Herald of Ruin

herald1.jpg

New year, new book cover. Herald of Ruin is my latest for Aconyte, a sequel to Tim Pratt’s The Ravening Deep, which featured my last cover in this series of novels spun from the Arkham Horror games:

Chaos is coming to Arkham, and its herald is Randall Tillinghast. The dapper older gentleman has recently arrived in the city and his establishment of a new occult bookshop draws the ire of Carl Sanford, the head of Arkham’s secret, esoteric order, the Silver Twilight Lodge.

Sanford expects to crush the newcomer like an ant and take what he wants from the wreckage… but Randall Tillinghast isn’t quite as humble and harmless as he seems. In possession of an array of magical artifacts, Tillinghast begins to consolidate his dreams of power before turning his sights on the Lodge.

All six covers to date have followed a similar style, combining Art Deco graphics with various kinds of Lovecraftian weirdness, views of significant architecture and pictures of the main characters. With the new book being a sequel the cover was designed as an inverse companion to The Ravening Deep. The general structure is the same but with earth tones replacing the aquarian colours, and with the character shots and interlaced septagram flipped around.

herald2.jpg

That towering edifice in the background is supposed to be the city of Sarnath which I spent some time drawing even though I knew most of it was going to be covered over. The way I work I often have to do this since I like to create all the different elements with only a vague composition in mind, after which I can shuffle things around until they assume a satisfying appearance. I also like to keep my options open in the early stages. This is something you can do more easily in Illustrator than in Photoshop, the Illustrator interface being an artboard upon which you assemble the various components of your design. Vector graphics aren’t always ideal when you’re trying to create something this complex, but the hard edges suit the Deco style and the general appearance which is more of a poster design than a picture window.

herald3.jpg

Among the other details, the eye-in-a-triangle, a device I’ve used a lot in the past, was prompted by the source material for a change. And the woman’s face is based on a photo of Musidora, one of the stars of early silent cinema in her role as Irma Vep from Feuillade’s Les Vampires (1915–16). The visual source for this character wasn’t very informative but she’s a cat burglar, and Feulliade’s serial happens to concern a group of Parisian cat burglars. I think Irma Vep may have been the first cat-burgling woman in cinema history so Musidora was a good choice with the right look for the cover.

Herald of Ruin will be published in July.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The Lovecraft archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Ravening Deep
Diamonds
The Devourer Below
Litany of Dreams
The Last Ritual

Forbidden reproductions

magritte2.jpg

La Reproduction Interdite (1937) by René Magritte.

English translations of the title of Magritte’s painting vary, with Not to be Reproduced and Reproduction Prohibited being two of the most popular. I prefer Reproduction Forbidden, a title that sounds more serious, and with a use reinforced by Forbidden Games, the English title of a René Clement feature film, Jeux Interdits. Whatever the translation, this is one of Magritte’s most popular inventions, one that people like recreating.


The Flat (1968).

flat.jpg

Jan Svankmajer’s short has more justification for copying the painting than some of the examples which follow. Svankmajer and Eva Svankmajerová were members of the long-running Prague Surrealist group, and The Flat is very much a Surrealist piece, with a man trapped inside a room where none of the mundane objects behave as he expects. In addition to the overt Magritte quote there’s an appearance by Svankmajer’s film-directing friend, Juraj Herz, as a bowler-hatted man carrying a chicken.


Sabotage (1975) by Black Sabbath.

sabotage.jpg

The front cover is the Magritte idea but with them all facing away from the mirror.


One Of The Boys (1977) by Roger Daltrey.

daltrey.jpg

One of the things that makes Magritte’s original work so well is the blank space in the mirror which directs attention to the impossible reflection. I suspect that if design group Hipgnosis had been asked to imitate the painting they would have done something similar, avoiding the lacklustre effect achieved here by photographer Graham Hughes. Hipgnosis acknowledged their own debt to Magritte in the title of their first book, Walk Away René in 1978, and often constructed whole sets for photo shoots. Hughes tried another Magritte-like effect for the back cover of the Daltrey album but with diminished success.


Dolores Claiborne (1995).

dolores.jpg

The following images are from films (and a TV series), two of which are coincidentally based on Stephen King stories. To date I’ve only seen Secret Window which isn’t one I’d recommend. Are there any more forbidden reproductions out there?


Secret Window (2004).

secret.jpg


The Double (2013).

double.jpg


Us (2019).

us.jpg


Euphoria (2019).

euphoria.jpg


Update: Added Sabotage and Euphoria.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The Surrealism archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
René Magritte, Cinéaste
Magritte: The False Mirror
Magritte, ou la lecon de chose
René Magritte album covers
Monsieur René Magritte, a film by Adrian Maben
George Melly’s Memoirs of a Self-Confessed Surrealist
The Secret Life of Edward James
René Magritte by David Wheatley

Weekend links 708

nash.jpg

Landscape from a Dream (1936–38) by Paul Nash.

• “I was telling a close friend recently, ‘at my funeral, please play this record…’” Yu Su on her love of Laurie Anderson’s second album, Mister Heartbreak.

• “Surrealism is more of an attitude than an art movement,” says Mark Polizzotti, talking about his new book, Why Surrealism Matters.

• New music: Spinning by Julia Holter; The Night Dwells In The Day by Jozef Van Wissem; and The River Of Light And Radiation by Ben Frost.

• The late David J. Skal, author of Hollywood Gothic and others, is remembered at Swan River Press.

• At Colossal: Dizzying gifs by Etienne Jacob infuse mathematical equations into endless loops.

• At Public Domain Review: Charles Rabot’s Arctic photographs (ca. 1881).

• At Unquiet Things, S. Elizabeth says “Help me downsize my library!

Drone footage of the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland.

• Mix of the week is a mix for The Wire by Kavari.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Robert Bresson Day.

Dance On A Volcano (1975) by Genesis | Volcano Diving (1989) by David Van Tieghem | Eye Of The Volcano (2006) by Stereolab

Weekend links 707

genkosai.jpg

Dragon and Tiger—Designs for Lacquer Inro (no date) by Mori Genkosai.

• “But where have all those copies of Corridor of Mirrors gone? Sometimes I entertain the thought that an obsessive collector has amassed them in his library lined with looking-glasses, so that nobody else can possess the book but he, and he can see them all, multiplied to infinity, as he stalks up and down in his scarlet smoking hat and velvet coat, and gloats.” Mark Valentine on the mysterious unavailability of Corridor of Mirrors (1941), a novel by Chris Massie. The film adaptation made a few years later is one I’ve managed to miss, despite its starring Eric Portman and featuring the first screen appearance of Christopher Lee. Future viewing, I think.

• “The intrepid logician Kurt Gödel believed in the afterlife. In four heartfelt letters to his mother he explained why.” Alexander T Englert explains Gödel’s explanations.

• At Open Culture: Hortus Eystettensis (1613), “the beautifully illustrated book of plants that changed botanical art overnight”.

• Mix of the week: Aquarium Drunkard presents The Secret Hemisphere: New Age, Fusion and Fourth World, 1970–2002.

• New music: Phases Of This And Other Moons by Field Lines Cartographer.

• Why Graphic Culture Matters is a new book of essays by Rick Poynor.

• At Spoon & Tamago: Japanese Designer New Year’s Cards of 2024.

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

• At Dennis Cooper’s it’s Barbara Steele Day.

The Hall Of Mirrors In The Palace At Versailles (1970) by John Cale & Terry Riley | The Hall Of Mirrors (1977) by Kraftwerk | The Room Of Mirrors (2000) by Harold Budd

Weekend links 699

gartside.jpg

November Evening (1955) by Brian Gartside.

• The next Jon Savage compilation for Caroline True Records will be Jon Savage’s Ambient 90s, a dive into the side of rave culture that I always preferred, even while disputing the use of the “A” word. Anything with beats isn’t ambient by my definition, but I’ve been complaining about the nomenclature since 1991 to no avail. It’s on pre-order anyway.

• “They produced in me an infinity of new images and feelings, that sometimes raised me to ecstasy, but more frequently sunk me into the lowest dejection.” Thus Frankenstein’s monster during his reading of three books that happen to be important texts for the Romantic imagination. Hunter Dukes looks at the syllabus of Frankenstein’s monster.

• “Figure on Led Zeppelin IV cover identified as Victorian Wiltshire thatcher”. Last year I discovered the source for the lyrics and credits lettering designs used on the same album’s inner sleeve. Not as newsworthy, obviously, but I thought it was a good piece of cultural detective work.

• At Aquarium Drunkard: An interview with Morton Subotnick, now 90 years old. “Pioneer” is an over-used label, especially in electronic music, but Subotnick really does warrant the description.

• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine on Unburied Bane, an EP by The Heartwood Institute based on a story by “the enigmatic N. Dennett”.

• At Unquiet Things: Art and captions that didn’t make the print version of The Art of Fantasy by S. Elizabeth.

• “Hidden demon revealed in the shadows of a Joshua Reynolds painting.”

• New music: Polygon by Galya Bisengalieva, and Saor by Claire M. Singer.

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

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Arthur Lipsett’s Day.

Martin Carthy’s favourite music.

Little Demon (1956) by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins | Ballad Of Maxwell Demon (1998) by Shudder To Think | On Demon Wings (2000) by Bohren And Der Club Of Gore