About the Author
H P Lovecraft (1890-1937) is the most influential horror writer of the 20th century. His stories of occult and cosmic terror have drawn praise from William S. Burroughs, Angela Carter and Jorge Luis Borges and continue to inspire new generations of writers and artists. A critically-acclaimed new critical biography of Lovecraft is x
John Coulthart is one of H. P. Lovecrafts major visual interpreters. As an artist for David Britrons Lord Horror series, his work has been described as shocking... harmful, harrowing and brilliant and has been banned on the grounds of obscenity by British law courts. He has also worked for DC Comics and is known for striking metal CD cover art and fantasy book covers. He lives in Manchester, England.
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Introduction by Alan Moore John Coulthart is the man that Beardsley or Rossetti would have been had they grown up somewhere like Salford and had access to a VCR. Had his heart set on a career as poet maudit but then failed the medical. Hed got the look, hed got the attitude, the only thing that let him down was the consumption. You cant be a decadent unless youre coughing poppies, handkerchief like Flanders with a monogram. It was unfair. Hed come so close. The cathode tan. The skin so sensitive it acted as a film emulsion. Out on midnight walks, standing in one spot for too long, ends up with constellations printed on his cheeks and forehead. Pallor, though, is not enough. He needed some externalized display of illness, some tuberculotic flourish. Finally, he siphons off the inner toxins using a Rapidograph as catheter, blots up the nightmare seepage onto Bristol board, septic chromatograms that are at first inchoate, without form. Lovecraft provides an alphabet, a hideous vocabulary within which the artist can contain these gorgeous, sinister transmissions. Later, other conduits are discovered, these including David Brittons fascist operatic lead, Lord Horror; Sweeney Todd at high tea with the Mitfords. Coulthart re- imagines Auschwitz out of Lovecrafts Rlyeh, as a horrible lost temple sunk beneath the murk of Europes dreamtime. Banished from political reality, the Old Ones lurk there at the threshold and anticipate their terrible return. Blast patterns from a Brick Lane nailbomb explicate the Yellow Sign. Azathoth manifests in Deansgate, a mosaic of fire and flying splinterglass. Coulthart soaks up the cultural heavy metals, will metabolise them, pass them on in a depleted form as hatched miasmas, masonries collapsed in stipple. Wet black viper lines, escaped and slithering, hissing from the nib. At 3.00 AM, the shadingtrance: all ordinary consciousness is bound into the robot movements of the wrist. Fevers infect the ink, the pen itself begins to draw. Depth of obsession a perspective tool. Imagined spectra in the monochrome, texture pupates and turns to many-legged colour. Coultharts cellar-orchid talent spreads, extends itself like kudzu. Missioncreep. Absorbs the new machinery in rolling fin de sicle fog, in purple cloud. Transformative archaism, a gothic drift. Technology is made Iaudanum and the astral light goes digital...