2016 and 2017 : Remembering Writers and Artist – Wrightson & Wollstonecraft and The Best Pen & Ink Artists!

Things lost in the Fire, may yet be  found in the Ashes

“There was a silly damn bird called a phoenix back before Christ, every few hundred years he built a pyre and burnt himself up. He must have been the first cousin to Man. But every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And it looks like we’re doing the same thing, over and over, but we’re got on damn thing the phoenix never had. We know the damn silly thing we just did. We know all the damn silly things we’ve done for a thousand years and as long as we know that and always have it around where we can see it, someday we’ll stop making the goddamn funeral pyres and jumping in the middle of them. We pick up a few more people that remember every generation.”
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

“Whence arose all the horrid assassinations of whole nations of men, women, and infants, with which the Bible is filled; and the bloody persecutions, and tortures unto death and religious wars, that since that time have laid Europe in blood and ashes; whence arose they, but from this impious thing called revealed religion, and this monstrous belief that God has spoken to man? The lies of the Bible have been the cause of the one, and the lies of the Testament of the other.”
Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

“Father… you speak with absolute assurance, completely convinced that your vision is the only proper way, and like all men who speak thus … you are mad.”
— Steve Englehart, MASTER OF KUNG OMNIBUS VOL 1

 

RIP to:

Bernie Wrightson, Len Wein, Rich Buckler, Darwyn Cooke, Steve Dillon – great creators lost in 2016/2017

They were not actors, and they were not sports figures, they were creators and myth makers working in an oft castigated medium, but delivering words and images and concepts, that would transcend their newsprint origins and outlive naysayers.

This installment is dedicated to Bernie Wrightson. Over a year into his passing and I wanted to reflect on Wrightson, the artist, again:

Bernie Wrightson had a suitably Baroque name for someone whose beautiful, exquisitely detailed and ornate artwork and sensabilities was the best of the Baroque meets the gothic. I’m an art lover, I own a large selection of art books from Dali to Duncanson, and Wrightson”s mesmerizing FRANKENSTEIN where he created full page plates to accompany Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s celebrated and cautionary tale, remains not just the only version of FRANKENSTEIN one needs own, but one of the most significant art books made in the latter half of the 20th century.

Wrightson quickly proving himself one of the preeminent Pen and Ink artists of all time, up there with the 19th century’s celebrated Louis-Auguste Gustave Dore and the criminally under-heralded mid-20th century Virgil Finlay.

Thankfully, Wrightson’s most lauded work, FRANKENSTEIN, often rumored of rather than seen, was republished by DARK HORSE BOOKS in the 21st century, in an even better quality version.

In this writer’s opinion it is a book, not just any American household should have, but all households should have. The myth of Frankenstein is old and oft told, but you will not find it better told in print anywhere, than in this pairing of Wollstonecraft and Wrightson.

 

Bernie Wrightsons Frankenstein

It is currently out of print, but I see this book as one that Dark Horse will bring back in print. Especially considering next year, 2018, marks the 35 year anniversay of the book’s initial release.

As far as Gustave Dore, here’s a nice affordable coffee table overview of his work:

The Drawings of Gustave Dore:Illustrations to the Great Classics

And Virgil Finlay,

Book of Virgil Finlay

This remains the best introduction and overview of his work, including many of his quality works that fail to show up in later versions. Unfortunately a softcover, however do what I do, pay a book binder to make a hardcover out of it.

And a few other departed genius that deserve mention in the above company… Segio Toppi, Franklin Booth and Basil Wolverton:

Sharaz-de: Tales from the Arabian Nights

The Collector

FRANKLIN BOOTH

Franklin Booth: American Illustrator

 

Creeping Death from Neptune: The Life And Comics Of Basil Wolverton Vol. 1

BASIL WOLVERTON WEIRD WORLDS ARTIST ED HC

And some living, breathing pen and ink geniuses that you should be seeking out, buying their books, hiring for projects? Glad you asked, they are:

Tim Bradstreet

Maximum Black
A very prolific and in-demand artist, Bradstreet’s MAXIMUM BLACK art book dates from the turn of the century. A new collection of his art, covering the work he has done in the two decades since, would make a welcome addition to this first book.

Oscar Chichoni

Chichoni: Mekanika – A game, film, and dimensional artist, Chichoni does very little printed work. This is his only art book to-date. That it is also one of the best artbooks, only makes it more pressing that he does another one. His art is that good.

Andy Brase – This guy is going to be huge. Looking forward to his first artbook.

Stephen Bissette  & John Totleben ( yes I’m cheating here)- Bissette’s pencils married to Totleben’s inking, on DC’s revamping of floundering title SWAMP THING, with evolutionary writing by relative newcomer Alan Moore, and all of it mid-wifed into being by the late great Len Wen, remains, 30+ years later, seminal, ground breaking and unsurpassed work. And Bissette not only as instructor for new generations of creators, but as scholor and historian and reviewer and Indie Comic supporter remains an essential and insightful voice for the medium of words and pictures. His podcast interviews on a variety of shows, starting with the late Indie Spinner Rack, remains, like his artwork, top notch. I’ve sought out podcasts he has done, and each one reveals more about comics as hobby, as job, as calling, as artform, and as cultural touchstone.

Look for his podcast interviews on MAKING COMICS, INDIE SPINNER RACK, and DECONSTRUCTING COMICS to name some. And in addition he is a prolific reviewer and writer.

Teen Angels & New Mutants

Geof Darrow – When you think of detailed, intricate artists, Geof Darrow’s name comes up near the top of the list. Long before there was an IDW publishing doing tabloid sized treatments of famous artists, there was Frank Miller and Geof Darrow ‘s ground breaking tabloid work for Dark Horse Books. A superlative addition to any library.

Big Damn Hard Boiled

Big Guy & Rusty the Boy Robot (King Size B&W) (Big Guy & Rusty the Boy Robot)

 

Mark Schultz

Mike Hoffman

The Mike Hoffman Comics Reader: 300 Pages Volume One

Tim Vigil

 

Lucas Ruggieri

Predrag Djukic – I will be at the front of the line to get this gentleman’s first artbook

Art Adams

Like any list, this one is also a distillation of the writer’s biases, his experiences, his major passions, and his minor blindspots, as such it can by definition not be comprehensive, only revealing. Chalk up any omissions of your favorite pen&ink artist to my head and not my heart. Brevity demands limiting the list, but shine light on those I have missed, by leaving your comment of those past and those present… deserving of attention!

Thanks for looking!!

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Bernie Wrightson – The Legend

It was only in doing the link for my last post on Frankestein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, that I stumbled across the news that Bernie Wrightson had died.

“You writers live too much out of the world.”

—James Mason reading THE THIRD MAN

I grew up with the work of Bernie Wrightson, and no one seeing his art, particularly his stunning linework for Frankenstein could deny that he was one of the world’s greatest living artists. The fact that that moniker must now be changed to ‘greatest artist’ is apt but painful.

To his family and friends, and to his admirer’s and fans like myself, my heartfelt sympathies goes out.

We mourn the dead not for themselves, selfish humans that we are, but for us. We are suddenly made more alone by their absence, even strangers who we only new by marks on a page, can leave a whole in us, equal to the joy those images gave us.

In terms of Bernie Wrightson it is sizeable.

But we have the images.

Like unreal master draftsman before him, such as Gustave Dore and Virgil Finlay who have passed into the long night, the mystery that waits for us all, he joins the pantheon of Legends. Those three for me are the trinity of Linework/iIlustrative gods.

There is unfortunately an absence of new artists coming up with the mind blowing pen and ink skills of Wrightson, and more than that… his work ethic, and patience, and attention to detail, which is a shame. I wonder when we’ll see another artist of his skillset and mindset, who will produce work of the scope of Wrightson’s FRANKENSTEIN.

Wrightson is of that earlier age that produced contemporaries and proteges such as Kaluta and Sienkiewicz and Bissette and Totleben,  And his inspiration lives on in them and in us.

 

Rest in Peace

Bernie Wrightson 1948 -2017

 

 

OF FRANKENSTEINS and HYDES : The cautionary fiction of Mary Shelley and Robert Louis Stevens!

 

DR.JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE

Chapter 1

Story of the Door

Mr. Utterson the lawyer was a man of a rugged countenance that was
never lighted by a smile; cold, scanty and embarrassed in
discourse; backward in sentiment; lean, long, dusty, dreary and
yet somehow lovable.  At friendly meetings, and when the wine was
to his taste, something eminently human beaconed from his eye;
something indeed which never found its way into his talk, but
which spoke not only in these silent symbols of the after-dinner
face, but more often and loudly in the acts of his life.

The Robert Louis Stevenson Novel/Novellette from 1886 DR. JEKYLL AND MR.HYDE along with Mary Shelley’S FRANKENSTEIN: THE MODERN PROMETHEUS (almost 70 years earlier in 1818) were both pivotal cautionary tales  that foresaw in the new Marvels of Science, the new quickly expanding horizons of Electricity and Chemistry, changes of a a seismic and (if not morally guided) dangerous potential.

Dangerous not just in bodily harm, or even death, but dangerous to the very quality of what it means to be human, to the very nature of humanity.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley tantalized with this fantastic concept of man playing at God and creating life, but that life created by a flawed and fickle and neglectful and abusive God becomes a rebuke onto its creator, and possibly a supplanter of all mankind.

Stevenson tantalized with this fantastic concept, that behind our masks of civility, and mores and morality, there is even in the best of us, some darker divide, and he posited the ability of science freeing the one from the other. And long before that idea would become common place, StevenSON was one of the first, to speak of the possible calamity, of cures to our perceived ills, that give birth to much greater ills.

He foresaw in Hyde the rise of the Sociopath society. Of a whole nation of Hydes, glutted on self interest, trampling children in their wake.

and shelley foresaw even more.

Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN turns 200 next year, and I always find her story, the story of frankenstein’s genesis amazing.

MARY WAS on a getaway with her soon to be husband, their child, and their friends, AND conceived what would become frankenstein pretty much on a whim, when they were all prompted by lord byron on a stormy, spooky night to see which of them could write the best ghost story. MARY SHELLEY’S STORY , even amongst that august assembly of creators, was considered the most brilliant.

she was only 18 years old. A PROTO FEMINIST and intellectual and renaissance woman.

and had lived in those 18 years more than most live today in an entire life time. in a world devoid of tv or facebook, people themselves, their ability to create, to learn, to excel… people had to be the marvels in their own lives.

These century old novels have stood the test of time because.. beyond being well written, by extraordinary people, they are prophetic and cautionary screeds against the overreaching hubris of man, specifically scientists. cautionary tales, the lesson of which can be summed up thus… because we can do a thing, does not mean we should do that thing.

A great lesson, that Scientists in an age of cloning and gene tampering and manufactured diseases and machines killing men… seem woefully slow at learning. And this abject inability of those makers of fact to learn the lessons of fiction,will keep Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN and Stevens’ DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE always horribly relevant, and scarily prescient… as new scientific threats to life and limb arise.

 

So with that said, these too works are two of the most adapted in the English language. And I have seen just about all the English language adaptations of note.

In part 2 of this post I will bring you the most recommended adaptations in various formats. From Audio to video to Books!

That should be up Friday Night. Come back for that!

And for right now support this blog and support yourself by buying one of the best book Adaptations of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN ever put to print…the Dark Horse Bernie Wrightson Illustrated, impeccably designed hardcover version.

Get your copy here:

.

Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein

WEDNESDAYS WORDS

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.

Star Trek USS Enterprise Original Series Crew James T Kirk, Spock, Bones, Uhura & Chekov T-Shirt

Yes, I’m kicking this off with one non-book item just cause I thought it was pretty awesome looking. :). Okay, now onto the books!


Night Watch
Publication Date: July 26, 2006
The Night Watch series has caused a sensation never before seen in Russia — its popularity is frenzied and unprecedented, and driven by a truly great, epic story. In 2005 Fox Searchlight announced it had acquired the Russian film adaptation for an American release. Interest in the books here is now set to reach a fever pitch.

Set in modern day Moscow, Night Watch is a world as elaborate and imaginative as Tolkien or the best Asimov. Living among us are the “Others,” an ancient race of humans with supernatural powers who swear allegiance to either the Dark or the Light. A thousand-year treaty has maintained the balance of power, and the two sides coexist in an uneasy truce. But an ancient prophecy decrees that one supreme “Other” will rise up and tip the balance, plunging the world into a catastrophic war between the Dark and the Light. When a young boy with extraordinary powers emerges, fulfilling the first half of the prophecy, will the forces of the Light be able to keep the Dark from corrupting the boy and destroying the world?

An extraordinary translation from the Russian by noted translator Andrew Bromfield, this first English language edition of Night Watch is a chilling, engrossing read certain to reward those waiting in anticipation of its arrival.

I caught a bit of the DVD, but not enough to really get a grasp of this 4 book Russian series. So interested enough to pick up the first book and give it a read.


Voyage: A Novel of 1896

Editorial Reviews
From Library Journal
Hayden’s wonderful 1976 novel is a historical page-turner with a social conscience. The book compares the treatment of the rich and poor as it juxtaposes the journeys of the pampered daughter of a shipping titan and the crew aboard one of her father’s hellish barks. (Classic Returns, LJ 11/15/99)
Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Back Cover
“Violent, colorful… you keep turning the pages to find out just what in the name of God is going to happen next.” –Boston Globe

“A book of savage beauty.” –Boston Herald American

“A rousing epic… Big, muscular, profane, cynical, romantic.” –Chicago Daily News

“A rare sort of sheer drive and vitality carries this novel… a raw fury about class distinctions and privileges… strangely refreshing in our blase age.” –New York Times Book Review

“A story of extraordinary richness and power… Sterling Hayden here proves himself a master novelist. His prose is vivid and brawny, his characters come to individual life… At once a magnificent epic of the sea and a dynamic portrait of turn-of-the-century America.” –Publishers Weekly

Painting With Light
Book Description
Publication Date: May 18, 1995
Few cinematographers have had as decisive an impact on the cinematic medium as John Alton. Best known for his highly stylized film noir classics T-Men, He Walked by Night, and The Big Combo, Alton earned a reputation during the 1940s and 1950s as one of Hollywood’s consummate craftsmen through his visual signature of crisp shadows and sculpted beams of light. No less renowned for his virtuoso color cinematography and deft appropriation of widescreen and Technicolor, he earned an Academy Award in 1951 for his work on the musical An American in Paris. First published in 1949, and long out of print since then, Painting With Light remains one of the few truly canonical statements on the art of motion picture photography, an unrivaled historical document on the workings of the postwar, American cinema. In simple, non-technical language, Alton explains the job of the cinematographer and explores how lighting, camera techniques, and choice of locations determine the visual mood of film. Todd McCarthy’s introduction, written especially for this edition, provides an overview of Alton’s biography and career and explores the influence of his work on contemporary cinematography.


Denim: From Cowboys to Catwalks: A Visual History of the World’s Most Legendary Fabric
Book Description
Publication Date: September 1, 2005
The story of denim is a tale rich in paradox. Cherished alike by cowboys and models, the fabric is at once a symbol of the counterculture and the raw material of a major industry. A simple fabric, dating back to 17th-century France, denim today is ubiquitous: Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood have pushed it into the forefront of high fashion; and Calvin Klein and Giorgio Armani have made it the basis for billion-dollar brands. This homage to the much-loved fabric delves deep into the archives to trace the origins and development of denim. It features rare pictures of icons wearing denim, like Marilyn Monroe and Steve McQueen, plus specially commissioned photos of rare and classic garments from the 1880s to the present day. It is complete with a glossary and a guide to valuable vintage items.

Even though like all of you I own denim clothes, I admit to until prepping for this post, being relatively ignorant of exactly what Denim was. I mean fabric content, is typically not on the foremost of my mind. I’m sure I picked up it was cotton in the many years of buying jeans, but if so only as background noise. With prepping for this post, it became actual consumed and recognized knowledge. So what is Denim? For those of you like me, ignorant of fabric content… Well, it’s a uniquely American popularized byproduct of the slave-trade it’s nothing more than an incredibly tough form of cotton weave. I admit to being intrigued enough, to want to learn more.


Eyes with Winged Thoughts: Poems and Photographs
From Booklist
Gordon Parks is remarkable: a Renaissance man who has mastered photography, filmmaking, and writing. The story of his life is certainly an incredible one, which explains why Parks has written a new memoir titled A Hungry Heart (2005). This collection of poems and photographs, however, will add yet another dimension to Parks’ life story. From the resonant words and lessons of his parents to meditations on current events–terrorism, the tsunami, the war in Iraq–the poems are candid snapshots of Parks’ emotional life. Words harmonize with landscape photographs and images of strangers walking through their lives without a sense of being observed. Transcending voyeurism, Parks’ photographs reveal vulnerabilities of the human experience with grace and compassion. After all, Parks understands vulnerability and willingly displays it in his writing. In his 90s and still driven to experience what the world has to offer, and to express his response to it, Gordon Parks is an inspiration to us all.– Janet St. John

Gordon Park’s was a renaissance man, in the highest definition of that word. Photographer, writer, musician, cowboy, director. And with his passing, the world lost one of the last adventurers, one of the last of a dying breed… called men. All his books, are highly recommended.


Face Forward
Amazon.com Review
“Makeup should be fun, not fascist,” celebrity makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin avers in Face Forward, his third book. One of the most adored stylists among fashionistas, entertainment divas, and high-society jet setters, Southern-born Aucoin arrived on the New York fashion scene in the early ’80s, a period he ridicules for its ’50s-era conservatism and McCarthyist us-against-them values. His career since has been motivated by the feel-good ideals of acceptance, diversity, and self-love, and the vain world of beauty has eagerly participated in his vision. While one may puzzle on how it is he finds fulfillment in an industry known for its superficiality and elitism, Aucoin’s words are nonetheless infectious and the touches of his brushes inspired.

Conceived as an exploration of the past, present, and future of beauty, Face Forward is an ingenious showcase of the transformative, creative possibilities of makeup, with portraits of everyone from Julia Roberts to Sharon Stone, Martha Stewart to his mother, Thelma. His crafted visages range from minimal-application makeovers of friends to elaborate re-creations of such Hollywood icons as Audrey Hepburn (Calista Flockhart), James Dean (Gwyneth Paltrow), and Veronica Lake (shockingly, Martha Stewart) and such pop-culture personalities as Cher (socialite Alexandra von Furstenberg) and Siouxsie Sioux (Winona Ryder). The final pages present his ideas for looks to come, such as “Explorer,” Mary J. Blige covered in eggplant body makeup with a rainbow of metallic eye shadows over her eyes and thickly glossed red lips; “Floralia,” a freckled Lucy Liu resembling a sprite from A Midsummer’s Night Dream; and “Venusian de Milo,” Sharon Stone as an orange-haired, one-breast-baring sci-fi femme fatale. Throughout, Aucoin augments an already colorful book with step-by-step instruction, chatty commentary on each look and model, and riffs on such topics as friendship, politics (he repeatedly applauds the Clinton Administration for embracing diversity in the ’90s), and the environment.

“Appreciating (even highlighting) individuality is one of the great things about makeup,” asserts Aucoin, and Face Forward is a dazzling testament to that belief. For those who see the fun of makeup and are eager to experiment with the virtually unlimited possibilities of it, this book is a boon. –Rebecca Wright –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Okay I admit this last one is an odd choice. But I love that cover, plus we all have women in our lives that we can give this book to as a present. 🙂


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!

If you’re a publisher, writer, or other creative representative looking to submit items for WEDNESDAYS WORDS, just leave a comment on this post with your email/contact info, comments don’t get posted they come right to me, and I’ll reach out to you with the snail mail details.

And as far as readers, if you see items on WEDNESDAYS WORDS you’re considering purchasing then, if you are able and would like to support this blog, please utilize the attached links.

Your helpful purchases through those links, generates much appreciated pennies to keep this blog running. Your feedback and support… just way cool, and way appreciated. Thanks!

Sponsored by Ebay Store: Deals of the Day!

WEDNESDAYS WORDS

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.

Dreams and Wonders: Stories from the Dawn of Modern Fantasy
by Mike Ashley (Paperback)
Dreams and Wonders: Stories from the Dawn of Modern Fantasy
Book Description
Publication Date: August 19, 2010
Original anthology of 23 tales samples some of the best modern fantasy literature from the 19th and early 20th centuries. It features writers who influenced J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and other master fantasists, including Andrew Lang, Kenneth Grahame, George MacDonald, Edith Nesbit, William Morris, and E. T. A. Hoffmann.


Body Painting: Masterpieces by Joanne Gair
by Joanne Gair (Hardcover)
Body Painting: Masterpieces by Joanne Gair
Book Description
Publication Date: January 12, 2010
Stunning works of art using the human body as the canvas. If ever there was a defining moment in a career, for renowned body-painting artist Joanne Gair it was painting “that suit” on Demi Moore for the cover of Vanity Fair. From swimsuits for Sports Illustrated or music videos with Madonna, Gair’s career allows us to see the human body transformed, creating unforgettable images. During a career spanning over 20 years, she has worked with Elle McPherson, Heidi Klum, Pamela Anderson, Rachel Hunter, and Molly Sims to name a few. Among the star photographers also included are Michel Comte, David LaChapelle, Annie Leibovitz, Herb Ritts, Howard Schatz, and Mark Seliger. Gair’s collaborations have resulted in thousands of extraordinary photographs which have made an impact on pop culture.

Braziliangels
by Joaquim Nabuco (Hardcover)
Braziliangels
Book Description
Publication Date: October 28, 2010
A rare opportunity to appreciate the incomparable beauty of BrazilÆs women in the equally striking environs of this tropical paradise. Photographer Joaquim NabucoÆs collection of nude art photos creates a lush, whimsical, and sensual landscape that revolves around the feminine, exotic, and vibrant character of these women. From beaches, forests, mountains, and rivers to BrazilÆs big cities and historical sites, Nabuco masterfully frames his subjects, while eliciting a rich and radiant response from them before capturing his images. The themes revealed by these art nudes tells a story of BrazilÆs culture and the angels who grace its natural beauty.

Drawn to Sin by Daniel Kiessler
by Daniel Kiessler (Paperback)
Drawn to Sin by Daniel Kiessler


Dark Tower Omnibus
by Stephen King (Hardcover)
Dark Tower Omnibus
Book Description
Publication Date: September 21, 2011
The ultimate Dark Tower collection! An oversized hardcover collecting the first five volumes of Marvel’s Dark Tower series plus Dark Tower Companion, a separate volume of bonus material, both packaged in a deluxe slipcase!

DARK TOWER OMNIBUS

“The Man in Black fled across the desert…and the gunslinger followed.” With those words from a short story published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Stephen King launched one of the most seminal characters in his lifetime of writing into a destiny fraught with danger, death, triumph and loss. In the almost thirty years since that momentous occasion, King introduced millions of readers to the densely textured realm of Mid-World through his magnum opus, the Dark Tower series of novels. King joined with Marvel in 2007 to bring his masterwork of fantasy to a new generation of readers. Adding stunning new textures to the mythos of Roland and Mid-World for four years, the initial arc of King and Marvel’s union is now complete, and the entire run is collected here. Collecting DARK TOWER: THE GUNSLINGER BORN #1-7, THE LONG ROAD HOME #1-5, TREACHERY #1-6, SORCERER #1, THE FALL OF GILEAD #1-6 and THE BATTLE OF JERICHO HILL #1-5. 296 PGS

Dark Tower Omnibus Companion

Chock full of essential short stories, bonus material and apocrypha, this volume is a must-read for Stephen King enthusiasts. Three guidebooks overseen by Dark Tower: A Concordance author Robin Furth unlock the many secrets of Roland Deschain, the Gunslingers, Gilead and the dark forces of Farson – bringing readers greater insight into the people, places and things of Mid-World. And supplemental material from the first thirty issues of Marvel’s Dark Tower series shed even more light on King’s epic – with short stories by Furth, and a tour through artists Jae Lee and Richard Isanove’s sketchbooks, and more! Collecting DARK TOWER: GUNSLINGER’S GUIDEBOOK, END-WORLD ALMANAC and GUIDE TO GILEAD; MARVEL SPOTLIGHT: DARK TOWER; and material from DARK TOWER: THE GUNSLINGER BORN #1-7, THE LONG ROAD HOME #1-5, TREACHERY #1-6, SORCERER #1, THE FALL OF GILEAD #1-6 and THE BATTLE OF JERICHO HILL #1-5. 600 PGS.

FANTASTIC ART OF ARTHUR SUYDAM HC
by T.W. French (Hardcover)
FANTASTIC ART OF ARTHUR SUYDAM HC

Transient Man
by Justin Coro Kaufman (Hardcover)
Transient Man


The Sixth Gun, Vol. 1
by Cullen Bunn (Paperback)
Book Description
Publication Date: January 25, 2011
During the darkest days of the Civil War, wicked cutthroats came into possession of six pistols of otherworldly power. In time the Sixth Gun, the most dangerous of the weapons, vanished. When the gun surfaces in the hands of an innocent girl, dark forces reawaken. Vile men thought long dead set their sights on retrieving the gun and killing the girl. Only Drake Sinclair, a gunfighter with a shadowy past, stands in their way.

The Sixth Gun, Vol. 1


The Century’s Best Horror Fiction Volume 1
by John Pelan (Hardcover)
The Century’s Best Horror Fiction Volume 1
Book Description
Publication Date: December 30, 2010
In celebration of the new millennium, Cemetery Dance Publications has commissioned a spectacular two-volume anthology project under the editorship of noted author and historian of the horror genre, John Pelan.

John will be selecting one story published during each year of the 20th Century (1901-2000) as the most notable story of that year — all 100 stories will then be collected in The Century’s Best Horror Fiction.

The ground rules are simple: Only one selection per author. Only one selection per year.

Two huge volumes, one hundred authors, one hundred classic stories, over 700,000 words of fiction — history in the making!


The Best of Kage Baker
by Kage Baker (Hardcover)
The Best of Kage Baker
Book Description
Publication Date: April 30, 2012
Kage Baker’s death in 2010 silenced one of the most distinctive, consistently engaging voices in contemporary fiction. A late starter, Baker published her first short stories in 1997, at the age of forty-five. From then until the end of her life, she wrote prolifically and well, leaving an astonishing body of work behind.

The Best of Kage Baker is a treasure trove that gathers together twenty stories and novellas, eleven of which have never been collected anywhere. The volume is bookended by a pair of tales from her best known and best loved creation: The Company, with its vivid cast of time traveling immortals. In ‘Noble Mold,’ Mendoza the botanist and Joseph, the ancient ‘facilitator,’ find themselves in 19th century California, where a straightforward acquisition grows unexpectedly complex, requiring, in the end, a carefully engineered ‘miracle.’ In ‘The Carpet Beds of Sutro Park,’ an autistic Company operative named Ezra encounters a lost soul named Kristy Ann, and finds a way to give her back the world that she has lost.


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!

If you’re a publisher, writer, or other creative representative looking to submit items for WEDNESDAYS WORDS, just leave a comment on this post with your email/contact info, comments don’t get posted they come right to me, and I’ll reach out to you with the snail mail details.

And as far as readers, if you see items on WEDNESDAYS WORDS you’re considering purchasing then, if you are able and would like to support this blog, please utilize the attached links.

Your helpful purchases through those links, generates much appreciated pennies to keep this blog running. Your feedback and support… just way cool, and way appreciated. Thanks!

Sponsored by Ebay Store: Deals of the Day!

WEDNESDAYS WORDS

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:

Carlos Schwabe, Symboliste et Visionnaire (French Edition)

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.

Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein:Get your copy while you can afford it 🙂

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:

Art Of Erik Drudwyn (Art Fantastix)


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!

If you’re a publisher, writer, or other creative representative looking to submit items for WEDNESDAYS WORDS, just leave a comment on this post with your email/contact info, comments don’t get posted they come right to me, and I’ll reach out to you with the snail mail details.

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Your helpful purchases through those links, generates much appreciated pennies to keep this blog running. Your feedback and support… just way cool, and way appreciated. Thanks!

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Ligotti vs Ligotti: Comparing Subterranean Press’ vs Carroll & Graf’s GRIMSCRIBE editions

Ligotti vs Ligotti: Comparing Subterranean Press’ vs Carroll & Graf’s GRIMSCRIBE editions

So I just received in the mail, the now Out of Print, Subterranean Press’ 2011 HC edition of GRIMSCRIBE. Now I own the original 1991 Carroll & Graf edition, but my interest was piqued by the sold out nature of previous Subterranean Press editions, the wonderful cover art as well as the description of their Grimscribe edition as being revised and definitive.

Here’s the description:

“Grimscribe
by Thomas Ligotti

Dust jacket by Aeron Alfrey.

Limited: (sold out)
Trade: (sold out)
ISBN: 978-1-59606-409-6

Grimscribe: His Lives and Works is the second volume in a series of revised, definitive editions of the horror story collections of Thomas Ligotti. First published in 1991 by Carroll & Graf in the United States and Robinson Publishing in England, Grimscribe garnered significantly more recognition than Ligotti’s first collection, Songs of a Dead Dreamer, which was issued two years earlier by the same publishers.”

So biting the bullet I picked up one of the sold out Subterranean editions (sold out in less than 3 months, which is pretty darn impressive), thankfully for not too much more than cover price (it’s now, in the brief 2 weeks since I purchased it, climbed to the 3 figure range) and having perused it today I have to say, my initial impression upon taking it out of the box is… I’m a bit dissapointed.

I mean I really am disposed to like imprints such as Centipede Press and Subterranean Press, that in this day of digital are trying to make the hardcopy something attractive and special. My problem is for the price, I’m not even talking the marked up reseller’s price, I’m talking Subterranean’s retail price, GRIMSCRIBE when finally seen is underwhelming.

I mean for the money I don’t think a slipcover done to quality, embossing on the cover, and maybe spot illustrations and a ribbon marker and gilded pages are too much to ask. Look at books such as Dark Horse’s FRANKENSTEIN illustrated by Bernie Wrightson, which sells for a fraction of the price of Subterranean’s books, but in terms of quality there is no comparison. Dark Horse’s FRANKENSTEIN is a work of art. Something you’re going to be treasuring and proud to have on your shelf for a long time.

Bernie Wrightsons Frankenstein

I can’t say that for Subterranean’s GRIMSCRIBE.

The first thing that strikes me is it’s a smaller, less imposing/less impressive book than what I was expecting. Just average HC trade dimensions. And the slipcover which boasts imaginative art by Aeron Alfrey, unfortunately undermines that art quite a bit with a muted, even muddy looking printing, and cropping/shrinking the image rather than allowing it to take up a respectable amount of the cover.

But getting beyond the slipcover the book itself is just an average brown coated HC, with blue type on the binding. The interior however does offer large, legible, and attractive type.

Now onto the heart of the matter, the “revised, definitive” nature of this new version. Is it or isn’t it, an improvement over the original?

Well comparing the two versions there are minor differences, what Ligotti described thusly:

“One thing I did not do is deliberately seek out changes. Of course there would be errors that needed corrections and phrases that needed to be polished. But I didn’t look to shorten or lengthen the stories or any part of them, or to make my prose leaner or more baroque, or to in any way alter the tone of a given story. I just read the books carefully from start to finish and keep on the lookout for additions and deletions that would enhance each story, at least to my mind.”—- see full article here.

Okay, a writer can change his work if he wants, I mean it’s his work. But sometimes you can’t go home, and sometimes a writer or a boxer or an actor’s best work is behind him rather than in front. Frank Miller’s great comics are all decades in the past, his current work a poor shadow of him in his prime. Bernie Wrightson is one of the most hailed and influential artists of the 70s and 80s, but his work in the 21st century (while still head and shoulders above most artists) for a variety of reasons, cannot compare to the artist he was. I’m saying the changes a 21st century Thomas Ligotti makes are perhaps not an improvement on the writing of a 20th century Thomas Ligotti.

Examples, changes are small, but they are I think telling, a tendency to the dumbed down, and often clumsy phrasing rather than the lyric poetry and embracing of the extremes of youth:

THE LAST FEAST OF HARLEQUIN

Original:

“At certain times I could almost dissolve entirely into this inner realm of awful purity and emptiness. I remember those invisible moments when in disguise I drifted through the streets of Mirocaw, untouched by the drunken, noisy forms around me: untouchable.”

Revised 2011 Subterranean version”

“At certain times I could almost dissolve entirely into this inner realm of purity and emptiness, the paradise of the unborn. I remember how I was momentarily overtaken by a feeling I had never known when in disguise I drifted through the streets of Mirocaw, untouched by the drunken, noisy forms around me: untouchable.”

Again the changes aren’t many and aren’t drastic, I just don’t think they improve on the original and for the most part I find them to be the clunky exposition of age, rather than the fertile and frenetic choices of a visionary.

I find his earlier word choices, in almost every case, to be the stronger, more poetic, more memorable. The mating of differences, terms like “awful purity” and “invisible moments” wonderful baroque phrasing of the original, that are missed in this revised edition.

THE SPECTACLES IN THE DRAWER

“Without an author whoever lived in this world, if you will recall what I told you about it.” that is a clunky, and unwieldy sentence in the revised version.

In the original it is:

“Without a living author, if you will recall what I told you about it.”

Original:
“Plomb had done nothing less than multiplied these visions into infinity, creating oceans of his own blood and enabling himself to see with countless eyes. Entranced by such aspiration, I gazed at the mirrors in speechless wonder. Among them was one I remembered looking into some days– or was it weeks? –before.”

Revized Suibterranean version:
“Plomb had done nothing less than multiplied these visions into infinity, creating oceans of his own blood and enabling himself to see with countless eyes. Entranced by such aspiration, I gazed at the mirrors in speechless wonder. Among them was that tilting mirror I remembered looking into not so long ago.”

Again, not a major change, a few words, but they tend to be poorly chosen, and a bit boring and pedestrian compared to the original.

And such ‘improvements’ run throughout the stories in the 2011 Subterranean collection.

The only thing the Subterranean version has going for it is the slightly flawed slipcover, which flaws and all is a 100 times better than the pathetic slipcover on the original 1991 HC. Unfortunately a slipcover is not enough. So my recommendation, save yourself the dough on Subterranean’s “revised, definitive” edition and get the original HC instead and have your own nice slipcover made for it(all of which can be done for less than the price the Subterranean books are going for).

Grimscribe: His Lives and Works

Grimscribe: His Life and Works