A view over Yuggoth

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I mentioned in the post about the Sherlock Holmes illustrations that the next book from Editorial Alma featuring my work would be another Lovecraft collection. One of the illustrations in the new volume was of the planet Yuggoth, a world known to human beings as Pluto. In Lovecraft’s mythos Yuggoth has long been an outpost of advanced alien civilisations, particularly the fungoid crustaceans of The Whisperer in Darkness and the splendidly-titled sonnet sequence Fungi from Yuggoth. I’d broached this subject a couple of times in the past, first with a panel in my Haunter of the Dark comic strip (the Shining Trapezohedron is described as being brought to Earth from Yuggoth) then with a photocopy collage of Haeckel organisms for the first Starry Wisdom collection.

Yuggoth is one of several alien outposts in Lovecraft’s fiction, allied in its remoteness from humans with the underwater city of R’lyeh and the Antarctic city in At the Mountains of Madness. All these locations suggest exotic architecture so they’ve long been some of my favourite features in Lovecraft’s work, hence this new piece which I couldn’t resist doing after completing work on the Alma book. Since I acquired a Wacom tablet four years ago I’ve become so used to using it for line drawing that working with it now feels as natural as working with pens and inks. But digital painting was something I still didn’t feel happy with. This is mainly because the brush options in Photoshop are limitless, and one thing I’ve never liked with art materials is too much choice. When I was working with physical media I used to use a minimum of pens and brushes so what I really wanted from Photoshop was a single brush that would do what I wanted without having to swap tools all the time when working. This view of Yuggoth is the result of having finally settled (by chance, as it happened) on a brush that does everything I want without getting in the way. The drawing was completely improvised so as a composition it has some flaws; it could also have been developed a lot more to bring out highlights and details. But as an experimental piece it worked out well and also didn’t take too very long to do. When I have the time I’ll be doing more with this new brush.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Thing on the Doorstep
Leather Cthulhu unleashed
Leather Cthulhu
The Gods of HP Lovecraft
Lovecraftiana calendar
Providential
NecronomiCon Providence 2015
Yuggoth details
A Mountain Walked
Lovecraft’s Monsters unleashed
Lovecraft’s Monsters
JK Potter and HP Lovecraft
Cthulhu Labyrinth
Tentacles #4: Cthulhu in Poland
Cthulhu Calendar
S. Latitude 47°9, W. Longitude 126°43
Resurgam variations
De Profundis
H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction
Heavy Metal, October 1979: the Lovecraft special
Cthulhoid and Artflakes
Cthulhu for sale
Cthulhu God
Cthulhu under glass
CthulhuPress
The monstrous tome
Cubist Cthulhu

Weekend links 369

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Untitled painting by Serbian Surrealist Ljuba Popovic (1934–2016). I missed the announcement of Popovic’s death last year.

Bryan Washington on the radical grace of Gengoroh Tagame: My Brother’s Husband and the tradition of gay manga. Where bara artists are concerned, I favour the work of Mentaiko Itto. Bruno Gmünder recently published a collection in English.

• At madrotter-treasure-hunt: Post punk from old tapes; “Some live recordings from concerts in Holland from Charles Hayward and from This Heat, Metabolist, Pere Ubu, Holger Hiller…”

Dennis Cooper‘s favourite fiction, poetry, non-fiction, film, music, art & internet of 2017 so far. (Thanks again for the nod to this blog!)

The Weird and the Eerie is an evocative and carefully-written short study in cultural aesthetics. Far from the familiar line-up of vampires, zombies, and demons, Fisher’s eclectic examples speak directly to one of the central themes of the horror genre: the limits of human knowledge, the metamorphic shapes of fear, and the blurriness of boundaries of all types. His simple conceptual distinction quickly gives way to reversals, permutations, and complications, ultimately refusing any notion of a monstrous or alien unhumanness “out there”; with Fisher, the unhuman is more likely to reside within the human itself (or as Lovecraft might write it, “the unhuman is discovered to reside within the human itself”).

Many books on the horror genre are concerned with providing answers, using varieties of taxonomy and psychology to provide a therapeutic application to “our” lives, helping us to cathartically purge collective anxieties and fears. For Fisher, the emphasis is more on questions, questions that target the vanity and presumptuousness of human culture, questions regarding human consciousness elevating itself above all else, questions concerning the presumed sovereignty of the species at whatever cost – perhaps questions it’s better not to pose, at the risk of undermining the entire endeavour to begin with.

Eugene Thacker reviewing The Weird and the Eerie by Mark Fisher. I’ve not read Fisher’s book yet (I’m intending to) but I was pleased to see one of my illustrations of R’lyeh accompanying the piece.

• At Dirge Magazine: Gwendolyn Nix on Twisted Labyrinths, Dark Mazes, and Ancient Methods of Reflection.

• Mixes of the week: XLR8R podcast 498 by Nicola Kazimir, and Secret Thirteen Mix 227 by Sculpture.

AO Scott reviews Endless Poetry, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s surreal self-portrait.

Maze Of Love (1968) by The Dave Clark Five | Audiomaze (2000) by Tabla Beat Science | Into The Maze (2012) by Pye Corner Audio

Leather Cthulhu unleashed

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The beautiful leatherbound Complete Cthulhu Mythos Tales is officially published this Friday but the books are in Barnes & Noble stores already, and my complimentary copies arrived this week. Photos don’t do justice to the volumes in this series of classic reprints, you really need to hold one to see how well made they are. The leather is smooth and flawlessly printed—I was worried that I might have pushed the limits with some of the details in my cover design but every line and edge is where it should be. The pages of this particular volume are edged with gold, an effect applied to some of the books I’ve designed for Savoy but an uncommon thing in today’s book world.

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As I mentioned earlier, this edition also features endpapers showing details of my R’lyeh spread from The Call of Cthulhu, plus a poster of my Cthulhu Rising piece from 2004. Which leads to an important note for purchasers: the temporary glue that fixes the poster to the back endpapers, and the ad sheet (see below) to the back cover was stronger than intended so care needs to be taken when detaching these items from the book. I’ve been told that a warning about this will be added to the next batch of books, and the glue (which is that clear stuff used to fix things to magazine covers) will also be changed.

A couple more photos and a list of contents follow below. I’ve worked on a lot of books over the years but this one is up there with the very best; Lovecraft’s finest fiction in a single gorgeous volume, and all for $20.

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Continue reading “Leather Cthulhu unleashed”

Leather Cthulhu

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A couple of the projects I’ve been working on for the past few months have yet to be made public but this one from last September has finally shambled into the light of day. The Complete Cthulhu Mythos Tales is a collection of 23 weird tales by HP Lovecraft (some of which are his collaborations with other writers) published by Barnes & Noble in their leatherbound Collectible Editions series. Anyone who’s held one of these volumes will know that they deserve to be called tomes rather than mere books; they’re heavy and lavishly produced, with detailed designs embossed on the front and back boards in a variety of metallic inks.

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One of my drawings was used a few years ago inside the big B&N edition of Lovecraft’s collected fiction; more recently I also designed a cover for a B&N paperback edition of the Cthulhu Mythos tales but the brief on that occasion was for something quick using pre-existing artwork. Given that the Mythos stories are my favourites in Lovecraft’s oeuvre I would have preferred to have done something more elaborate so I was very pleased when asked last year to create a new design for this hardback edition. The design on the front panel presented some challenges as I didn’t want to have an isolated head with wings but I also didn’t want to reduce the Cthulhu figure to such an extent that detail would be compromised. (This type of embossed printing imposes a limit on the amount of detail you can put into the design.) The compromise was a frontal view of what I consider to be another Cthulhu Sphinx, after the more elaborate sculpted design in my adaptation of The Call of Cthulhu. I find myself wondering now how this creature might look from the side.

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The photos of the boards are courtesy of Betsy Beier at Barnes & Noble, and they show how much more effective the printed design is when you have the light reflecting on it. I’m now eagerly awaiting the arrival of a physical copy. The book will be out at the end of the month, and among the extra features there’s an introduction by Lovecraft scholar ST Joshi, my drawing of R’lyeh on the endpapers, and (if that wasn’t enough) a poster reproduction of my Cthulhu Rising picture.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
The Gods of HP Lovecraft
Lovecraftiana calendar
Providential
NecronomiCon Providence 2015
Yuggoth details
A Mountain Walked
Lovecraft’s Monsters unleashed
Lovecraft’s Monsters
JK Potter and HP Lovecraft
Cthulhu Labyrinth
Tentacles #4: Cthulhu in Poland
Cthulhu Calendar
S. Latitude 47°9, W. Longitude 126°43
Resurgam variations
De Profundis
H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction
Heavy Metal, October 1979: the Lovecraft special
Cthulhoid and Artflakes
Cthulhu for sale
Cthulhu God
Cthulhu under glass
CthulhuPress
The monstrous tome
Cubist Cthulhu

Weird metal

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Weird metal isn’t A Thing, is it? I reckon it ought to be A Thing, especially when so much black/death/doom/drone metal intersects with The Weird. I mentioned last month that British doomsters The Wounded Kings had used my De Profundis piece for the gatefold and poster insert in their reissue of The Shadow Over Atlantis. My copy of the album arrived this week; it’s a handsome production that sounds tremendous so I’m very pleased to be associated with it. The relationship to Cthulhu isn’t as overt as more well-known compositions such as The Call of Ktulu by Metallica or Cthulhu Dawn by Cradle of Filth. But those are one-off pieces whereas The Shadow Over Atlantis sustains its atmosphere of cosmic dread throughout. It’s available from Ván Records, and I recommend it highly.

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All of which reminded me that my Lovecraftian art has featured sporadically in the metal world over the past few years. In the margins of my discographic work you’ll find the following releases.

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Thought-Cathedral (2000) by Of Trees and Orchids.

The perennially popular view of R’lyeh is featured on the cover of the second album by a German death metal band who later changed their name to Ingurgitating Oblivion. Inside the CD there’s also a detail from a Cthulhu drawing of mine.

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Azathoth (2007) by Azathoth.

There are many bands named after Lovecraft’s chaotic deity. This group is from the US, and this EP is their only substantial release to date.

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Demonstration 1998 (2009) by Portal.

And there are many groups named Portal. This lot are Australian, and have been going longer than most. Demonstration 1998 is a reissue on 7-inch vinyl of a cassette demo from 1998; the sleeve art shows a fuzzy detail from my R’lyeh spread from The Call of Cthulhu. Nobody asked permission to use the artwork, I only discovered this release since I get a credit for it on Discogs. So there may well be other releases out there that I haven’t seen yet. If you know of one then leave a comment or send an email.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Shadow Over Atlantis by The Wounded Kings
Rock shirts
De Profundis