Double weird

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Two of the books whose covers I was working on late last year have been announced so here they are. This is more work for PS Publishing where wraparound covers are the standard, so once again I was able to work in a pictorial, landscape format. (PS also do their design in-house so I only did the art this time. Click on the pictures below for larger views.)

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Apostles of the Weird is a collection of contemporary weird fiction edited by ST Joshi:

Weird fiction is an incredibly rich and varied genre, running the gamut from supernatural horror to imaginary-world fantasy to psychological terror. This anthology seeks to exhibit the wide range of themes, motifs, and imagery that weird fiction allows, as embodied in the work of some of the leading contemporary writers in the field. (more)

“Weird” is indeed a very broad category so rather than try and create something that represented a single genre I opted for a weird view instead. The idea was to do something like Borges’s Library of Babel in a space that was a hybrid of Piranesi and MC Escher. I was hoping originally to make this more Escher-like, with a number of gravity-defying staircases, but the underlying drawing took so long that I didn’t have time.

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His Own Most Fantastic Creation: Stories About HP Lovecraft is also edited by ST Joshi:

HP Lovecraft (1890–1937), the pioneering writer of weird fiction, has himself become an icon in popular culture. Stories, novels, and other works featuring the gaunt, lantern-jawed gentleman from Providence, Rhode Island, have proliferated. These works have been triggered by the incredible amount of knowledge we have on the writer—his family, his friends, his idiosyncrasies and eccentricities—as found in his thousands of surviving letters. (more)

This was much easier to achieve since HP Lovecraft is familiar territory. The idea here was to do a portrait of Lovecraft situated in a Lovecraftian zone, a colossal idol of a type that might be found in some of his Cyclopean ruins. Lovecraft and his Weird Tales colleagues had a habit of referring to each other in their stories and letters as though they were ancient priests or sorcerers so portraying Lovecraft in this manner is fitting. The combination of perspective and lighting worked against creating an accurate likeness, however—it doesn’t help that Lovecraft’s features are weird in themselves—so the “HPL” icon is there to affirm the identity.

Both books will be published next month if Great Cthulhu hasn’t risen from the depths by then.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Something from Below

Weekend links 218

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The End of a Thousand Years (2014) by Hilary White. Via Phantasmaphile.

• It’s taken a while to shamble into the world but A Mountain Walked, an anthology of Cthulhu Mythos stories edited by leading Lovecraft scholar ST Joshi, will be published by Centipede Press next month. The publisher’s page for the book shows that my contribution will be facing Joshi’s introduction which is something I wasn’t aware of until this week. It also says the 692-page limited edition is sold out, although book dealers often buy collectible volumes such as this to sell on after adding their own markup. Be warned that it was listed on Amazon at $160 so if there are copies available anywhere they won’t be cheap.

• It’s not such a surprise to hear that magic mushrooms were an inspiration for Frank Herbert’s Dune. David Lynch’s film of Dune receives passing mention in this profile by Jeremy Kay of Lynch and the Twin Peaks film/TV series.

• “Whitechapel station is one of Giambattista Piranesi’s imaginary prisons, colonised by frantic electrical engineers and watched over by CCTV.” Will Wiles on the chaos and tangled energy of modern cities.

The word perfume comes from the French root “fume”—smoke—and where there’s smoke, there’s fire! I think most people are turned on sexually by scents and smells. Certain body odours can be very sexually stimulating. We purposefully chose certain ingredients for my Obscenity perfume that are associated with occult or religious rituals, including vetiver, labdanum, and oud, and others that are considered aphrodisiacal, including patchouli and sandalwood. The point of Obscenity is that there is no conflict between the religious and the sexual, and in fact they should be completely complimentary. The fragrance is meant to stimulate you sexually, but it also literally contains water from Lourdes, so it also has religious notes and perhaps even healing properties!

Bruce LaBruce talks to Kathy Grayson about his new fragrance, Obscenity

The Baffler, “a journal of iconoclastic wit and cultural analysis” relaunches with full access to its archives from 1988 to the present.

Pineal, the new album by Othon, is dark and “properly, brilliantly queer,” says David Peschek.

• At Core77: How to improve the audio quality of vinyl records with wood glue.

• P. Adams Sitney interviews Kenneth Anger on WNYC’s Arts Forum (1972).

• At BibliOdyssey: Le Bestiaire Fabuleux by Jean Lurçat.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen mix 123 by Evol.

Meawbin the Creepy Cat

Perfumed Metal (1981) by Chrome | Fragrance (Ode To Perfume) (1982) by Holger Czukay | The Perfume (2006) by Johnny Klimek, Reinhold Heil, Tom Tykwer

Angkor Wat street view

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The ruined temple complex of Angkor Wat is another of those places for which I maintain a cult fascination despite never having been there. I’ve posted links to panoramas of Angkor Wat in the past but Google recently added the complex to their Street View catalogue, so you now have the opportunity to see the fabled Nagas in their natural habitat: surrounded by garishly-clad tourists.

A large part of the attraction of places such as this involves the promise of deterioration and isolation, two qualities kept remote by the site’s World Heritage status. I imagine a visit to Angkor would be like the visit I paid to the ruins of Hadrian’s villa outside Rome, the well-tended bones of a formerly splendid construction. Hadrian’s villa is still worth a visit even if you won’t ever see it overgrown by foliage the way it was in Piranesi’s day.

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Continue reading “Angkor Wat street view”

Two covers

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More new work of mine has been unveiled in the past few days so I can show these here. The Buried Life and Cities and Thrones are a pair of fantasy novels by new author Carrie Patel being published by Angry Robot. I was asked to provide something in an engraved style set against a black background, with imagery that reflected themes of vast, underground architecture and armed conflict.

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Vast architecture of any description is something I’ve always enjoyed, the main challenge with each book came in trying to imply the architecture and events without the pictorial content becoming incoherent. Marc at Angry Robot asked for something Piranesian where the architecture was concerned. Looking over Piranesi’s non-Carceri designs didn’t turn up anything with a suitably dramatic perspective, however, so most of what you see in the first cover comes from Giuseppe Galli Bibiena’s Architetture e Prospettive (1740). The Bibienas were a family of architects and theatrical engineers who specialised in dizzying perspective views for their stage designs; Bibiena’s book was produced to preserve some of his more celebrated designs, the originals of which are now lost. I’ve had a book of these drawings for years but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to make use of them in any kind of collage.

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This style of Baroque architecture doesn’t suit steampunk imagery which tends towards 19th-century urban/industrial; the plates are also rather staid scenes without the graphic flare that Piranesi gave to everything he rendered, real or imagined. But I do like those plunging perspectives, and pieces from two of the plates turned out to share both the same perspective and the same lighting direction. It’s easy to collage things into a flat view but creating a realistic sense of depth from bits and pieces can be tricky.

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The frame for the second cover has more of a Piranesian quality being chipped and eroded. The typography for the titles went through several changes, the versions here show a late suggestion of mine with lettering that’s probably too thin to read well at a distance (or a small size on a web page). SF Signal has a post showing the Angry Robot versions which will probably be the final ones, together with a preview of the first book.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Aldous Huxley on Piranesi’s Prisons

Weekend links 203

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A Dune-inspired piece by Joshua Budich for In Dreams: an art show tribute to David Lynch at Spoke Art.

• “[Montague] Summers was a friend of Aleister Crowley and, like [Jacques d’Adelswärd] Fersen, conducted homoerotic black masses; whatever eldritch divinity received their entreaties was evidently propitiated by nude youths.” Strange Flowers goes in search of the Reverend Summers.

• More Jarmania: Veronica Horwell on the theatrical life of Derek Jarman, Paul Gallagher on When Derek Jarman met William Burroughs, and Scott Treleaven on Derek Jarman’s Advice to a Young Queer Artist.

Robert Henke of Monolake talks to Secret Thirteen about his electronic music. More electronica: analogue-synth group Node have recorded a new album, their first since their debut in 1995.

This hypertrophied response to decay and dilapidation is what drives the “ruin gaze”, a kind of steroidal sublime that enables us to enlarge the past because we cannot enlarge the present. When ruin-meister Giovanni Piranesi introduced human figures into his “Views of Rome”, they were always disproportionately small in relation to his colossal (and colossally inaccurate) wrecks of empire. It’s not that Piranesi, an architect, couldn’t do the maths: he wasn’t trying to document the remains so much as translate them into a grand melancholic view. As Marguerite Yourcenar put it, Piranesi was not only the interpreter but “virtually the inventor of Rome’s tragic beauty”. His “sublime dreams”, Horace Walpole said, had conjured “visions of Rome beyond what it boasted even in the meridian of its splendour”.

Frances Stonor Saunders on How ruins reveal our deepest fears and desires.

Gustave Doré. L’imaginaire au pouvoir: Four short films from the Musée d’Orsay to accompany their current exhibition, Gustave Doré (1832–1883): Master of Imagination.

• At Dangerous Minds: Remembering Cathy Berberian, the hippest—and funniest—lady of avant-garde classical music.

• “Merely a Man of Letters”: Jorge Luis Borges interviewed in 1977 by Denis Dutton & Michael Palencia-Roth.

Luke Epplin on Big as Life (1966), a science-fiction novel by EL Doctorow which the author has since disowned.

The Psychomagical Realism of Alejandro Jodorowsky: Eric Benson talks to the tireless polymath.

• A video essay by Matt Zoller Seitz for the 10th anniversary of David Milch’s Deadwood.

Eugene Brennan on Scott Walker’s The Climate of Hunter (1984).

Dune at Pinterest.

• Prophecy Theme from Dune (1984) by Brian Eno | Olivine (1995) by Node | Gobi 110 35′ south 45 58′ (1999) by Monolake