Marabout Fantastique book covers


A post for Halloween featuring a selection of covers from the “Fantastique” imprint of Belgian publisher Bibliothèque Marabout. The imprint, which was only labelled “Fantastique” on later editions, was launched around 1969 and ran through the 1970s before petering out in the early 1980s. The uniform cover design—almost always black with titles set in Roberta—is an attraction for paperback collectors even when the titles are very familiar ones, and when the cover art, most of which was the work of Henri Lievens (1920–2000), is sketchy and vague.


Among the Belgian writers rubbing shoulders with their more famous foreign counterparts are Jean Ray, author of the cult novel Malpertuis, playwright Michel de Ghelderode, and Thomas Owen (the pen-name of Gérald Bertot). Not all of the artwork is credited but most of the examples here are the work of the prolific Lievens, an artist whose cobwebbed eccentricities sometimes exceed the bounds of their brief; that flapping creature on the cover of The White People by Arthur Machen has no analogue in any of Machen’s stories. Later covers in the series saw contributions from Jean Alessandrini, with collages that were the subject of an earlier post. Marabout is still publishing today, albeit in a reduced fashion, having relocated to France where the company is now a tiny part of the Hachette empire.















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Bibliothek des Hauses Usher
La Bibliothèque de Babel

6 thoughts on “Marabout Fantastique book covers”

  1. The person I consider THE Arthur Machen cover artist, Matthew Jaffe, did this recent cover for the M. R. James spoken word LP capturing that Marabout ‘feel’
    Matt gave Credit Where Due (in some post I’m having trouble finding) to the inspiration by Jean-Jacques Feuchère’s sculpture

    May we all bring something back with us from The Black Pilgrimage tonight…

  2. Wakefield Press is doing a fine job of providing translations of the work of Jean Ray and Michel de Ghelderode, but the work of Thomas Owen is very hard to find. A new edition of MALPERTUIS was published late last year.

    ps: Thanks John!

  3. My late mother was a fan of the imprint and bought many of these during the 70s, when she was a student (I still own them). They were my very first brush with horror. I was pretty young, and this Roberta font is forever linked with fear in my mind…

    They also published many of Seignolle’s short story collections. Many Seignolle’s stories take place in the countryside and are based on folk beliefs (which he knew quite well, as he had been a kind of folklorist himself, working with Van Gennep), so I guess that makes them a rather rare instance of French folk horror. I don’t know if his work has been translated in English (though I seem to remember one of his stories is included in the VanderMeers’ The Weird behemoth anthology).

    A couple of rather obscure Belgian writers were also interesting. Daniel Mallinus’ Myrtis, for example, was a fine collection, with a morbid tone probably inherited from Poe. Stories tend to lean rather heavily to the lyrical, so there’s not much in terms of plot (a perennial French and Belgian tendency), but I think fans of Ligotti would find something to enjoy here.

  4. Hi Guillaume. Yes, there is a Seignolle story, The Ghoulbird, in The Weird. That collection is a good one for looking further afield than most; they also included one of Grabinski’s best stories, The White Wyrak.

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