Weekend links 505

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An imaginary book cover by Toby Melville-Brown.

• At the Internet Archive (for a change): Directory 1979, a collection of John Cooper Clarke’s poetry designed by Barney Bubbles; 25 issues of Wrapped in Plastic, the magazine devoted to all things David Lynch; and Cinefantastique, 1970–2002, the magazine about special effects in cinema whose making-of articles were often the first such analyses published anywhere. No contents list for the latter, unfortunately, but the covers shown here give an idea of the main features.

• “Physicist Andreas Schinner recounted a rumor that the Voynich manuscript can be ‘pure poison’ for a scholarly career, because when studying the manuscript there’s ‘always an easy option to make a ridiculous mistake.'” Jillian Foley on the strange quest to decipher the Voynich manuscript.

• At the BFI: Stephen Puddicombe examines six mysterious paintings on film, and Anna Bogutskaya selects ten examples of Lovecraftian cinema. Regarding the latter, I deplore the omission of Huan Vu’s Die Farbe (2011).

• In The Driver’s Seat: Neil Fox on the demented fun of Nicolas Winding Refn’s streaming site for cinematic obscurities, ByNWR.

• “Feed your head”: Akim Reinhardt on the progress of a White Rabbit from Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s novel to Grace Slick’s song.

• Mixes of the week: Marshland: The Andrew Weatherall Mix, and Music’s Not For Everyone, hours of Weatherall mixes at NTS.

Borderland, an album of music by Fordell Research Unit based on The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson.

• At Dangerous Minds: Thirteen-year-old Mariangela and her adventurous pop album, produced by Vangelis, 1975.

• Heavy Metal, Year One: Kory Grow on the inside story of Black Sabbath’s groundbreaking debut.

• “Theire Soe Admirable Herbe”: How the English Found Cannabis by Benjamin Breen.

Derek Jarman and friends in Dungeness: unseen pictures.

Closing periods at Flickr.

Heavy Rock (1976) by Sound Dimension | Heavy Denim (1994) by Stereolab | Heavy Soul (2002) by The Black Keys

Illustrating Zothique

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Cover art by George Barr, 1970.

A few years ago I wrote a short piece about Virgil Finlay’s illustrations for a Zothique story by Clark Ashton Smith, The Garden of Adompha, so this post may be regarded as a more substantial sequel. If Smith remains something of a cult author then Zothique is the pre-eminent cult creation from his career as a writer of weird fiction. Most of Smith’s stories can be grouped together according to their location: Atlantis, Hyperborea, Averoigne in medieval France, the planet Mars, and so on. Zothique was a more original conception than his other worlds, being the last continent on Earth in the final years of the planet, an idea which had precedents in earlier novels such as William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land but which hadn’t been used before as a setting for a cycle of stories. The distant future suggests science fiction but, as with the Zothique-influenced Dying Earth of Jack Vance, science and technology is long-forgotten and sorcery rules the day. The poetry that Smith wrote before he took to writing short stories had a distinctly Decadent quality—”like a verbal Gustave Moreau painting“—and Zothique is a richly Decadent world, with the entire planet in a state of decay along with its barbarous, demon-worshipping peoples.

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Weird Tales, September 1932. Art by T. Wyatt Nelson.

All the Zothique stories had their first printings in Weird Tales, a magazine that ran illustrations with most contributions, but unless you’re a pulp collector many of the illustrations have been difficult to see until very recently. One of the pleasures of looking through fiction magazines is seeing how their stories might have been illustrated when they were first published. Popular tales eventually find their way into book collections but their illustrations tend to be marooned in the titles where they first appeared unless the artist is of sufficient merit to warrant a collection of their own.

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Weird Tales, March 1933. Art by Jayem Wilcox.

The examples here are all from recent uploads at the Internet Archive which now has a complete run of Weird Tales from 1923 to 1954. The illustrations also run in order of publication with links to the relevant issues, although I agree with Lin Carter’s ordering of the stories. Smith never organised them himself, and the later reprints from Arkham House and others tend to scatter them through separate volumes. When Lin Carter edited the Zothique collection in 1970 he put the stories into an order that follows the very loose chronology running through the cycle.

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Weird Tales, January 1934. Art by Clark Ashton Smith.

One surprise of this search was discovering that Smith himself had provided illustrations for several of the stories. Some Smith enthusiasts like his drawings and paintings but I’m afraid I’m not among them, his sculpture work is better. It’s doubtful that these would have been printed at all if they weren’t the work of the author.

Continue reading “Illustrating Zothique”

Weekend links 477

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Edge of Industry (2009) by Anne Starling.

• “In her darkroom with her silver salts and gelatine plates, she experimented with the mercurial effects of light, time and temperature.” Hailey Maxwell on the photographic art of Dora Maar.

• A Visionary Work Renew’d: A conversational review of Swan River Press edition of William Hope Hodgson’s The House on the Borderland by the late Sam Gafford & The joey Zone.

Brian Blomerth’s graphic novel Bicycle Day tells the story of the psychedelic ride made in 1943 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann while he was researching LSD.

• “The cinema is not the industrial cinema. The cinema is independent cinema.” Francis Ford Coppola on Apocalypse Now and related matters.

• More lunacy: “Fireworks, wild swans and super-cannons were propelling people mentally Moonwards long before 1969,” says David Seed.

• Mix of the week: Then Beautiful Swift Sparrows Led You Over the Black Earth by The Ephemeral Man.

Working (You Are), a new recording by Stephen Mallinder, his first solo work since Pow Wow in 1982.

Lost Proust stories of homosexual love finally published (but only in French for the moment).

Oren Ambarchi‘s favourite albums.

My White Bicycle (1967) by Tomorrow | Trip On An Orange Bicycle (1968) by The Orange Bicycle | Blue Bicycle (2008) by Hauschka

Weekend links 454

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Octopus and Pike (1937) by Ilna Ewers-Wunderwald.

• At Expanding Mind: writer and avant-garde publisher Tosh Berman talks with Erik Davis growing up in postwar California, hipster sexism, the hippie horrors of Topanga canyon, his impressions of family friends like Cameron and Brian Jones, and his charming new memoir Tosh, about growing up with his father, the remarkable underground California artist Wallace Berman.

• At Haute Macabre: A Sentiment of Spirits: Conversations with Handsome Devils Puppets.

• “We felt a huge responsibility.” Behind the landmark Apollo 11 documentary.

Jarman’s work was a statement that conservatism did not, or at least should not, define the perception of Britishness. His vision extended all of the way back to the likes of William Blake, John Dee and Gerard Winstanley, the radicals, mystics and outcasts of English history. His era, on the other hand, looked inwards and pessimistically so. The outward world was solely a free market. Our projected national identity was little else but the retread of colonial fantasies, a faux benevolence to the world that handily discarded the violence and tyranny that built it. Jarman saw through this imaginary landscape, often skewering it in his films.

Adam Scovell on the much-missed radicalism of Derek Jarman

• Director Nicolas Winding Refn: “Film is not an art-form any more.”

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 281 by Blakk Harbor.

• At Greydogtales: Hope Hodgson and the Haunted Ear.

Hans Prinzhorn’s Artistry of the Mentally Ill (1922).

Michael Rother‘s favourite albums.

Renaissance metal

Puppet Theatre (1984) by Thomas Dolby | Puppet Motel (1994) by Laurie Anderson | Maybe You’re My Puppet (2002) by Cliff Martinez

Weekend links 444

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Visions Cosmiques—Improvisations Dédiées À L’équipage D’Apollo 8 (1969) by Jean Guillou. No designer credited.

• 50 years ago this weekend Apollo 8 was on its way to the Moon. Jean Guillou’s album of organ improvisations took the mission as its inspiration although his turbulent music seems more suited to the near-disaster of Apollo 13 than the weightless drift of space travel. The album has been out-of-print for decades but may be heard in full here and here. Related: the Discogs listing for the Philips’ Prospective 21e Siècle series of avant-garde music. Most of the other albums in this series remain unreissued, and are now very collectible, not least because of their metallic “Heliophore” sleeves.

• Christmas cheer be damned: the spook season extends from Halloween to the end of the year. At These Unquiet Things, Sarah Chavez offers a list of favourite seasonal vampires, witches and ghosts. For those who prefer something televisual that isn’t more MR James, The Lorelei (1990) is a feature-length supernatural drama written by Nick Dunning. And speaking of the unavoidable James, Sarah K Marr presents an annotated analysis of A Warning to the Curious embellished with her excellent photos of the area of the Norfolk coast where the story is set.

• At Bandcamp: Voltaic Liturgies: “A symbiosis of flesh, machinery and umbral cosmic mysticism” by Primitive Knot and The Wyrding Module; and In The Sunshine We Rode The Horses by Rowan : Morrison (Rowan Amber Mill with Angeline Morrison): “The album explores themes of our beautiful natural surroundings, and how the pursuit of profit guides us to learn ‘the cost of everything and the value of nothing’, paving the way for the scarring of the landscape with fracking, HS2, retail parks, and so on…”

• “Influential Manga Artist Gengoroh Tagame on Upending Traditional Japanese Culture”. Tagame is also a prolific gay porn illustrator, a part of his career the headline avoids although it is acknowledged in Anne Ishii’s interview.

• Mixes of the week: Dream Perception Mix by Moon Wiring Club, Strange Great Snow: A Conjuror’s Hexmas by Seraphic Manta, December’s Reverie by Cafekaput, and Secret Thirteen Mix 275 by CoH.

• On the Scary Thoughts podcast: Erik Davis on philosophical pessimism, cosmic horror, police procedurals, serial killers, gnostic notions, and Louisiana as featured in the first season of True Detective.

• Manuscripts, letters and other documents by HP Lovecraft are now digitised and available for browsing at Brown University Library.

• William Hope Hodgson—The Essex-born Master of Horror: a biographical essay by Peter Berresford Ellis.

• The best ambient releases of 2018 according to FACT.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Donald Sutherland Day.

Sandspiel

Rocket USA (1977) by Suicide | Ticket To The Moon (1981) by Electric Light Orchestra | From Ape to Apollo (1994) Thomas Fehlmann