very best Poe collections, and the finest of Sätty’s books.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
The original Gandharva
The Occult Explosion
Wilfried Sätty album covers
Nature Boy: Jesper Ryom and Wilfried Sätty
Wilfried Sätty: Artist of the occult
Illustrating Poe #4: Wilfried Sätty
Gandharva by Beaver & Krause

Ralph Steadman record covers

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Informal Jazz (1956) by Elmo Hope Sextet.

Yesterday’s post made me realise I’d never looked to see how many album covers Ralph Steadman might have designed or illustrated. A quick delve into Discogs revealed the following haul, a couple of which I own on CD. Steadman has worked in a wide range of media but I didn’t know his album work went back into the 1950s. The style of the early sleeves is markedly different to the angry, splattery creations that made his name, and without a signature you’d be unlikely to recognise the artist.

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Conception (1956) by Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz, Sonny Rollins, Zoot Sims.

Artists known for their work outside the music world tend to have pre-existing art used on record sleeves but Steadman is unusual in creating so much cover art afresh. In light of this I’ve omitted the CD insert for a dramatisation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas which repeats the drawing familiar from many of the paperback editions.

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4 Altos (1957) by Phil Woods, Gene Quill, Sahib Shihab, Hal Stein.

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Back Country Suite For Piano, Bass And Drums (1959) by Mose Allison.

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