Clark Ashton Smith

Clark Ashton Smith (1893-1961 was a poet, author and artist. It seems almost obligatory to note that he, along with Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard were the three top writers for Weird Tales during it’s peak period. Frankly, I think Smith writes better than either of the other two, btwos Clark Ashton Smithand is lesser known today because he never made that one big creative breakthrough that produced a Conan or Cthulhu. But his “The Dweller in the Gulf” sits comfortably on my top ten list of horror stories, where no Howard story has ever come close. I’m not a fan of his poetry, but I have never warmed to poetry in general; I find Lovecraft’s verse completely unreadable, a medium where his pomposity and pretentiousness run wild.

Smith also painted and sculpted. I am not impressed with his work, though some of his sculptures capture a certain weird power. For the most part, though, I find his drawings amateurish. Lovecraft, however, was a friend and a fan, mentioning Smith in the same breath as Sidney Sime and Gustav DorĂ©, and this series is not about my favorite artists, but about artists that have a relationship to HPL and his work. . Smith, being a contemporary, a friend, a correspondent, and a fellow weird fiction writer who made his own numerous contributions to Lovecraft’s evolving “mythos,” has the greatest claim to that description. August Dereleth used Smith’s statues on the cover of the second HPL Arkham book, Beyond the Wall of Sleep and Others.

All the artwork here is taken from the incredibly comprehensive website devoted to Smith, The Eldritch Dark, an excellent site devoted to all of CAS’s work. There are pages and pages of his art, biographical details, bibliographies, and links to all other kinds of related stuff, If you’re a fan of weird fiction, you owe it to yourself to bookmark this page and explore it in depth. I looked for a name of the website author and couldn’t find one. Whoever it is, he or she has done a fantastic job.

 

^ 7 Comments...

  1. David Dwyer

    In the About ED section, Boyd Pearson is the webmaster and site owner and the website began in July 1997. If you click on his name there it will open up a form to email/contact him.

  2. Sean O'Halpin

    The website’s author appears to be Boyd Pearson. See http://www.eldritchdark.com/contact

  3. Dumb post

    Being a renaissance man was quite the thing back then-Robert Bloch also painted as a youth (hence the visions of Harrison Blake: his writing style was chronically visual).
    As for the writing style of Mr. Smith, one finds it to be an uncomfortable mix of of Edgar Rice Burroughs & James Branch Cabells (who he references). Which still makes it better than quite a lot of other dark fantasy, on which he has had a great impact.

  4. lovecraf

    Well, my apologies to Boyd Pearson for not looking hard enough. I’d like to see a website devoted to HPL with as much personal memorabilia. Not just photos of HPL, but his rooms, his drawings, etc. Most are available but, as far as I know, they are scattered all over creation.

  5. Luke

    On a strictly technical level, I’d argue that Klarkash-Ton was the best of the three. His short stories are crafted to create a singular effect, with every word crafted with that goal specifically in mind (as Poe recommended).
    That said, I’ve found few of his stories haunt me, the way the other two do with some regularity. It probably has to do with that very focus.

    I do think that he should be better known. He was a very visual writer. Adapting much of his work to the medium of the silver screen would be both easy and effective–possibly more effective than the written works themselves. (Unlike the hash screenwriters have regularly made of Howard, Lovecraft, and Burroughs.)

    My favorite story of his is “Master of the Asteroid”. It takes his detached and somewhat clinical voice, and through the use of an apocalyptic log, makes it into a major strength.

    I raid his poetry for RPG material on a fairly regular basis. Not quite as often as I raid REH’s, but still, there’s some good material to play with.

  6. Dumb post

    @Luke: Mr. Smith was not quite as troubled a person as the others were (can not imagine Lovecraft writing “The Venus of Azombeii”, for a variety of reasons). He also had interests very much his own; his use of the material-gemstones, architecture, curios, etc-as a literary motif is harder for me to grasp than the Howards historical one. But I quiver at the thought of what screenwriters would make of his (let alone Mr. Cabells) wit.

  7. Dumb post

    Those devoted to the relations of St. Toad may find this interesting, by the way:
    http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/sjf/sjf00.htm