The Ravening Deep


Presenting my latest cover in the Arkham Horror spin-off series for Aconyte. The Lovecraftian menace this time is oceanic:

When dissolute fisherman Abel Davenport discovers an ancient temple in the deep ocean, he falls under the influence of a long dead god. In his attempts to restore the god’s cult, Abel unleashes a plague of twisted doppelgangers on Arkham. Horrified by the consequences, Davenport realizes that he alone cannot stop the monsters from resurrecting the Ancient One.

Sometimes the only way to end one cult is to start another… Teaming up with redeemed cultist Diana Stanley and notorious thief Ruby Standish is the first step. The second is convincing Carl Sanford, the powerful leader of Arkham’s Silver Twilight Lodge, to join their cause. Together they might be the only hope of averting a cataclysmic eldritch invasion.

This was more of a challenge than some of my earlier covers for the series since there was a lot to fit in. That star shape in the background is an interlaced pattern like the sigil underneath the author’s name but it ended up being covered over, something I wasn’t intending but I always let these things grow organically rather than try and force everything into a preconceived design. As before, everything has been put together in Illustrator which presents its own challenges when you’re trying to achieve Photoshop-style airbrush effects. I like the way Illustrator restricts the graphical treatment to shapes, colours and hard edges, something which is perfect for these Deco-style covers. With Photoshop there’s always the temptation to start making everything more like a painting. A few of the aquatic details are adapted from Maurice Verneuil’s L’Animal dans la Decoration (1897), a book for artists showing stylised treatments of various animals and plants. I’ve had Verneuil’s book for a while as a Dover reprint but never found much use for it before.

This isn’t the last cover I’ve done this year, there’s another one still to be made public but it won’t be ready now until early in the new year. The Ravening Deep will be published in August 2023.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The Lovecraft archive

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

Das Thier in der Decorativen Kunst


The development of the Arts and Crafts movement in the late 19th century led to the publication of many books and periodicals offering design suggestions to artists, craftspeople and decorators. The more popular examples, like the long-running Dekorative Vorbilder, comprised collections of plates by different artists, in styles that ran from imitations of rococo decoration to the latest Art Nouveau (or Jugendstil) graphics. Other books presented designs by single artists. Alphonse Mucha created two of these, Documents Decoratifs (1902) and Figures Décoratives (1905), while also collaborating with Maurice Verneuil and George Auriol on Combinaisons Ornementals (1901). Verneuil produced a book of his own designs, L’Animal dans la Decoration (1897), in which animals of all kinds were depicted in Verneuil’s precise and versatile Art Nouveau manner.


Das Thier in der Decorativen Kunst (The Animal in Decorative Art) is an Austrian equivalent of L’Animal dans la Decoration, and one in which artist Anton Seder didn’t feel as constrained as Verneuil by biological accuracy. Three of the plates in Seder’s book are devoted to a variety of snarling dragons that were probably more useful for illustrators than interior designers. The rest of the book is a combination of reality and fantasy, with fish in various states of pop-eyed alarm, a collection of piscine grotesques that I’ll be looking at if I ever have to draw the inhabitants of Innsmouth again, and many beautiful renderings of birds, reptiles, crustaceans, feathers and shells. Seder’s book was reprinted by Dover Publications as Fantastic Beasts of the Nineteenth Century but you can browse or download the original for free here. (The date given at the Internet Archive is 1896 but several of the plates show dates later than this.)




Continue reading “Das Thier in der Decorativen Kunst”

Combinaisons Ornementales


After writing about Charles J Strong’s Book of Designs a couple of days ago, it seems pertinent to point the way to a far more essential Art Nouveau design book which can also be found at the Internet Archive. Combinaisons Ornementales was a collaboration between Maurice Verneuil, George Auriol and Alphonse Mucha published in 1901, and comprises 60 plates of beautifully elegant designs (“multipliable to infinity with the aid of a mirror”) which range from Mucha’s abstractions to Verneuil’s flower motifs. The examples shown here are all by Mucha; I borrowed one of the flourishes and the peacock feather for the Dodgem Logic cover design earlier this year.


For a quick look at all the plates, the NYPL Digital Gallery has scans. Mucha produced another design book the following year, Documents Decoratifs, although I’ve yet to see an edition of that online.


Previously on { feuilleton }
Charles J Strong’s Book of Designs
Mucha’s Zodiac
Dodgem Logic #4



The Modern Poster by Will Bradley (1895).

A selection from the NYPL Digital Gallery. There’s more by the great Will Bradley (1868–1962) here.


Abstract design based on peacock feathers by Maurice Verneuil (1900?).


Pavo; Lophophorus (1834–1837).

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Rene Beauclair
Elizabetes Iela 10b, Riga
The Maison Lavirotte
Whistler’s Peacock Room
Beardsley’s Salomé