Weekend links 408

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Kujaku (2018) by Yasuto Sasada.

• “The Ernst picture [Of This Men Shall Know Nothing] has also been interpreted as depicting sexual alchemy, which also ties in with much of Peter Grey’s writing on Babalon and the goddess’ connection to sexual magic and the three ‘Fs’: f(e)asting, flagellation and fucking!” Hawthonn’s Phil & Layla Legard talk to Folk Horror Revival about their superb new album, Red Goddess (of this men shall know nothing).

• South London “Psychic Circuit”: A walk with London writer Iain Sinclair inspired by cult writer Steve Moore—from Shooter’s Hill and the Shrewsbury burial mound to Charlton House then Maryon Park and the locations used in Antonioni’s Blow Up.

• Czech filmmaker Juraj Herz, director of The Cremator (1969) and Morgiana (1972), died last week. One of his later films, The Ninth Heart (1978), featured an animated title sequence by Jan Svankmajer and Eva Svankmajerova.

• The week in psychedelic visuals: Ben Marks on Bill Ham’s San Francisco light shows (a piece from 2016), and Dangerous Minds on Astralvision’s Electric Light Voyage (1979), a light show on Betamax tape.

• “From glaciers to nuclear bunkers, photographer Chloe Dewe Mathews descends into the dark heart of the Swiss mountains that inspired Mary Shelley.”

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 250 by Sote, and XLR8R Podcast 537 by SNTS.

When The Horses Were Shorn Of Their Hooves, new music by Dylan Carlson.

Emily Temple on Edward Gorey’s illustrated covers for literary classics.

Hidden Hydrology: Coil’s Lost Rivers studio sessions.

Tube: Minimalist YouTube search

Sukhdev Sandhu is In Wild Air

• Lost Roads (1988) by Bill Laswell | Lost Sanctum (1994) by Lull | Lost Ways (2016) by Pye Corner Audio

Weekend links 402

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Cover art for the 1921 edition by W. Otway Cannell.

• “An exiled recluse, an ancient abode in the remote west of Ireland, nightly attacks by malevolent swine-things from a nearby pit, and cosmic vistas beyond time and space. The House on the Borderland has been praised by China Miéville, Terry Pratchett, and Clark Ashton Smith, while HP Lovecraft wrote, ‘Few can equal [Hodgson] in adumbrating the nearness of nameless forces and monstrous besieging entities through casual hints and significant details, or in conveying feelings of the spectral and abnormal.’

“‘Almost from the moment that you hear the title,’ observes Alan Moore, ‘you are infected by the novel’s weird charisma. Knock and enter at your own liability.’ The House on the Borderland remains one of Hodgson’s most celebrated works. This new edition features an introduction by Alan Moore, an afterword by Iain Sinclair, and illustrations by John Coulthart.” The long-gestating illustrated edition of William Hope Hodgson’s The House on the Borderland is now available for pre-order from Swan River Press. This is limited to 350 copies so I’d advise anyone interested to order as soon as they can; there’s been a lot of interest in the edition, and with the print run being a small one it’s liable to sell out quickly.

• “Art et Liberté was a movement that came into being in 1938 in Cairo. It was affiliated to Surrealism through contact with André Breton in Paris, and shared Surrealism’s spirit of rebellion and provocation, its desire for dream knowledge and penchant for manifestos.” Marina Warner on the neglected history of Egyptian Surrealism.

• Titan Comics follow their recent collection of Philippe Druillet’s first six Lone Sloane stories with Gail, a book which I don’t think has received an English translation until now.

• Mixes of the week: FACT mix 641 by Alva Noto, a mix by Chris Carter for Bleep/NTS, and Through A Landscape Of Mirrors Vol. I: Sweden by David Colohan.

• 200 years after the first publication of Frankenstein, the city of Bath is to unveil a plaque commemorating Mary Shelley‘s time spent there while writing the book.

• Southern Lord co-founder Gregg Anderson talks to Red Bull Radio about running a record label devoted to avant-garde metal.

• Twelve illustrated dust jackets from Martin Salisbury’s The Illustrated Dust Jacket: 1920–1970.

• At MetaFilter: Links to Hokusai’s drawing guides and similar books.

Canada Modern

Grief (1999) by Tactile | In The Cellar (2005) by Nostalgia | The House On The Borderland (2008) by Electric Wizard

Illustrating Frankenstein

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Frontispiece by Theodore Von Holst of the 1831 edition of Frankenstein. The monster in this illustration, which Mary Shelley would no doubt have seen, is closer to the description in the text than the myriad shambling figures that came later.

It’s a recurrent feature of commissioned work that you sometimes find yourself illustrating novels or stories you might otherwise have never attempted. Spanish publisher Editorial Alma have just added a new edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to their series of illustrated classics, convenient timing with this year being the bicentenary of the book’s first publication. Last year I produced 33 illustrations for Alma’s collection of Poe stories, as well as 3 new illustrations for a small Lovecraft collection. For their edition of Frankenstein I’ve created 24 full-page pictures, one for each chapter. (I produced 25 in total, 24 for the chapters and one for the letters at the front, but the Spanish translation is arranged slightly differently so one of the drawings has been omitted.) In the past I’ve given little consideration to illustrating classic books, preferring to look for subjects which were less familiar. Frankenstein is a book that isn’t illustrated as much as some but Lynd Ward in 1934, and Bernie Wrightson in 1977/78 both produced sufficiently exceptional sets of drawings for me to regard the novel as almost unassailable. Until last year, that is.

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Frankenstein by Lynd Ward (1934).

Despite such formidable predecessors, I felt that with this book at least I might be able to offer something new using the blend of collage and drawing that I’ve been evolving recently. There was additional promise in that the story as it’s written is less familiar than the Poe stories, and much less familiar than its fellow horror classic, Dracula. People think they know Frankenstein but what they often know is the manglings the novel has received in various film and TV adaptations. The Ward and Wrightson illustrations stay close to the text, the latter being replete with period detail, and rendered in a style reminiscent of 19th-century wood engravings. Wrightson even copied two of Gustave Dore’s pictures from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner for the opening scenes on the ship, one of which went unused. But Wrightson’s drawings are closer still to Franklin Booth‘s pen-and-ink style which was also derived from wood engraving yet which achieves its effects in a different manner to the engraving process.

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Frankenstein by Bernie Wrightson (1977/78).

Even when artists follow the text of Frankenstein more closely than the screenplay adapters, personal tastes can’t help manifest themselves. So Ward’s drawings reflect the angular and stylised compositions of his “novels in woodcuts”, while Wrightson’s work still shows evidence of his earlier career as a comic artist. With my illustrations I wanted to reflect the artistic spirit that gave birth to the novel, namely Romanticism. Frankenstein is very much a Romantic tragedy with violent passions set against the overwhelming landscapes of the Swiss Alps, the Rhine valley and the Arctic seas. Three of the illustrations below allude to Caspar David Friedrich’s paintings, while many of the others have had their mundane cloudscapes exchanged for gloom and tumult.

I’ve said before that one of the things I enjoy about the collage technique is being able to use engravings and other graphics from the same period (give or take a few decades) as the story itself. The disadvantage of relying on pre-existing sources is that you’re always limited by the available material, so recently I’ve been pushing the technique further to achieve a hybrid style, something midway between the Ernst/Sätty engraving-collage technique and the very laborious, heavily-shaded pen-and-ink style I used when I was drawing comics. The approach isn’t so different to the one I used in my Lovecraft comics many of whose backgrounds and other details were copied from photographs. The difference is that where I used to spend several days working on a single panel (and two weeks working on a page) I can now create an entire picture in half the time. In these new illustrations I feel the hybrid style is working as I intended, allowing me greater freedom to create the picture I have in mind rather than a picture dictated by the source material. Without incorporating original figures and other drawn elements into the compositions it would have been difficult to illustrate a story with the same characters in so many scenes, a problem I encountered when I was illustrating Lewis Carroll’s Alice books and ran out of pictures of Victorian girls.

The full run of pictures follows below, including the one which was omitted from the print edition. All may be seen at a larger size here. Since the scenes aren’t always self-explanatory I’ve included fragments of text from each chapter.

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“In the morning, however, as soon as it was light, I went upon deck and found all the sailors busy on one side of the vessel, apparently talking to someone in the sea. It was, in fact, a sledge, like that we had seen before, which had drifted towards us in the night on a large fragment of ice.”

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“During one of their walks a poor cot in the foldings of a vale attracted their notice as being singularly disconsolate, while the number of half-clothed children gathered about it spoke of penury in its worst shape.”

This one was omitted from the Alma edition. No loss, really, since the scene doesn’t add much to the story.

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“When I returned home my first care was to procure the whole works of this author, and afterwards of Paracelsus and Albertus Magnus. I read and studied the wild fancies of these writers with delight; they appeared to me treasures known to few besides myself.”

The diagrams here are taken from some of the books the young Victor Frankenstein is reading. There’s an allusion to this in the magic square on the wall in the back of Theodore Von Holst’s frontispiece, the square being the kind of thing seen in books like this one by Cornelius Agrippa, one of the occult philosophers mentioned in the novel.

Continue reading “Illustrating Frankenstein”

Weekend links 394

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Britain’s Royal Mint acknowledges this year’s bicentenary of the publication of Frankenstein with a commemorative £2 coin.

• A trailer for The Green Fog, a film by Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson, which uses clips from over 200 films set in and around San Francisco to create a collage companion to (and critique of) Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. John DeFore reviewed the film for The Hollywood Reporter.

• Downloadable sound files and utilities for the Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument. Should you require it, the file containing the orchestra stab that was a feature of so much pop music in the 1980s is ORCH5. (Click on the “Library/Disk” listing then click “Extract” to download the samples.)

• Radio at the Internet Archive: the BBC adaptations of Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan and Gormenghast (both adapted by Brian Sibley in 1984); and 554 Sherlock Holmes radio shows.

• Mixes of the week: XLR8R Podcast 523 by Scanner, RA Podcast 605 by Chris SSG, and Secret Thirteen Mix 241 by Jaroska.

• At Discogs: a list of “Experiments, gimmick and concept albums, bands and labels“.

Patrick Cowley The Ultimate Master Megamix

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Karen Black Day.

Events In Dense Fog (1978) by Brian Eno | Fog Animal (2005) by Deaf Center | In The Fog I (2011) by Tim Hecker

Lynd Ward’s Frankenstein

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Mary Shelley’s novel illustrated in woodcuts by the great Lynd Ward (1905–1985). This edition appeared in 1934, a couple of years after the release of James Whale’s first Frankenstein film whose popularity may have led to its commission. It’s good to see Dover Publications keeping this one in print when first editions go for hundreds of pounds. VTS has more of the illustrations (there’s also this site), and many more examples of Ward’s work.

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Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Two Brides
Berni Wrightson’s Frankenstein
Cain’s son: the incarnations of Grendel
Gods’ Man by Lynd Ward