Foiled at last

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I’ve already written about the design for this story collection from Swan River Press but the gradient layout does nothing to convey the splendour of the foil-embossed printing. In the past when I’d suggested to publishers that foil printing might be an option the idea was always turned down for reasons of cost. My original intention for The Far Tower was for the design to be printed in a metallic ink so it might resemble the gold-on-green cover of the Yeats book which was the model for this volume. Metallic inks don’t always work too well, however, especially on a darkish background, so I said to Swan River “Or we could do it in gold foil…” To my surprise and delight they said “Why not?” So here’s the result. A great end to the year. The book is available here.

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And back in October, I posted what everyone thought at the time was the final design for Of Mice and Minestrone, a new book of Hap and Leonard stories by Joe R Lansdale. The Hap and Leonard books are popular works (there was a TV series based on them a while back) so they’re subject to the demands of the marketplace which in this case required a cover more in line with the red/white/black arrangement of some of Lansdale’s related titles. I’d already done most of this as an additional draft during the work on the first design so the reworking wasn’t too time-consuming. The rodent in the soup is more visible in this version which is another point in its favour. Of Mice and Minestrone will be published by Tachyon in May next year.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Far Tower: Stories for WB Yeats
Of Mice and Minestrone

Of Mice and Minestrone

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I’ve done a lot of cover work this year, and there are still more designs waiting to be announced. Of Mice and Minestrone isn’t my usual line of work but it’s actually the third cover I’ve done for a Joe R. Lansdale book, although the previous titles were horror and steampunk respectively. The latest volume is a collection of crime stories, and an addition to Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard books, a series about a pair of Texan detectives whose popularity now extends to a TV show.

Crime presents many of the same challenges you find in other genres, all of which come with their own set of clichés which you can either choose to engage with or avoid. In the case of crime there’s a tendency for degraded typefaces to proliferate, along with variations on a red/black/white colour scheme. One of the early drafts of this design did use a red/black/white arrangement but I was told that Joe Lansdale was (unsurprisingly) tired of seeing this scheme applied to his own books. The title of the collection comes from the opening story which concerns the young Hap’s involvement with an older woman and her abusive husband; the marital abuse is resolved via a bowl of soup which has been poisoned with a dead rat, hence the title and the cover image. I like using pareidolia when I can, and the slightly unusual imagery pushed the appearance away from generic clichés (if you discount the bullets) towards the marvellously surreal covers that Tom Adams painted for Agatha Christie’s novels.

The background photo is a rare example of my using a stock image. The soup bowl looked fine from the outset but the background lacked a suitably ominous quality, and was at risk of looking too much like a recipe book. (As it happens there are some recipes by Kasey Lansdale following the fiction although I don’t think any require the use of dead rats.) After trying a number of different table surfaces I decided on a lateral approach so went searching for pictures of Texan storm clouds. The image we eventually used—a tornado over farmland near Patricia, Texas by John Finney at Getty Images—was the second one I tried and it worked so well we decided to keep it.

Of Mice and Minestrone will be published by Tachyon in March 2020 but is available for pre-order now.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Gods of HP Lovecraft
Lovecraft’s Monsters
Ten titles and a cover
Steampunk overloaded!
New things for April

Weekend links 323

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Mescaline Woods (1969) by Gage Taylor.

• The soundtrack to The Man Who Fell to Earth will be released for the first time next month in a double-disc set (CD & vinyl). This isn’t, as some people have hoped, David Bowie’s unheard music for the film, but a collection of the pre-existing songs and other pieces, plus the original compositions by John Phillips. Consequence of Sound has a track list.

• At Scream Addicts: Joe R. Lansdale talks about the only film adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House that you need to see: the 1963 version directed by Robert Wise.

• The new wave of new age: How music’s most maligned genre finally became cool by Adam Bychawski.

• Transmissions From The Abyss: Dark ambient music for the perfect headspace by S. Elizabeth.

Jason Farrago reviews Art Aids America, an exhibition at the Bronx Museum, New York.

Curse Go Back: a limited reissue of tape experiments by William Burroughs.

Samuel Wigley on Notorious at 70: toasting Hitchcock’s dark masterpiece.

Toyah Willcox remembers working with Derek Jarman on The Tempest.

• “Why are musicians so obsessed with David Lynch?” asks Selim Bulut.

• Read the original 32-page programme for Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.

David Parkinson chooses 10 essential films starring Oliver Reed.

• Mixes of the week: The Sounds of the Dawn NTS radio shows.

Keith Haring envisions Manhattan as a kingdom of penises.

Frank Guan on Massive Attack’s Blue Lines, 25 years on.

Honky Tonk Pts 1 & 2 (1956) by Bill Doggett | I’ve Told Every Little Star (1961) by Linda Scott | I’m Deranged (1995) by David Bowie

Weekend links 301

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The Music from the Balconies (1984) by Edward Ruscha.

• At The Quietus: High-Rise director Ben Wheatley runs through his favourite films. Kudos for mentioning Elem Klimov’s Come and See (1985) among the more familiar fare, a nightmarish masterwork that everyone should watch at least once. On the same site, author Joe R. Lansdale also lists some favourite films while discussing the new TV series of his Hap and Leonard books.

Electric Hintermass (Sound Apart) by Hintermass, a track from The Apple Tree, their debut album on the Ghost Box label.

Michael Mann’s Heat: “A complex, stylistically supreme candidate for one of the most impressive films of the Nineties”.

• Despair Fatigue: David Graeber on how [political] hopelessness grew boring, and what happens next.

• Mix of the week: FACT Mix 541 by Tortoise, and Blowing Up The Workshop 56 by Eric Lanham.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: “Some books (1961–1975) that either faked ingesting LSD or did”.

• David Litvinoff again: “Was he only an opportunistic hustler?” asks David Collard.

John Carpenter’s The Thing rescored with one of the director’s Lost Themes.

Overlooked: a book by Marina Willer about the manhole covers of London.

• Pam Grossman (words) and Tin Can Forest (art) ask What is a Witch?

• A long way down: Oliver Wainwright on JG Ballard and High-Rise.

• A conversation with designer and typographer Erik Spiekermann.

• The BFI compiles a list of “The 30 Best LGBT Films of All Time“.

• Decoding the spiritual symbolism of artist Hilma af Klint.

Sabat Magazine

Heat (1983) by Soft Cell | The Heat (1985) by Peter Gabriel | Heat Miser (1994) by Massive Attack

The Gods of HP Lovecraft

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Yig for Rattled by Douglas Wynne.

Presenting one of this summer’s bigger projects, these are my drawings for The Gods of HP Lovecraft, a collection of 12 all-new stories edited by Aaron French for JournalStone. After I’d begun work I was asked whether I could illustrate all 12 stories but since I was already busy with The Monstrous it wasn’t possible. My drawings occupy the second half of the book, with the first half being filled out with suitable illustrations by Paul Carrick and Steve Santiago. The contents are as follows:

Call the Name by Adam LG Nevill (Cthulhu)
The Dark Gates by Martha Wells (Yog-Sothoth)
We Smoke the Northern Lights by Laird Barron (Azathoth)
Petohtalrayn by Bentley Little (Nyarlathotep)
The Doors that Never Close and the Doors that Are Always Open by David Liss (Shub-Niggurath)
The Apotheosis of a Rodeo Clown by Brett J. Talley (Tsathoggua)
Rattled by Douglas Wynne (Yig)
In Their Presence by Christopher Golden & James A. Moore (The Mi-Go)
Dream a Little Dream of Me by Jonathan Maberry (Nightgaunts)
In the Mad Mountains by Joe R. Lansdale (Elder Things)
A Dying of the Light by Rachel Caine (Great Race of Yith)
Down, Deep Down, Below the Waves by Seanan McGuire (The Deep Ones)

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Mi-Go for In Their Presence by Christopher Golden & James A. Moore.

Despite having produced a fair amount of Lovecraft-related illlustration there’s still some areas of his work that I haven’t touched, especially where creature portraits are concerned. So this collection features my first attempts at rendering one of the Mi-Go and one of the Yithians from The Shadow Out of Time. The latter are often represented as fearsome monsters which always strikes me as erroneous when so much description in the story is devoted to their book reading and archive building. Aliens, yes, but monsters they are not. There was some concern when I delivered the artwork that the fine lines and detail might not print so well on paperback stock but the printing is excellent throughout. I recommend this collection for anyone in the mood for some new Lovecraftian fiction.

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Night-Gaunt for Dream a Little Dream of Me by Jonathan Maberry.

Continue reading “The Gods of HP Lovecraft”