io9 Lovecraft Art Book Feature

Jeff VanderMeer • June 27th, 2008 @ 12:24 pm • Book Reviews, Culture, Uncategorized


(Art by John Coulthart)

io9 has just posted our gi-normous feature on The Art of Lovecraft: Artists Inspired by Lovecraft, published by Centipede Press. We interviewed Ian Miller, Bob Eggleton, John Coulthart, John Picacio, Harry O. Morris, and Jerad Walters (the publisher) for the feature, and it includes more than 20 selections from the book in a really cool gallery format. Please spread the word–it’s an important volume, and one of the most beautiful books we’ve ever seen. (See also this piece on the book.)

Below find “outtakes from the interviews that we couldn’t fit into the feature.

Bob Eggleton: The writing is really scary and, I just like how the prosaic can become completely frightening and alien with a few pages. He wrote in this descriptive fashion that, no matter how many times you re-read it, a different vision would come to mind each time. Things are hinted at, but at the same time, described in such a way that they truly have their own form and anatomy. Lovecraft had this very push-me/pull-you style of working…It’s like Mythology. He writes these frightening myths. Look at “At The Mountains of Madness”? It starts off as this expedition to a “what if” myth of a land and descends into sort of a archeological tale that all seems very matter of fact and then becomes dark and scary. He taps into the question of do these things exist in the context of the story or, truly is it someone going mad?

John Picacio: The unspeakable….the kind of terror I can’t quite wrap my mind around. Sometimes I think that massive black tornadoes have that kind of power — a concentration of power that’s so large and overwhelming that it crosses beyond the threshold of terror into paralyzing awe. For me, that’s what the best Lovecraft does. It’s got that primal power that’s seldom matched, even in works that are better written than Lovecraft’s work was.


(photo by Matt Staggs)

John Coulthart: I think initially it was that skilful blend of sf and horror. When I was a kid I always enjoyed reading ghosts stories as much as science fiction. The first story of Lovecraft’s I read was The Colour Out of Space, a tale of a meteorite which crashes near a farm and whose insidious infection slowly affects the farm and the surrounding
countryside. That’s an incredibly chilling story–one of his very best–and yet there’s nothing supernatural in it. In his best work he builds a sinister atmosphere to a remarkable degree, something he’d learned by studying previous writers. Other writers of the period and even more recent writers often seem lightweight in comparison. Later
on I got drawn into the tangled web of the Cthulhu Mythos which is a compelling attraction for new readers.

People don’t have to be religious to feel the draw of a mythology or invented taxonomy, you can see that in other areas whether it’s Star Trek, Star Wars or Harry Potter. That’s probably the juvenile attraction; the more sophisticated one would be the attraction for people such as Michel Houellebecq who see Lovecraft as a kind of pulp Kafka or Camus. You can be drawn into his writing by something trivial like Hello Cthulhu then journey deeper to discover a great imagination at work and even a philosophical viewpoint; anything that works on all those levels we need to label “art”.
Bob Eggleton

One Response to “io9 Lovecraft Art Book Feature”

  1. Cheryl’s Mewsings » Blog Archive » Tentacles Galore says:

    [...] with luminaries such as Bob Eggleton, John Picacio and John Coulthart. On his own blog Jeff has added a few outtakes that didn’t quite make it into the io9 column. Tentacles everywhere. (And yes, it is [...]

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