Weekend links 726

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Verticals on Wide Avenues from The Metropolis of Tomorrow (1929) by Hugh Ferriss.

Megalopolis, the futuristic epic written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, now has a trailer and a handful of mixed reviews. I recall Coppola saying years ago that he was the kind of director who would happily make films in any genre, science fiction included. I’ve wondered ever since what a full-on Coppola SF film might look like. (Captain EO and Peggy Sue Got Married don’t count). Now it seems we’re about to find out. Given his previous missteps I remain sceptical yet curious about this one. I’ve avoided his output since Bram Stoker’s Dracula but I’m still happy to see him being so ambitious while retaining his independence.

• And RIP Roger Corman who Coppola remembered as “my first boss, task-master, teacher, mentor, and role model. There is nothing about the practical matter of making movies I didn’t learn by being his assistant.” Related: It rained on the Sunday: a career interview with Roger Corman by Matthew Thrift.

• At Retro-Forteana: Fortean-themed music, from opera to metal. A difficult subject for a such short post, as the author admits. I’m amused to see one of my Hawkwind album covers in the list although the album itself doesn’t seem very Fortean to me.

• “Did you know that, if things had gone differently, the Pompidou Centre could have been an egg?” Oliver Wainwright on architecture that might have been.

• At Cartoon Brew: A closer look at great animated title sequences. I deplore the omission of Richard Williams’ titles for The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968).

• At Public Domain Review: Love Spells and Deadly Shrieks: Illustrations of Mandrakes (ca. 650–1927).

• At Wormwoodiana: “That Strange Little Book”: Ding Dong Bell by Walter de la Mare.

• At Unquiet Things: The latest collection of Intermittent Eyeball Fodder.

• Mix of the week: DreamScenes – May 2024 by Ambientblog.

Mandrake Root (1968) by Deep Purple | Mandrake (1975) by Gong | The Mandrake’s Hymn (2019) by Earth

The Atropine Tree

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My latest piece of cover art is for Doug Murano’s new imprint, Bad Hand Books. I designed the cover for the Behold! collection that Doug edited a few years ago, a book which included the author of the present tale of Gothic horror, Sarah Read:

Aldane Manor is an ancient home of low-beamed ceilings, crumbling walls, poison gardens, and deadly secrets. When Alrick Aldane returns to his family’s house, he expects to simply inherit his father’s land and title. Instead, he discovers that he is also heir to the property’s disturbing history—one full of witchcraft—and a ghostly mystery that could condemn him to a fate worse than death.

The cover for this one had a specific brief which required a family tree presented as two flowering stalks of Atropa belladonna or Deadly Nightshade, with both stalks growing out of a blue-glass poison bottle. Other details follow from the author’s mood board samples: hollow-eyed ghost children and loops of hair. The medical tone of these elements sent me looking at old pharmacy labels which is what I’ve used as a basis for the general design. Old pharmacy labels and medical documents were often just as fancy as any other 19th-century print designs so all the fine details around the title lettering are what printers referred to as “combination ornaments”, tiny typographic embellishments that form detailed patterns when pieced together. The ones seen here have been copied by hand from an old page design. You can scan these things from books, or try working up a vector shape from an Internet Archive scan, but the results are never as sharp or as clear as those you create yourself. For anyone who runs across this post hoping to find a good collection of combination ornaments, the MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan type catalogue of 1892 is a favourite of mine.

The Atropine Tree will be published in July 2024.

Previously on { feuilleton }
BEHOLD! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders

Weekend links 725

Springtime in Paris (1923) by Georg Kretzschmar.

• I’ve been asked to mention that the tribute book put together for Alan Moore’s 70th birthday, Alan Moore: Portraits of an Extraordinary Gentleman, is still available. As before, the book features contributions from many well-known comic artists, a foreword by Iain Sinclair, and this piece of my own.

• “I never posted any lecture of mine on Tumblr, even though Tumblr would seem to have plenty of elbow-room for hour-long, learned, European public lectures (with many lecture slides).” Utopian Realism, a speech by Bruce Sterling.

• Reading the Signs: John Kenny in conversation with Mark Valentine about Mark’s new collection Lost Estates.

There remains something suspect about blotter, a stain that is both a blessing and a curse. As the blotter producer Matthew Rick, who started selling sheets as non-dipped ‘art’ collectables at festivals in 1998, puts it: ‘[B]lotter is the last underground art form that’s going to stay underground, simply because you’re creating something that looks like and functions like a felony.’ In other words, blotter is ontologically illicit; it is, as Rick says, ‘drug paraphernalia by its very existence’.

Erik Davis (again) on LSD and the cultural history of the printed blotter

• At Colossal: Uncanny phenomena derail domestic bliss in Marisa Adesman’s luminous paintings.

• Standing stones, urban hellscapes and male nudes: Andrew Pulver on Derek Jarman’s Super-8 films.

• “ [breaking news] An anomaly on earth has brought the cats to over 150 meters. Please be patient.”

• At We Are The Mutants: Alien Renaissance: An interview with illustrator Bob Fowke.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…René Crevel My Body and I (1926).

• At Public Domain Review: The Little Journal of Rejects (1896).

• Steven Heller’s font of the month is Sandhouse.

• RIP Steve Albini.

Sandoz In The Rain (1970) by Amon Düül II | Bon Voyage Au LSD (2001) by Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. | Careful With That Sheet Of Acid, Eugene (2019) by Jenzeits

Weekend links 724

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Dr Faustus Conjuring Mephistopheles (1928) by Eric Ravilious.

• Materialising in July from a cloud of sulphurous smoke: The Devil Rides In – Spellbinding Satanic Magick & The Rockult 1967–1974. Cherry Red Records, home of the well-sourced, well-researched multi-disc compilation, might have been channelling my inner desires with this one, a Sabbath-esque soundtrack to the Occult Revival. I ordered it faster than you can say “Hail Satan!”

A Series of Headaches: Shakespeare’s First Folio meets the London Review of Books. “In this film, letterpress printer Nick Hand pulls apart the whole process, from making ink from crushed oak galls to heaving the levers of a replica Jacobean press, and shows how we produced our own (almost) authentic version of the LRB circa 1623.”

• Alan Moore will be subject to greater attention than usual in October. In addition to the forthcoming Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic, the month will also see the publication of The Great When, the first novel in his Long London series. Bloomsbury now has cover art to go with their description of the novel.

Mad Dogs & Englishmen: Faust On Virgin Records: An extract from Neu Klang: The Definitive Story of Krautrock by Cristoph Dallach, “the first comprehensive oral history of the diverse and radical movement in German music during the late 60s and 1970s.”

• Alien life is no joke: Adam Frank on combating “the giggle factor” in the search for extraterrestrial life.

• At Colossal: Lauren Fensterstock’s Cosmic Mosaics Map Out the Unknown in Crystal and Gems.

• New music: Ritual (evocation) by Jon Hopkins; Time Is Glass by Six Organs Of Admittance.

• At Unquiet Things: The Gentle, Jubilant Visual Poetry of Tino Rodriguez.

• At Retro-Forteana: Colin Wilson, Philosopher of the Paranormal.

• DJ Food on Jeff Keen’s Amazing Rayday Comic collages.

At Dennis Cooper’s: Alan Clarke Day.

Krautrock (1973) by Faust | Krautrock (1973) by Conrad Schnitzler | The Kraut (2007) by Stars Of The Lid

Max Ernst, estampes et livres illustrés

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And speaking of Max Ernst… These are pages from a catalogue for a exhibition of Ernst’s prints and book illustrations held at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris in 1975. Ernst was such a versatile and prolific artist that any collection can only show a small sample of the available work which here ranges from Dadaist collages and Surrealist frottages, to pages from his three collage novels plus later works like Wunderhorn which featured illustrations based on the writings of Lewis Carroll. Some of the captions erroneously assign collages from Une semaine de bonté to La femme 100 têtes, not the kind of thing you expect from a national library. Several of the images towards the end are from Maximiliana or the Illegal Practice of Astronomy, an art-book that Ernst created in 1964 which features the curious hieroglyphic figures that proliferate in his drawings and paintings from this period. Peter Schamoni made a short film about the project which may be viewed here.

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