Sunday, August 5, 2012

William Hope Hodgson: Master of the Weird Tale

I first discovered the work of William Hope Hodgson through my good friend and connoisseur of Weird Fiction, ontheborderland.  I started with The House on the Borderland, and it was a very quick addiction - didn't take me long to read through everything our library had.  Which wasn't much, sadly, but I've been able to find books elsewhere.  And believe me he is a Master - I have to wonder where some of his visions came from.

In 2008, Centipede Press honored Hodgson in it's Masters of the Weird Tale series.  This fine press limited edition collection includes "all of Hodgson’s finest. short fiction and his most important novels, including The House on the Borderland, The Ghost Pirates, The Night Land, and The Boats of the Glen Carig. In addition, there are twenty of Hodgson’s best tales"  (table of contents available upon request).

In addition it features illustrations and artwork by contemporary artists Stephen Fabian and Ian Miller as well as images by the late scifi/fantasy illustrator Hannes Bok.  All of whom did a great job of capturing Hodgson's weirdness in visual form.

Both Fabian and Miller are well-known for their macabre styles and their long portfolios of book covers and illustrations in the science fiction, fantasy and weird fiction realms. I encourage you to visit their websites to see the incredible talent that was harnessed for this publication.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

There can never be too many...

There can never be too many fine book publishers, in my opinion. I have learned today of a new fine press that has recently launched:

which will be specializing in "morbid and fantastical works".  They will soon be releasing their first publication, Shadow Plays by Reggie Oliver, in a limited run of 250 sewn hardbound copies.

Reggie Oliver is a contenporary stage actor, playwright, and author of ghost stories.  From his goodreads bio: 

He is the author of four highly-praised volumes of short fiction: The Dreams of Cardinal Vittorini (Haunted River 2003), The Complete Symphonies of Adolf Hitler (Haunted River 2005), Masques of Satan (Ash Tree 2007), and Madder Mysteries (Ex Occidente 2009). His stories have appeared in over 25 anthologies and, for the third year running, one of his stories appears in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, the most widely read and popular of contemporary horror anthologies.

Egaeus' publication will be of early and previously unpublished work, with introductions and commentary by the author.  I've just read a recently-published short anthology, "Mrs. Midnight and Other Stories", and am now very excited to read this new/old work of his.

I wish Egaeus great success with their efforts and look forward to this publication and more in the future!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Again with the Macabre

by Thomas Ligotti

Dust jacket by Aeron Alfrey.
Limited: (sold out)
Trade: (sold out)
ISBN: 978-1-59606-409-6

Hello friends!  My apologies for my long hiatus.  My day job has been overwhelming stressful and it's sapped all of my energy.  I do still manage to keep up the original Book Aesthete, since it takes quite a bit less effort and focus than this one.

So today I shall tell you about about the illustrator of the above book.  Grimscribe, published by Subterranean Press,  is sadly no longer available.  But I was reminded of it today when I ran across a blog entry by the illustrator, Aeron Alfrey

Alfrey is an incredibly talented illustrator who specializes in the macabre.  He curates the blog "Monster Brains" which is an absolute treasure trove of books, illustrations, and various images of monsters and grotesqueries.  He was featured in "The Thackeray T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities" which came out earlier this year, and his work has appeared in numerous books and exhibitions (and the odd album cover, too.)

Illustration from Grimscribe

The reason I bring this up today is that Alfrey is offering a limited run of prints from the book.  Visit his site for more details.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

"Poetry of Sappho" with prints by Julie Mehretu

According to Arion Press, November 2011 will see the publication of "Poetry of Sappho" with prints by Julie Mehretu.  No images are yet available on their site, but given what I've seen of her work on the 'net, this is bound to be a unique combination of poetry and art.

Mehretu, Untitled etching, 2009
"An Ethiopian-American painter known for her densely-layered abstract images, [Julie Mehretu]  lives in New York City and works there and in Berlin. She received the 2005 MacArthur Fellowship. In 2009, Arion Press’s Andrew Hoyem and Diana Ketcham met with Julie Mehretu in Berlin, where she was working on “Grey Area,” a series of seven large paintings for the Deutsche Guggenheim, shown also at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. She came to San Francisco the following spring and began work on an Arion Press edition of Sappho’s poetry."  (text from Arion Press)

Mehretu, Manifestation, 2003
Her style is a good match for the classic poems of Sappho.  From Sacred

"Sappho the poet was an innovator. At the time poetry was principally used in ceremonial contexts, and to extoll the deeds of brave soldiers. Sappho had the audacity to use the first person in poetry and to discuss deep human emotions, particularly the erotic, in ways that had never been approached by anyone before her. As for the military angle, in one of the longer fragments (#3) she says: "Some say that the fairest thing upon the dark earth is a host of horsemen, and some say a host of foot soldiers, and others again a fleet of ships, but for me it is my beloved."

Poetry of Sappho is usually associated with more traditional, or classic, or Rubinesque paintings (forgive my ignorance of appropriate art-lingo) such as Lafond's "Sappho Sings For Homer" or this 2nd image that I'm having a hell of a time identifying (anyone?).  Mehretu's interpretations promise to be a completely new experience.

Landford's Sappho Sings for Homer
Unknown Artist

More about the upcoming book:  "This large format, 14½ x 19½ inch, 112 page, book contains 20 double-page Mehretu prints in black and white. Another of her images is on the cover. The English text has been set by hand. Printed by letterpress and hand bound, the book is issued in an edition of 360." (text from Arion Press)

Although the price is well beyond my budget, I'm very much looking forward to seeing pictures of this - it is going to be amazing.

More information and pre-ordering available at Arion Press.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

C.C. Askew of Sekretcity International

C.C. Askew first came to my attention as the illustrator of the be-monocled portrait of Mikhail Bulgakov in "The Master in Cafe Morphine: An Homage".   While poking around on the internet today I discovered his blog and this lovely cover artwork for J.M. Coetzee's "Waiting for the Barbarians":

And another book cover, this for the Ukrainian poetess Iryna Shuvalova:

Askew has also been featured in both Coilhouse and in N-Sphere. Please visit his blog and his website to view more of his artwork - it is quite striking!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Not too early for the Halloween Season, is it?

Earthling Publications is a fine press publisher specializing in "exceptional horror, dark fantasy and suspense".  Naturally this piqued my interest as it's my favorite literary genre, so I dove in to see what was what.  One of the first books I came across was China Mieville's first novel, King Rat, pictured below: illustrated by Richard Kirk, bound in bonded leather, slipcased, and signed by Mieville.  Tho, sadly, no longer available (although I managed to get my mitts on a copy).

King Rat by China Mieville
This certainly bodes well!  However, this particular blog post is not intended to focus on their everyday, run-of-the-mill fabulously custom bound and beautifully illustrated selections.  (We'll get to those another day.) This post is about Halloween.  Because, not only does Earthling Publications specialize in horror on a daily basis, they also have an ultra-special Halloween series of finely bound books.

Below, Mr Dark's Carnival, 2004 - which sold out immediately:

Ticket artwork embedded in cover
French Marbled Endpapers
From the site:  "This book is an ultra-limited hardcover edition of Glen Hirshberg's haunted house novella MR. DARK'S CARNIVAL, featuring an introduction by Glen, original art by Deena Warner featured on the front board of each book, fine leather and Japanese cloth binding, French endsheets (black and orange), and slipcased. Entirely handmade."

Wow.  After this, Earthling Books has published one outstanding book each Halloween. Again from the site: "This series of books celebrates publisher Paul Miller's favorite holiday. Each October, as the air turns colder and leaves fall off the trees, Earthling will release one novel of flat-out horror, usually featuring classic terrors such as monsters and haunted houses rather than psychological suspense or real-life horrors."

Below, cover artwork for The Haunted Forest Tour (Halloween 2007). A novel by James A. Moore and Jeff Strand.  Cover and interior art by Glenn Chadbourne.

The combination of extraordinarily spooky stories, original artwork and custom binding makes for a wonderful set of collectors items.  Currently available for Halloween 2011: By Wizard Oak, a novel by Peter Crowther, with artwork by Glenn Chadbourne.

And pre-orders are being accepted for the next volume in the series, Blood Harvest by James A Moore.

All of the Halloween publications are issued as limited-run, hardbound, illustrated and slipcased or traycased editions.  It's evident how much care is taken with these - Mr. Miller's dedication to the genre shines clearly.

I know I'm getting into the Halloween spirit already.  (What, it's only two months away!  That's not too soon!)  And I am definitely looking forward to diving into one of these for Castle Macabre's Frightful Fall read-a-thon.  Possibly more than one. Oh yes, I love this season!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Lavish Bookbinding by Monique Lallier

While browsing my usual online book haunts, I came across this 1931 Metropolitan Museum publication that had been re-bound "in full black morocco with tan morocco onlays on front and rear cut in the silhouette of a city skyline" by one Monique Lallier.  I hadn't come across her work yet so I thought I'd better do a little further investigation.

Metropolitan Museum

I was thrilled to discover she is a contemporary artist that is still creating and teaching.  From her website:  "Monique Lallier is an internationally recognized book binder & book artist. She began her studies in the 1960s in Montreal at Cotnoir Cappone School of Fashion & L'Art de la Reliure book binding school with Simone B. Roy. She continuued on to Paris, with Roger Arnoult, Centro Del Bel Libro in Ascona, with Edwin Heim and Solothurn, Switzerland with Hugo Peller. Moniques' work may be found in the collections of: McGill University, Montreal, St. Joseph Oratory in Montreal for the Pope Jean- Paul II, Louisiana State University, University of North Carolina, as well as many private collections in USA, Canada, Europe and Japan."

Femme Revee. Box with hand fabricated silver corners and center piece. UNCG, Jackson Library special collection.
The sampling of book bindings available for view at her website is incredible.  I've selected a few to display but there are so many more!  Two images on the first page honor the beautiful Jacqueline Kennedy, both the book pictured below and a box designed to reflect a dress of her fashion:

Jacqueline Kennedy

Below:  "The Knell of Cock Robin. Full leather black morocco French technique binding with an agath inlaid in a relief pattern. The front cover opens to reveal a forest made with Japanese papers. Embroidered endbands. Gold titling on the spine. Full leather pull-up box with red leather onlay. Bound in 1994."

The Knell of Cock Robin
"Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare, designed and produced by Ronald King. Circle Press Publications 1979. Copy A.P. XXXI/XL. Full purple goat skin with hinged flap on the front board with silver leather inside, held closed by a snake clasp. Graphite top edge. Edge to edge doublures and fly leaves. Bound in 1988."
Antony and Cleopatra
Monique Lallier is currently still teaching, both privately and for the American Academy of Bookbinding. You can view more of her creations at her website, Monique Lallier.

*All images and quotations above are property of Monique Lallier's website, all rights reserved..