If Harry Clarke’s name comes up in conversation these days, it’s likely in reference to his stained glass work. At least, that’s what keeps his reputation up in the fine art world. He started, however, as a book illustrator in the Golden Age of book illustration and his early reputation in that field put him up among the greats. His most widely available work these days, as far as I can tell, are his illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Magic and Mystery, found in numerous cheap reprint editions. Not that that is a bad thing. Even though the prints are often a bit on the muddy side, Clarke’s imagination, style and attention to detail can claw their way through multiple layers of smudged ink with relative ease. The Wikipedia article linked to above says his work was compared to Beardsley and Nielsen, and if you’re familiar with those artists, you’ll immediately see why. Nielsen’s art takes stylization much farther and, at least to me, has a more Nordic flavor; Beardley’s work is less baroque and more disturbing on a subconscious and sexual level; Clarke, though, is my favorite as far as a sense of mystery and otherworldliness. Unlike Sidney Sime, Clarke doesn’t let whimsy intrude in his pictures, at least not often. Even some of his religious work in stained glass has a bit of the nightmare about it.
I’m not sure he would be a particular good choice to illustrate Lovecraft. His style has that decadent feeling of the late 19th century, which is perfect for Poe but seems overwrought for HPL’s fiction. At any rate, his work deserves broader recognition among fans today than it has. Hopefully, the gallery below will help the word spread.
First full week of the new semester is done, and I think it’s going to be a good one. My Intro to 3D classes are already doing interesting work as they explore the Maya interface.
Just finished Dexter, Season 6. I’ve enjoyed the series, more or less, but this one drove completely off the cliff with the weakest story arcs and worst writing thus far. I’ve always found Jeenifer Carpenter to be unbearably annoying in any role she’s played –she almost ruins the U.S. version of REC, even though I like the overall movie better than the Spanish original–but when her role is also ill-conceived, it’s like suicide by drowning. This season was more like Dallas than the satire of human relationships that made the first five seasons so enjoyable. Breaking Bad, a very different kind of horror story, has ended for the year, but I have high hopes for the final eight-episode season to really finish off this wacky show off with a bang.
And lest we forget, it’s only a little over a month until the new season of The Walking Dead.
Here’s a drawing I’ve been working on in all that spare time I have. Eventually I plan to paint it. For those of you not into video games, Isaac Clarke, hero of Dead Space is on the left; on the right is my favorite of the Big Daddies from Bioshock.
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And have a good weekend.
There’s not much I can tell you about Jeffrey Knight Potter. Aside from his art, he doesn’t seem to have much of a presence on the web, or for that matter, in print. He has no entries in any f the various science fiction, fantasy and horror encyclopedias I’ve checked; he has no facebook page; googling for his name, in what every form you choose brings up no personal details, and that’s after you’ve managed to sort out the five gazillion J.K. Rowling/Harry POTTER hits. Even his own website, jkpotter.com, provides nothing in the way of birth date, state of residence or favorite pet’s name.
Since Mr. Potter apparently wishes to let his art speak for him, I’ll do the same, except to point out that he is one of the most original, influential and disturbing fantasy artists of all time. His book and magazine illustrations dominated the Lovecraftian field for a long time, but his most disturbing images are his personal work. Originally he worked with traditional photo techniques, though he later switched to Photoshop. There are at least two book collections of his work, Horripilations and Neurotica, both of which are still available.
Where do people find the time to make these Lovecraftian shorts? Even a bad movie takes a lot of time and resources, and most of these are pretty good and pretty ambitious for an amateur production. This version of The Haunter of the Dark has some playback issues, but is still worth watching.
Some weeks there is just nothing to say, so I’m going to be bold and not say it. Please vote for LIM at Top Web Comics. Next Wednesday, a look at artist J. K. Potter (try googling that and see how far you get.)
Have a good weekend.
Unless you’re a devoted fan of horror and fantasy, it’s likely you’ve never heard of Sidney Sime (1867-1941). He was on his way to being forgotten even during his own lifetime, due as much to his own admitted fondness for loafing as anything else. After the 1920s he produced less and less work, and almost no illustrations. Yet during the late 19th-early 20th century he was one of the most popular and best known illustrators of his day. He worked with a variety of techniques, but his style was evocative of a weird mixture of Gustave Doré and Aubrey Beardsley.
Lovecraft admired his work, and even mentions Sime directly in “Pickman’s Model”and “The Call of Cthulhu” as one of those artists who had that same certain talent for evoking the weird and terrible in art.
His most famous work consists of the illustrations he did for Lord Dunsany‘s collections. starting with The Gods of Pegana in 1905. This association lasted for seventeen years, until 1922, which was about the time that Sime began his life of loafing. Dunsany’s stories are obviously where Lovecraft encountered Sime’s work; Sime’s other work appeared mostly in British magazines like The Idler (which he owned at one time), Pick-Me-Up and others, which Lovecraft would not have had access to.
There have been several collections of Sime’s illustrations, mostly those from the Dunsany period, but none are in print today. Most reprints of Dunasny’s work omit the illustrations, but there are a few scattered volume that include them. Used copies of the collections can be quite expensive –I’ve seen one of them listed at over a thousand dollars–but Sidney Sime: Master of the Mysterious can still be found for a more reasonable price. The reproductions aren’t the finest, but we have to take what we can get.
Although I’m a big fan of Simes’s work, Sime had a satirical streak and it shows up in many of his finest illustrations. He is, no question, a master of conveying a certain unearthly grandeur within the confines of a realistic style and there are particular pieces that might even be appropriate for some of Lovecraft’s later stories. But his creatures, while evocative and original, have a sense of impishness and humor that, at least today, would destroy the slow steady tension of Lovecraft’s later work.
Still, he deserves more than to be forgotten. He’s one of the great fantasy artists. As evidence, enjoy this small sampling of his work:
Kind of a slow week, at least as regards horror and fandom and such. Mike Davis, editor of the outstanding Lovecraft E-zine has had some medical problems, which I know we all hope end soon and well.
Among the many things I had to let go of during my hiatus was thanking those folks who donated to Lovecraft is Missing. It’s downright boorish to not have done so, but I didn’t and I apologize, and thank you now. I don’t make a big issue of soliciting donations, but I use the money strictly for advertising. LIM is a labor of love and I’ve never seen it as a profit center. The only reason I don’t offer t-shirts is that I don’t have the time, but I will only do it for the fun of it, not to make money. Not altruistic, not a noble artist, just want to do the comic, not a merchandise emporium.
I had a a frustrating (and, in retrospect, amusing) experience with the grand finale of Dead Space, a video game with a lot of Lovecraftian influence. The last obstacle is a boss fight with the Hive Mind, a six-story high monster with five “eye”s on long stalks, several monstrous tentacles, multiple mouths, and five glowing hearts. As a relatively inexperienced gamer, I found the fight to be a bitch and had to go through it 18 times to finally beat it. My understanding was that this was the end of the game, with only a short non-interactive scene to wrap things up, but instead I found myself confronted by yet another puzzle. Although the flight deck was clear, I could not run across it to the shuttle. I could only run in a wide semi-circle around the opposite side of the deck. There was nothing holding me, but I shot, bombed, kinesis-ed and stasis-ed everything in sight before I finally caught on that it was a glitch in the gameSo I had to quite and go back and fight the Hive Mind yet another time to get to the finale. This particular fight was framed by two long cut scenes and you couldn’t skip them (other games I’ve played give you this option) so it was very tedious, and I was royally pissed. All things considered,though, as complex as the programming on these things is, I’m surprised glitches don’t happen more often than they do.
Next week I’m going to start a short series on artists who have a Lovecraftian connection, whether they illustrated his stories or not.
Finallyy, a fun and ambitious amateur film of The Shadow out of Time.
Hvae a good week.
Today is the last day of August which means that tomorrow starts a new round of voting at Top Web Comics. You can vote once a day, every day, for Lovecraft is Missing. As I’ve noted before, there is no prize or money to be gained from ranking high, but it does serve as a cheap form of advertising. I’d appreciate your voting as often as you can.
PS – You can also (surprise!) like Lovecraft is Missing on Facebook. We have 891 likes thus far. Can we get over the 1,ooo mark? Up to you.
Baltimore: The Plague Ships by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden and Ben Stenbeck, Dark Horse Comics, 2011, $18.99
I’m thinking Mike Mignola is stretching himself a bit thin these days, and I say that as a devoted admirer of his work. With four comic book series, illustrated novels, movie deals plus the management of this empire, he’s had to delegate some of the heavy lifting to other folks, talented folks to be sure, but lesser lights just the same. Whether he micromanages all these storylines or just directs them from afar, it is still a lot of work, and the strain is showing.
Baltimore is a case in point (though I started making the point last year, with the first volume of Witchfinder.) Based on the 2007 novel he co-wrote with Christopher Golden, Mignola can’t be blamed for taking the character into a comic series. But the tone is so different, so flat compared to the grim gravitas of the novel, that the interesting parts of the character and world are lost completely. Whereas the Lord Baltimore of the novel is a silent, stalking avenger–portrayed pretty accurately, I think, on Mignola’s cover for the tpb–Golden’s script and Stenbeck’s interior art demote him to an average bald-headed avenger of wrong-doing. Though the basic information about this world and the character is carried over in flashback from the novel, the crumbling, decaying world gone wrong of the novel is here just a world with vampires, not even as engrossing as your common zombie apocalypse.
The basic set-up is a grabber: During a charge across No-Man’s Land in World War 1, Lord Henry Baltimore and his troops are slaughtered. Baltimore survives, barely, only to see giant vampire bats descend to feast upon the corpses of his men. One turns its attention on Baltimore, and Baltimore strikes back, cleaving a great chunk out of the vampire’s face before falling into unconsciousness.
Without meaning to, Baltimore has started a war between the King of the Vampires, Haigus, and the human race. By the time Baltimore is out of the hospital, the vampire plague has circled the globe, much in the same way the Spanish Influenza outbreak did in the real world. Haigus has destroyed Baltimore’s family, and Baltimore sets out to destroy the vampire king.
The novel is actually a group of short stories told by Baltimore’s fellow fighters as they wait for him in a near-deserted tavern, in a town decimated by the plague. The world has literally gone to hell, and if life was nasty, brutish and short before the war, it seems like a golden age compared to the rotting, plague-ridden, fear-driven excuse for existence now. The main thing to note here is that Baltimore is only minimally involved in these stories. He is, in fact, absent from large parts of the book, showing up only at the end to bring the story to a violent bloody conclusion. He’s not a particularly chatty character.
The comic series starts well after the events of the novel, with Baltimore in pursuit of Haigus, though most of the five issue arc is devoted to working in all the main points of Baltimore’s origin. After a bloody but disappointing opening skirmish -how do you have a disappointing skirmish with Hun vampires and a zeppelin? –Baltimore is captured by the fearful villagers, who plan to hold him for Judge Duvic, of the Inquisition. A gypsy woman, Vanessa Kalderas, helps him escape in return for his taking her along to his next destination, Livorno.
Unless my memory is worse than I think it is, Mignola and Golden have tweaked Baltimore’s world a bit. At one point the vampire-killer says, “Most of the plague dead do not rise. A very few become vampires. But I have seen others return as shambling, ravenous things.” This apparently includes giant airborne jelly-fish and zombies, though to be fair, my favorite story in the novel dealt with giant wooden puppets.
Still, it’s the atmosphere that is lacking. Ben Stenbeck is a terrific artist and he works in a Mignola-like style that fits the Hellboy universe; Dave Stewart, the colorist on all the other Mignola titles, performs the same duty here. So what’s missing?
Pacing I think. The novel is very slow and very grim. The comic moves at a fairly standard comic book speed and suffers because of it. The whole origin of Baltimore is the transformation of an honorable man into a monster as he seeks to avenge his family. Here, he’s just a little too chatty, a little too normal looking.
By the time you read this, the second trade paperback will be out and I may give a look-see. Things can always improve. But based on the initial series, I’ll read it at the store before plunking down the money. Too many other titles to buy. And a lot of them are by Mr. Mike himself. I don’t think he’s going to see any dip in his bank account, even if Baltimore just fades away.
Not quite back in the habit of making weekly blog posts, but I’m trying.
As of today, we are back on a Friday new page schedule, with various treats during the week.
Since we started so late in the month, there’s no way LIM can move up into the top 10 on Top Web Comics, but I’d like to start off September with a bang, please. And you can like us on Facebook, where I am going to try and post various original artwork more often.
Let me take this opportunity to promote some other Lovecraftian (and some not) sites that are of such high quality they deserve your interest.
The Lovecraft eZine – Mike Davis gathers all the news, gossip, and media representations regarding HPL in his eZine, whcih seems to come out every few days, sometimes twice a day Who knew there was that much stuff about HPL out there. Well, obviously, Mike, and he’s taken it upon himself to collate and supply it. He also features original fiction and links to indie movies.
The Secret Knots – Juan Santapau’s dream-like comic continues to astound me. How does he do it? It’s an amazing strip and though not horror-related, some of them are highly disturbing.
Split Lip – I won’t lie, Sam Costello advertises on this site, but that doesn’t mean his comic isn’t worth a look. He’s the writer, and different artists illustrating each story. It’s an ongoing, endless anthology.
The Unspeakable Vault of Doom- Francois Launet approaches Lovecraft from the lighter side, with large Cuddly Cthulhus and shoggoths. That’s not to say they don’t have the same goals and appetites as their more fearsome counterparts. This is likley more how Cthulhu and Co. see themselves, just a bunch of wacky folks doing what comes naturally.
A Softer World – Not Lovecraftian, not particularly disturbing, but profoundly insightful photo strips by, um, Joey and Emily.
There are more, but I have to save something for next week. There will be a review of the Baltimore comic from Dark Horse next Wednesday, and our story moves forward again next Friday.
Have a good weekend.
Ok, folks, like it or not, the wait is over. Thanks for your patience and understanding. (Now please immediately go to Top Web Comics and vote and let’s get this show back on the road!)
Why today, you might ask. Because it’s HPL’s birthday, I might answer.
But it’s Monday, you might say. I know, I might answer, but we will be back on a regular Friday schedule starting this Friday.
But, you might gasp, that would mean we would have TWO new LIM pages in a single week. That is exactly what you will have, I might reply. Happy Birthday, Old Gentleman.
Since this hiatus wasn’t planned, I stopped in the middle of a scene rather than at a cliff-hanger, so you might need to go back and re-read at least the last several pages again in order to pick the story up again. I know I’ve stumbled along the way myself here, discovering a forgotten detail that then required a certain amount of revision on the new pages. It’s hard to get back into the rhythm after so many months away, but I have all the pages loaded through the end of October, and five more beyond that already drawn and in work, so I think we’ll get there.
As most of you know, my mom passed away in June after nine months of steadily declining health. I’m glad I got to be with her a lot during that time. But I did have to occupy my mind in some way besides work, so I read and started playing video games. The only genre pieces I read were the Stephen King collection, Just After Sunset (I’ve never liked his short stories as much as his novels, but “N.” and “The Cat from Hell” were well worth the price of admission) and I also read his Dreamcatcher, which I enjoyed up to the ending, which so totally confused me I didn’t even bother to go back and try to figure it out.
Video games, I’ve found, demand concentration but are essentially mindless, so they were a good way to pass the time without dwelling on the bad stuff. I unashamedly use the cheats and check the walkthroughs online. I’ve played Bioshock 1 and 2, plus the downloadable content (Minerva’s Garden), Captain America, Arkham Asylum, and I’m currently wrapping up Dead Space. The latter is very Lovecraftian in the sense that Alien is Lovecraftian, though it is much more violent and gruesome than all HPL’s stories put together. It’s just brutal, frankly, so much so that I am using it as the starting point for some musings on the current state of horror. Bioshock 1 remains my favorite, more because of the story & design than anything else. And upon the advice of several Facebook followers, I got an Xbox version of The Call of Cthulhu:Dark Corners of the Earth game. It was made for the original Xbox system, and though you can p lay it on the xBox360, the sound doesn’t work. I’ll get to it soon, but since it starts out with a long dialogue scene, I’m not sue how I’m going to figure out how to play it. I suppose that’s where the adventure comes it. I’ll keep you posted .
Good to be back. I still have a huge amount of pages to script and draw to finish out book 5. We’ll be going until at least mid-summer 2013. Then I’ll take a scheduled break and come back for the wrap up issue. Yes, 2014 will see the conclusion of Lovecraft is Missing, but we have a long way yet to travel.
Seriously, please help spread the word that LIM is back. Tell your friends, vote at Top Web Comics (you can vote once a day; the higher up the list we are, the more people see us, the more readers we attract) and mention or link to us on Facebook. I appreciate it.
See you Friday.