Foreign affairs

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A Czech edition of Something from Below by ST Joshi, 2022.

A few of my illustrations and cover designs have been reprinted on foreign editions over the past couple of years so I thought I’d note them here. All the books are cosmic horror of one kind or another which isn’t too surprising when I’m known more for this than for my work in other genres. Seeing your cover art reused in other countries (or in your own country, for that matter) happens less often than you might think. The music business goes in the opposite direction in this regard. Books, for a variety of reasons, tend to be reprinted with new covers whereas album releases will sail through the years packaged in whatever cover they were fortunate (sometimes unfortunate) to have received when first released. Consequently, you can’t predict which design or illustration might end up being used for a reprint or a new edition.

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A Swedish edition of The Call of Cthulhu and other stories, 2022. The cover art is from the series of illustrations I produced for Lovecraft’s Monsters, a story collection edited by Ellen Datlow.

This list isn’t necessarily all that may be out there. Another peculiarity of the publishing world is that you can be told a foreign edition is being planned then, after various agreements have been made, never hear about it again. This is partly a result of the Babel-like nature of the internet, in which we navigate our own language zones while remaining ignorant of the other zones which exist close by. If nobody tells you the book was published then you’re unlikely to encounter it by accident. Publishing is also a slow business, so that you might agree to a reprint, send off the artwork then forget all about it until somebody contacts you a year later asking where they should send a complimentary copy. (And publishers don’t always send complimentary copies…) Missing from this list are a Russian edition of Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng, and a Chinese edition of The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers. In both cases I sent the publishers the artwork and was paid a small fee as a result but I’ve yet to discover whether the books were published using my cover art, or even published at all.

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The above is a Turkish edition of The House on the Borderland published by the Karanlik Kitaplik imprint of Ithaki. The imprint title translates as “Dark Bookshelf” although “Dark Library” seems more likely, with the other books in the series being horror novels that feature similar cover designs using tinted monochrome artwork. My illustration is from the interior of the Swan River Press edition which I would, of course, recommend to all Anglophone readers. The Turkish publisher said they planned to reprint some of my other Hodgson illustrations inside their edition but I don’t know whether they’ve done this. Ithaki also have another edition of the novel which reuses the Ian Miller cover art from the old Panther paperback.

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French edition of The Last Ritual by SA Sidor, 2021.

Asmodee has tentacles in many countries so the spin-off books published by the company’s Aconyte imprint have generated a number of foreign editions, one of which has already been mentioned here. I’m pleased to see the reworked covers using fonts sympathetic to the Deco-style design. There are more books in this series (the most recent being The Ravening Deep) so there may be more foreign editions in the future.

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Italy, 2021.

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South Korea, 2022.

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Spain, 2022. This one comes with a postcard of the cover design.

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Spanish edition of Litany of Dreams by Ari Marmell, 2022.

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South Korea, 2022.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Das Letzte Ritual
Litany of Dreams
The Last Ritual
Something from Below
Lovecraft’s Monsters

Weekend links 656

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Mobius Strip II (1963) by MC Escher.

• Old music: Warp Records is reissuing two recent Jon Hassell discs later this year: The Living City (Hassell’s ensemble playing live in NYC, 1989) and Psychogeography (Zones Of Feeling) (remixes from City: Works Of Fiction), which will be available as standalone releases or bundled together as Further Fictions together with Hassell’s Atmospherics book.

• “His library is an immense and enviable wellspring, a demimonde of objects by murky creators who for decades have gnawed away at the inner organs of polite society.” Steven Heller talks to Glenn Bray about Library, an 800-page collection of scans from Bray’s trove of books, comics and print ephemera.

• New music: Tsathoggua, the latest in the Lovecraftian series of Cryo Chamber Collaborations which reminds me that I’m still missing the more recent entries. Also the non-Lovecraftian Coil by Ian Boddy.

• “Music is a way to express yourself beyond words,” says Hildur Gudnadóttir.

• See this year’s winners of the annual Close-up Photographer of the Year competition.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…Ishmael Reed The Last Days of Louisiana Red (1974).

• A few new photos of Michael Heizer’s City in the Nevada desert.

City Of Night (1994) by David Toop & Max Eastley | City As Memory (1995) by John Foxx | City Appearing (2013) by Julia Holter

 

Weekend links 645

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Halloween (no date) by William Stewart MacGeorge.

• Couldn’t Care Less: Cormac McCarthy in a 75-minute conversation (!) with David Krakauer at the Santa Fe Institute, filmed in 2017 and recently posted to YouTube. Not a literary discussion, this one is all about science, philosophy, mathematics, architecture and the operations of the unconscious mind. McCarthy’s essay about the origins of language, The Kekulé Problem, may be read here.

• At Wormwoodiana: Douglas A. Anderson finds a 1932 reprint of an HP Lovecraft story, The Music of Erich Zann, in London newspaper The Evening Standard. The story had appeared a few months prior to this in a Gollancz book, Modern Tales of Horror which reprinted a US collection edited by Dashiell Hammett. The newspaper printing includes an illustration by Philip Mendoza.

• New Hollywood Vs Mutant Cinema: The flipside of US cinema, 1960s–80s. Joe Banks talks to Kelly Roberts, Michael Grasso and Richard McKenna about their new book, We Are the Mutants: The Battle for Hollywood from Rosemary’s Baby to Lethal Weapon.

• At Bandcamp: Rich Aucoin explains the army of synths on his new quadruple album. The battalion includes the bespoke modular setup known as T.O.N.T.O., a rig that few people get to play with.

• New/old music: Malebox, an EP of Patrick Cowley rarities coming soon from Dark Entries.

• Mix of the week: Samhain Séance 11: endleofon by The Ephemeral Man.

• The surreal photographs of Ralph Eugene Meatyard.

• “NASA team begins study of UFOs”.

Ghost Rider (1969) by Musical Doctors | Ghost Rider (1970) by The Crystalites | Ghost Rider (1977) by Suicide

Eldritch idols

 

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I wouldn’t usually bother writing about new additions to the growing mountain of plastic ephemera generated by 21st-century culture but these items warrant wider attention. Legacy of Lovecraft is a set of six Lovecraft-related action figures made by 52Toys in Japan which include a figure of Lovecraft himself. There was a time when this alone would have been surprising but 20 years have now elapsed since the idea of a Sigmund Freud action figure went from being an unlikely joke to something you could actually buy. Today we’re more likely to be surprised if something with a substantial cultural footprint hasn’t generated any merchandising spin-offs.

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I saw the Lovecraft figure last month in a post at Tentaclii but didn’t notice at the time that it was part of a range which includes Cthulhu, a Deep One, Dagon, and The King in Yellow. The latter isn’t a Lovecraft creation, of course, but Robert Chambers’ stories are Mythos-adjacent. And despite the box art the figure isn’t clad in yellow either, but this provides an opportunity for enterprising owners to create some suitably tattered garments. All the figures come with small complementary items: Lovecraft has a forbidden tome, Cthulhu a tiny ship to torment, and so on. (The nameless “Investigator” comes with two extra items, a lamp and a Cthulhu statue.) The King in Yellow intrigues me the most for being a curious combination of Lovecraftian tentacles with an abundance of gnashing teeth that look like something out of Junji Ito’s comics. If I was going to buy any of these this is the one I’d get first. At around £25 each they’re not cheap but then I’ve spent similar amounts on Japanese CDs in the past.

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Continue reading “Eldritch idols”

Art on film: Providence

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Art by René Ferracci.

Continuing an occasional series about artworks in feature films. Most people know HR Giger’s work via his production designs for the Alien films; a much smaller number of people also know about his designs for Jodorowsky’s unmade film of Dune, but hardly anyone knows that his art first appeared in a major film two years before Alien was released. This isn’t too surprising when the film in question, Providence, directed by Alain Resnais, has been increasingly difficult to see since 1977; the film isn’t mentioned in any of Giger’s books either, a curious omission for an artist who spent his career logging every public appearance of his work.

Providence began life as a collaboration between Resnais and British playwright David Mercer, with the resulting script leading to a Swiss/French co-production that was filmed in English. The film has an exceptional cast—Dirk Bogarde, Ellen Burstyn, John Gielgud, Elaine Stritch, David Warner—marvellous photography by Ricardo Aronovitch, and a sumptuous score by Miklós Rózsa. If you’re the kind of person who regards awards as designators of quality then it’s worth noting that Providence won 7 Cesar Awards in 1978, including the one for best picture. Yet despite all this, and despite being regularly described as a peak of its director’s career there’s only been a single DVD release which is now deleted. I’d been intending to write about the film for some time but first I had to acquire a decent copy to watch again; this wasn’t an easy task but I managed to “source” a version that was better than the VHS tape I used to own.

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For most of its running time Providence is a film about artistic invention, more specifically about the process of writing. Clive Langham (John Gielgud) is an ailing author spending a sleepless night alone in his huge house, “Providence”, wracked by unspecified bowel problems, painful memories and fears of impending death. To distract himself from his troubles he drinks large quantities of wine while mentally sketching a scenario for a novel in which the people closest to him are the main characters. In this story-within-the-story Langham’s son, Claude (Dirk Bogarde), is a priggish barrister whose primary conflicts are with his absent father, his bored wife, Sonia (Ellen Burstyn), and a listless stranger, Kevin (David Warner), who Sonia has befriended and seems attracted to even though Kevin won’t reciprocate. While Claude cajoles and insults the pair he also conducts an affair of his own with Helen (Elaine Stritch), an older woman who resembles his dead mother. The scenario is elevated from being another mundane saga about middle-class infidelities by its persistently dream-like setting, and by the interventions and confusions of its cantankerous author. If you only know John Gielgud from his later cameos playing upper-class gentlemen then he’s a revelation here, boozing and cursing like the proprietor of Black Books. Between spasms of illness and self-pity Langham shuffles his playthings around like chess pieces, revising scenes while trying to keep minor characters from interfering; “Providence” isn’t only the house where Langham lives but also the watchful eye of its God-like author. Meanwhile, his characters bicker and chastise each other, paying little attention to the disturbing events taking place in the streets outside: terrorist bombings, outbreaks of lycanthropy, and elderly citizens being rounded up for extermination.

Continue reading “Art on film: Providence”