WEDNESDAYS WORDS is a new weekly installment that ranks the most interesting, intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.
I’m doing something a bit different for this WEDNESDAYS WORDS, selecting an image or a text that moves me, and then pointing you to where you can get the book for your own enjoyment.
We begin with an image.
Painted in 1907 by Carlos Schwabe, one of the pioneers of what today we describe as fantastic fiction, this image is entitled SPLEEN AND IDEAL. He actually painted/etched this image twice, the one you see here, and one that is subtly different, with the nudity obscured a bit, the angel’s loins, are covered, and the siren/succubus’ face is hidden, but oddly still very disturbing.
But the one shown here is the more disturbing of the two. The look in the siren’s eyes, the look of the angels face, caught trying to break away; caught quite literally, between the devil and the deep blue sea.
There is a story frozen here, questions and answers frozen, somewhere between the thrashing of wings, and the beating of tail. A she-god of the sea, and a she-god of the air. An attack? A ravishing? Something between the two?
It is a provocative and sensual pic for 2012, I can only imagine how much more disturbing and shocking it must have seemed in 1907.
There is no English language book on this inexplicably overlooked pioneer of the weird and the wondrous, but there is a large, and lushly illustrated French art-book called CARLOS SCHWABE: SYMBOLISTE ET VISIONNAIRE. While the text is in French, the numerous lushly reproduced drawings and paintings… require no translation. The book is quite large, at 12.2″ by 10.3″, and surprisingly heavy, 260 pages on an extremely thick paper stock. and printed in Paris in 1994.
And lest you think Carlos Schwabe could only illustrate the macabre, some of his most striking images in the book are subtle, nuanced, even lovely and loving portraits. Such as this beautiful portrait he did in 1908 (with crayons if my French is any good. Wow! That is amazing! Look at the level of gradations and detail!) of his daughter, and named after her… it is titled, LOTTE:
So for a chance to see this image and many more reproduced in detail in a huge, lavish tome… get your copy here:
Another image. This one does not do justice to the actual printed image, but it’s the best picture of it I could find. It’s wonderfully Gothic, and sensual, and horrific all at the same time. In other words… vintage Wrightson.
Bernie Wrightson is one of the true artistic greats of the modern era. The meticulous detail and line work of his output, specifically of the 70s and 80s, is just awe-inspiring. One of the best showcases of his work is his illustrated FRANKENSTEIN published through Dark Horse.
I’ve praised that book repeatedly, if you don’t own a copy by now there is just no hope for you. But for those of you who there is hope for, in addition to FRANKENSTEIN you can see some additional stellar work by Wrighton in KNOWING DARKNESS. A retrospective of all the work done for Stephen King’s Books and Portfolios.
In addition to work by Wrightson it includes work by over two dozen other artists. Much of it rare and unavailable, and commanding high prices on the secondary market. This book allows you to have ALL of the sought after artwork created for Stephen King’s lauded body of work, in one huge, heavy, takes two people to lift it book! Okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. At 15.6 x 11.6 x 2.4 inches and weighing 13 pounds, it’s one of the biggest and heaviest books I own.
“we are treated to some sumptuous art. Knowing Darkness is worth its price and weight alone for the illustrations which originally accompanied the limited edition of Christine (breathtaking work by Stephen Gervais). The oversized reproductions of Bob Giusti’s It and Misery covers and Rob Wood’s Dolores Claiborne and Four Past Midnight covers get a whole new life when viewed out of the context of book covers. And that is to say nothing of the art original to this volume, the best of which is a brand-new Don Maitz interpretation of Duma Key, which features a ghost ship on an easel overlooking an Atlantic sunset. You don’t notice at first – your eye is so drawn to the ship in the foreground – that the gulls in the distance are flying upside-down.
Of course, this would all amount to little more than a collection of pretty pictures without the binding strength of George Beahm’s essays. Beahm, a Stephen King expert who perfected the companion-book genre with The Stephen King companion before going on to write The Stephen King Story and many other must-haves – is at his most compelling here. He manages to convey his fascination and excitement for the subject in every essay, and pass that onto the reader. The exclusive interviews, especially the one with Bernie Wrightson, are illuminating.
Books about King are legion, and there are many terrific volumes out there which rise above the chaff. There are only a handful, though, that are absolute musts for King fans. Knowing Darkness is beyond a doubt one of the absolute musts, not just for King fans, but for anyone interested in art and illustration. With such a wealth of material to cover – from mass-produced cover art, to limited-edition illustration, to interpretive pieces – it’s an achievement that a project like Knowing Darkness was even attempted. That it is executed so beautifully, then, is phenomenal.”– Charnel House
Get your copy while you can still pick it up for under retail (these were going for $300).
Knowing Darkness: Artists Inspired by Stephen King
And one last image closes out a nice compact, 3 book WEDNESDAY WORDS.
Now a word to the wise… the following image has nipples. Shock! Aghast!! Horror!!
If nipples offend you… then go away.
But the thought of crossing out the nipples just seemed completely idiotic, and like defacing art. Every baby knows what a nipple is. Everybody has nipples, even I have nipples. (And they’re real and they’re fabulous. Sorry have to sneak that Seinfeld quote in, every once in a while).
So yeah, I’m showing the cover sans any moronic editing. I don’t think the world will end.
This is a slight soft-cover art-book. In no way is it the hernia inducing behemoth of my other two recommended books.
But it doesn’t have to be, all it has to be is… great art. And it is that. Pencils and some inks, it’s incredibly impressive work by artist Erik Drudwyn.
Get your copy here:
The WEDNESDAYS WORDS column is a new blog feature, appearing (you guessed it!) every Wednesday. Come back next week to see which books make the list!
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