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Classic Penguin sci-fi covers from the 1970s by David Pelham


Night of Light by Philip José Farmer
 
David Pelham was art director for Penguin Books during the 1970s and was responsible for a great many arresting and distinctive covers for many of the sci-fi novels Penguin put out during that time, which is one of the great periods for sci-fi writing in general. Many of the images on this page come from a series that came out in 1972-73 that used (as Penguin often did and still does) visual cues to signal that books belong together. In this case the series had in common white text and a black background, bold use of primary colors and a strong horizon line that in some cases (Sirius, A Cure for Cancer) is cleverly adapted for a slightly different purpose.

Pelham did many Penguin covers for works by J.G. Ballard and was in close contact with the author in the process of creating them. Ballard actually named a character in “The Reptile Enclosure” after Pelham. After one meeting during which they had looked over Pelham’s mockups for a series of Ballard covers, Pelham scribbled some notes that were obviously based on Ballard’s comments, and they make for a resonant and Ballardian piece of poetry: “monumental / tombstones / airless thermonuclear landscape / horizons / a zone devoid of time.”

Pelham’s most famous cover was for Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, and fascinatingly enough, Pelham himself doesn’t think much of it:
 

When I was Art Director of Penguin Books I had to create this image in one night. We planned to bring out a film tie-in of Burgess’s wonderful book to coincide with the release of the movie, and we obviously urgently needed a strong cover image that related to the film. When Stanley Kubrick unaccountably refused to supply us with promotional press shots I immediately commissioned a well-known illustrator to help out. The result was not only unacceptable but it was also inexcusably late, so we were horribly out of time. Having already attended a press screening of Kubrick’s film I had a very clear image in my mind’s eye as to how the cover should look and so, collecting up a few supplies from the art department, I sped home to my Highgate flat to create the cover myself. I remember a motorcycle messenger arriving at 4.30am to deliver the ‘repro’—that is the typography—for the paste up. This of course was a long time before the age of computers, and everything was done with ink, glue and ‘repro’, which had to be painstakingly stuck in place on a base board. Another messenger arrived at 7am to whisk the artwork off to the printer. Consequently I had not had time to properly scrutinize the image, to make the small adjustments and refinements that I still believe it needed. So now, every time I see that image, all I see are the mistakes. But then, maybe it’s those unfinished rough edges that contribute to its appeal. Who knows?

 
In 1996 Eye Magazine wrote that Pelham’s covers “dignify the books with symbolic images that help to convey the conceptual sophistication of the writing inside.” For more of Pelham’s covers as well as many striking Penguin covers by other artists, check out the well-curated website Penguin Science Fiction.
 

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
 

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
 
Many more of Pelham’s spectacular sci-fi creations after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Hell on Earth: Behind the scenes of ‘Hellraiser’ and its sequels

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Author and director Clive Barker with Doug Bradley as the Cenobite nicknamed ‘Pinhead’.
 
Clive Barker didn’t know much about directing when he made his debut feature Hellraiser. He thought it best to clue-in on the subject. He decided to borrow a book on filmmaking from his local library. Unfortunately both copies were out on loan. Barker worried that his cinematic career was over before it had even started.

When he pitched the idea for the movie to Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, Barker avoided too much emphasis on his lack of experience. He presented a brief synopsis of his novel Hellbound Heart, a few storyboard sketches and some catchy taglines. It got him the gig.

Barker wanted direct movies because of the abortion made of his last screenplay Rawhead Rex in 1985. He didn’t want the same thing to happen to Hellbound Heart. He also hoped the film would be his calling card to Hollywood.

But he didn’t have a copy of Directing for Dummies or whatever it was called and New World were quibbling over the title Hellbound Heart. They said it sounded like a bad romance.

Thankfully, Barker’s cast and crew were professional and very patient. Together they helped him realize his dark and gory vision on screen.

The film was shot over ten weeks. It cost around a million dollars.

As for Hellbound Heart.—Barker gave his movie the working title Sadomasochists From Beyond The Grave. One female crew member suggested it should be called What A Woman Will Do For A Good Fuck. Hellraiser was chosen as the title—and a legendary franchise was born.

According to writer Neil Gaiman the infamous Cenobites—those dark, mutilated figures from another dimension—were loosely inspired by a group of likeminded writers (called the Peace and Love Corporation) who gathered one night in a rooming house during a party being held in the building. As Gaiman recounts in an introduction to Kim Newman‘s short stories:

The Peace and Love Corporation, which was never a corporation, although it was a bank account, and had not really to do with either Peace or Love, although I think on the whole we were pretty much in favour of both of them, formed, more or less, during a party. We weren’t at the party—it was being held in Kim [Newman}‘s Crouch End flat by his landlord. But we—Kim, Stefan Jaworzyn, Eugene Byrne and myself—were on sleeping bags in Kim’s room, listening to the party going on down the hall. Kim had the bed.

The party was long and loud and the partygoers (old hippies to a man) were playing old hippy music.

We started talking about hippies, lying in the darkness. And we began to rant about commune life and going to San Francisco and putting flour in our hair. It was a kind of free-form improvised stand-up routine, only we were lying on the floor.

The next day we wrote down what we could remember of the rant, added a plot of sorts, called it ‘Peace and Love and All That Stuff’ and sent it off to a magazine, and became the Peace and Love Corporation.

Clive Barker was fascinated by the Peace and Love Corporation. At one point he announced that he was going to write a story called ‘Threshold’, in which Kim, Stefan and I would be creatures from a far-future world beyond the boundaries of pleasure and pain, come to the here and now to hunt down a fugitive. When he finally wrote it it was called The Hellbound Heart, and was later filmed as Hellraiser. Which may mean that Kim Newman was the original inspiration for Pinhead. They are, after all, both snappy dressers.

A new film Hellraiser: Judgment will be released next year.
 
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More images of Hell on earth, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
It’s not over ‘til the Horselover Fat lady sings: Philip K. Dick’s ‘VALIS,’ the opera
08.09.2016
08:17 am

Topics:
Books
Music

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Tod Machover’s parents were a pianist and a computer scientist, so perhaps it’s not very surprising that when the doors of the MIT Media Lab first opened in 1985, Machover was hired as a Professor of Music and Media in charge of the Lab’s Hyperinstruments/Opera of the Future group. Among other accomplishments, Machover has invented a device called the “Conductor’s Glove” which permits the user to assert control over an entire music studio, somewhat in the manner of Tom Cruise in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report.

Oh, Minority Report—funny resonance, there. Minority Report, of course, was based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, the same author who was responsible for the basis of one of Machover’s best-known works, an opera adaptation of Dick’s 1980 masterpiece VALIS.

VALIS may be the work of Dick’s that is the most satisfying combination of Dick’s visionary ideas about technology and the fragile state of reality and his own life, which took a turn towards the messianic in 1974. That year Dick experienced a series of intense visions that were specifically sparked by an emanation of “pink light” glinting off of a Christian fish necklace worn by a woman delivering a package. (For more on Dick’s epiphanic episodes, check out R. Crumb’s comic “The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick” or, even better, Dick’s Exegesis.)

The core of VALIS is the “Vast Active Living Intelligence System” that is likely Dick’s best approximation of God, which features an Earth satellite that uses “pink laser beams” to transmit information to human beings on Earth and to forge links between humanity and an extraterrestrial species. Among other things, in Dick’s book, VALIS is the entity that enabled humanity to become aware of and take action against the Watergate break-ins executed by the Nixon administration.

As far as personal connections to the work go, Dick named the protagonist of VALIS Horselover Fat, which sounds bizarre but is actually a sneaky reworking of Dick’s own moniker. The name “Philip” means “lover of horses,” and “Dick” is the German word for “fat.”
 

A scene from the 1987 Pompidou Centre production of VALIS
 
In 1987 Tod Machover adapted VALIS as an electronic opera. It was first performed at the Centre Georges Pompidou, with live singers and video installations created by artist Catherine Ikam. Interestingly, you wouldn’t necessarily peg Dick as an opera lover but VALIS actually contains several extended discussions about Wagner’s Parsifal. The New York Times called Machover’s VALIS “the most famous achievement in operatic science fiction,” although one must concede that the competition for that title may not be very stiff.

Machover has spoken of the process of securing the rights to adapt VALIS, which was itself pretty interesting:
 

And it took me a while, but I finally got to Russell Galen who, as you probably know, is Philip K. Dick’s, was his agent and is now in charge of the literary estate. It was really hard to get an appointment and again they usually handle movie rights. I was sort of expecting him to say well, you know, for an opera I don’t know. Anyway, I went in and just said to him I think this is a fantastic book and I’m interested in writing an opera on VALIS and it’s going to sort of take this form, blah, blah, blah. And I totally expected him to say, well, it’s a nice idea but we’re not really interested. Instead he said well, you know you probably don’t know this but I wasn’t only Philip K. Dick’s executor and his agent but we were really close friends. And not only that when he was writing VALIS he was quite depressed a lot of the time and he use to call me about twice a day for a year and a half when he was working on it. And well I had to keep stopping working and I sort of talked to him every day while he was working on that book. Not only that VALIS at that point in ’82, ’83 wasn’t really all that popular, certainly not outside of fairly small Philip K. Dick circles. And he said you know a lot of people have mixed feelings about VALIS. But you know I agree with you, I think it’s his masterpiece and I’d love to see a treatment of it. And you probably don’t realize this, or you didn’t notice, but VALIS was dedicated to me.

 

After the jump, listen to Machover’s full opera of VALIS…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Brutally honest cartoons capture the harsh reality of the stripping life (NSFW)


 
The Beaver Show is a collection of raunchy, funny, and honest cartoons by Jacqueline Frances. It’s a memoir of sorts that focuses on one of the most sexualized workplaces a woman can have—the strip club. As “Jacq” says, her job is to dance, naked, “for large (and occasionally insultingly modest) sums of money.” As a result, many of her work relationships are measured in minutes, and her closest confidantes are the other women doing the stripping.
 

 
In addition to entertaining and amusing, the book is a kind of all-purpose introduction and “how-to” for the stripping life, it supplies an education for women who might want to become strippers, and it powerfully serves to correct the behavior of the male clients that pay Jacq’s rent. Here are some of the useful things you’ll learn about what it’s like to be a stripper if you read The Beaver Show:
 

When you interact with strippers, they’re working. That means their main concern is getting paid. So pay them.

You might be looking for some kind of personal connection at the strip club, but they probably aren’t.

A “hot” client is probably a bit of a jerk and probably smells awful. If you want to impress a stripper, take a shower.

You’re probably not the first to wonder how they ended up doing this, so don’t ask.

Believe it or not, strippers are people, and they dislike it when you objectify them.

 
The Beaver Show appears to be a self-published project; I have nothing but admiration for “Jacq the Stripper” (as she signs her strips) for her determination in bypassing the regular publishing gatekeepers and getting her cartoons out there, come what may.

This is a raw and honest depiction of an arena that is in many ways governed by lust and power and sometimes greed. It’s a decidedly female perspective, and it can’t be surprising that the male animal doesn’t come off looking very good.

You can buy the book on Amazon or at select bookstores in Montreal, New York, and Baltimore. The price of the book is $19.99, a.k.a. “the price of a lapdance,” as she puts it.

You can see more single-panel cartoons like these at her website.
 

 
Much more after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Doctor Who reimagined as Penguin Books

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Well this is nice. The world’s longest-running science-fiction series Doctor Who reimagined as retro Penguin books from the 1960s-1980s.

I do like Penguin books. They are the acme of paperback fiction. And while I may have an apartment already crammed wall to wall and floor to ceiling with way too many books, I know I could just about find enough space for a few of these.

The covers are designed by Sean Coleman at notebooks from Coleman Designs. A small selection of these vintage designs are available to buy as notebooks.

While there are literally dozens of real Doctor Who novelizations—some even published by Penguin—none are quite as stylish or as desirable as these beauties. Check out more Doctor Who book designs here.
 
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More classic Penguin-style designs, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Wunderkammer’: A new exhibition of Clive Barker’s weird and disturbing paintings

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‘Death’s Womb.’
 
A new exhibition of artwork by writer, artist and filmmaker Clive Barker opens at the Copro Gallery in Santa Monica this month.

Entitled Wunderkammer the show brings together Barker’s more recent oil paintings depicting the “unseen world of fantasy co-existing with our own reality.” Wunderkammer means “a place where a collection of curiosities and rarities is exhibited.”

Barker is of course best known for his superlative work as a writer and producer of fantasy-horror fiction and film. His novels include The Hellbound Heart, Weaveworld, Imajica, Abarat and The Scarlet Gospels.  While as producer or director he has made the movies Hellraiser, Nightbreed, Candyman and Lord of Illusion.

Barker divides his day between writing, filmmaking and painting. The painting he usually does in the evening around seven when he dons his “painting clothes” and goes into his studio. His artwork has been exhibited across the world and included in books and magazines.

Wunderkammer opens at the Copro on August 6th-27th. All of the paintings are for sale—details here.
 
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‘Demons of Night and Day.’
 
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‘3 Beasts Devouring Each Other.’
 
More of Clive Barker’s paintings after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘LET ME DIE IN DRAG!’: The sleazy pulp paperbacks of ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’ director Ed Wood
08.03.2016
09:07 am

Topics:
Art
Books
Movies
Pop Culture

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Ed Wood Jr.


 
During the 1960s, several years after he’d begun making himself infamous as one of the greatest terrible auteurs in the history of cinema, Edward D. Wood Jr. moonlit as the author of lurid pulp novels, many about gay men, which he wasn’t, and cross-dressers, which he rather famously was, with a fixation on angora so powerful it made its way into his film Glen or Glenda. (That last detail is actually Ed Wood 101 stuff, and if you haven’t seen the wonderful Tim Burton biopic about him, by all means, you should—the direction and performances are superb. If you’re more the bookish type, I’d suggest reading Nightmare of Ecstasy.)

Per SIN-A-RAMA, Feral House’s excellent survey of trashy sex novels (my DM colleague Chris Bickel told you all about it not long ago), Wood wrote not just under his own name, but under at least eight pseudonyms, and according to the outstanding 2011 exhibition catalog Ed Wood’s Sleaze Paperbacks, there were more than that—they list a few books as Wood’s that are credited to I shit you not Norman Bates.

This points to a big problem in identifying Wood’s work. Some pulp pseudonyms were shared by more than one author, and the possibility exists that some books attributed to Wood were falsely credited by unscrupulous vintage resellers seeking to increase their sale price. It seems odd that Wood used pseudonyms at all—he relished in being credited under his own name, and since many of his more scandalous pulps were published under his given name, it’s hard to imagine that the tamer stuff could serve as a blow to his reputation!

If you’d care to actually read this stuff, brace yourself for collector pricing—an asking price of $200 is on the low end for some of these. A few of them have been reprinted, though, and the collection Blood Splatters Quickly compiles short stories Wood wrote for adult magazines.
 

 

 
More of Ed Wood Jr.‘s pulp fiction, after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘The Incantations of Daniel Johnston’: From McDonald’s to MTV to mental institutions
08.01.2016
10:20 am

Topics:
Art
Books
Music

Tags:
Daniel Johnston


 
West Virginia writer Scott McClanahan (Crapalachia, Hill William) and Spanish illustrator Ricardo Cavolo (Tarot del Fuego) recently collaborated on a graphic novel about the singular singer and songwriter Daniel Johnston. The book is called The Incantations of Daniel Johnston and is available from Amazon and Two Dollar Radio.

Born in 1961, Johnston has been musically active since the late 1970s despite suffering from severe schizophrenia. His first two albums, recorded while was a student at Kent State University, were called Songs of Pain and More Songs of Pain. In 1990 he released an album called 1990 (recorded in 1988, of course) on Kramer’s Shimmy-Disc label.

In 1988, Daniel Johnston had a mental breakdown during a gig at Pier Platters, an independent record store in Hoboken, New Jersey. For two weeks Johnston was unaccounted for until his arrest at the Statue of Liberty after drawing hundreds of Christian fish on the stairs. An acknowledged hero of “outsider art,” Johnston’s music was famously championed by Kurt Cobain, who loved wearing his “Hi How Are You?” space alien T-shirt; a 2004 Gammon Records release called The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered featured covers of Johnston’s songs by renowned artists such as Tom Waits, Beck, TV on the Radio, Death Cab for Cutie, Mercury Rev and The Flaming Lips.
 
Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ gets vintage cover from pulp master Robert E. McGinnis


 
TV fans are already lamenting the impending resolution of Game of Thrones likely to arrive in 2018 with a shortened 8th season, and so the chase for a suitably addictive replacement has been underway for some time now. Right now the heir apparent to take over that hole in our hearts is, without question the Starz adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

For those wondering how you can get roughly 60 episodes of TV mega-narrative out of a brisk 465 pages (brisk next to George R.R. Martin’s projected five doorstops, anyway) will be relieved to hear that Gaiman will permit Starz to draw from the book’s companion novel Anansi Boys as well. Bryan Fuller, recently of Hannibal and Pushing Daisies, will be the showrunner for the series with writer Michael Green.

Yesterday Gaiman took to his blog to tell readers about a development of no small excitement for the writer. Gaiman explained that he was waxing wistful with his HarperCollins editor about the fantastic painted paperback covers of pulp novels from the mid-century era and wondered if HarperCollins might be willing to release a set of paperbacks with new covers in that style. The answer, he learned, is yes.

Gaiman has long admired the covers of Robert E. McGinnis, best known for the posters for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Diamonds Are Forever as well as the covers of literally hundreds of crime novels from the postwar years, but had supposed that anyone whose heyday was so long ago must surely be dead or at least retired. It turns out that his hero was not only alive (he recently turned 90) and is “pretty much” retired but not very long ago was still churning out terrific covers for the Hard Case Crime imprint.
 

 
McGinnis agreed to do the covers for the forthcoming HarperCollins series, and the first cover to see the light of day is for Gaiman’s American Gods, of which, due to the increased media attention due to news of the impending Starz series, the publishers currently have hardly any copies in stock to sell. Thus the need for a new edition, which will have the gorgeous new McGinnis cover seen below.

As Gaiman points out, there is a recent coffee table book celebrating the alluring cover artist under the title The Art of Robert E. McGinnis.
 

 

 
Lots more McGinnis art after the jump, including the new cover for ‘American Gods’

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Pulp fiction painter: The suggestive and sexy art of Paul Rader
07.25.2016
03:59 pm

Topics:
Art
Books

Tags:
Paul Rader
Midwood Books

 
Tall, Blonde and Evil
 
Pulp fiction cover art is sexy. The whole point of it is to entice you to pick up a random novel called Tall, Blonde and Evil that you probably would ignore unless there was a tall evil-looking blonde staring back at you suggestively. But where does this cover art come from? The man who nailed the look of desire is Paul Rader.

Ironically enough, there is another Paul Rader that was an early 20th century evangelist. But the Paul Rader I’m talking about was a Brooklyn-born artist who ended up in Detroit as a portrait painter. When he moved back to New York in the 1940s his art started to change. In 1957 he signed with Balcourt Art Service and began illustrating for men’s magazines and paperback book covers.
 
Sin on Wheels
 
One of the paperback companies he worked for was Midwood and his cover images made their books sexy volumes to have. Midwood Books was a publishing house only active from 1957 to 1962 and while their target audience was (obviously) men, the often pretty steamy drama of these books meant that they were also popular with women. Rader was able to capture the classic American pin-up dream girls (gone bad) for their covers.

Some of his art was more on the innocent side…..
 
Paul Rader Librarian
 
And some was more suggestive…
 
Her Private Hell
 
But all of the women he captured were stunning. And thank god for his art since the titles of these books were usually less than creative.
 
Girls Dormitory
 
Nude in a red chair
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Izzi Krombholz | Leave a comment
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