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Category Archives: Illustrators

Sidney Paget — Not a One-Trick Pony

Since I was a child I have always admired the illustrations by Sidney Paget of The Sherlock Holmes stories, all 356. There is a 357th and it is unpublished. Over the past several years, I have learned that “SP” illustrated many serials in other magazine and books. As far as I know there is no definitive listing of these available.

I am in the process of publishing The Puritan’s Wife by Max Pemberton and The Sanctuary Club by L.T. Meade and Robert Eustace and I append an illustration from each of these for your viewing pleasure.

I have already published the Martin Hewitt stories by Arthur Morrison.

I invite the read to submit other books and magazine serials illustrated by SP, S Paget and rarely Sidney Paget.

Bride-29

 

Jack Koblas Has Two New Titles

I first met John “Jack” Koblas in the Tripp Museum in Prairie du Sac two years ago now. We were both visiting a display of Jim Kirchstein’s hand puppets and marionettes all created by Ken Vogel on the weekend in October celebrating The Walden West Festival by The August Derleth Society. The following year Jack was the Guest Speaker at Walden West Festival. We sat together and discussed books at the Sunday evening dinner at Green Acres after the Walden West weekend.

In the month that followed Jack assembled an impressive list of titles for publication:

1. Ghost Stories and Other Dark Tales. This collection of stories is illustrated by John Stevens, and John also designed the cover. Many of these stories were written many years ago now, and a couple of them were rejected for publication by August Derleth when Jack submitted them for consideration when he was a teenager.

2. The Lovecraft Circle and Others as I Knew Them This is non-fiction book, and includes Jack memories of many of the admirers of H.P. Lovecraft. Two of the high points are Mary Elizabeth Counselman and Donald Wandrei.

3. Abe Lincoln’s Graveyard Ghouls. This is the history of what happened to the body of the President after his assassination at the end of the Civil War. Lincoln’s body was disinterred twice and finally came to rest in Illinois in 1905.

4. The Portage Experiment. this is the History of Zona Gale, Margery Latimer, Jean Toomer and Gurdjieff movement in Portage Wisconsin in the 1930s. It is a bizarre one including standing in trees without cloths, and communal and group sex, and master Gurdjieff doing short arm inspections on the men, before festivities began, presumably to avoid the spread of Venereal Disease.

5. The Invasions of America (1941-1945). This recounts the various and frequent invasions of both The United States of America and Canada by air and by sea during and before the commencement of WWII.

6. Jesse James and Jack Chinn: A Shadow over Northfield. This is Jack’s controversial thesis that Chinn had a serious hand in the robbery at Northfield Minnesota.

* * * * * * *

Jack Koblas is one of the most dynamic, interesting and prolific writers you’ll find in print today. Many of his readers are aware that when it comes to the outlaw genre, Jack is the foremost authority on the James-Younger Gang’s exploits in Minnesota. With over 70 books to his credit, his name is recognized in many fields—Western nonfiction as well as fiction, with other titles on Ma Barker and the gangster era, the U. S.-Dakota War, American Civil War, literary figures, politicians, nature, poetry, and many more.

Others know him through his work as a consultant and script writer for various television documentaries including Discovery Channel, History Channel, PBS American Experience, as well as independent film companies. One of his own books, Jesse James Northfield Raid: Confessions of the Ninth Man, was made into a documentary film.

Still others hail him for his musical skills as founder of The Magpies— one of the first doo wop groups to bring rock music to the Twin Cities in the 1950s. His vocals and keyboards are still heard today on many oldies recordings, and in 2007, he and The Magpies were inducted into the Minnesota Rock & Country Hall of Fame.
But how many people remember his works in the horror/fantasy field when he cofounded Etchings & Odysseys and learned to write from authors such as Donald Wandrei, Carl Jacobi, and Charles DeVet? Here are 47 horror stories penned by Jack Koblas, some of which we hope may jog your memory. May we have the lights, please?

* * * * * * *

John Stevens graduated from Daytona State College with a Graphic Arts and Advertising Design degree. His career in illustration blossomed as he won a prestigious award from L. Ron Hubbard Illustrators Of The Future contest, an international competition for science fiction illustrators. His professional talent came to the attention of Dell Magazine where he illustrated stories for Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Analog Science Fiction and Fact Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and many others. This talented artist’s work has been noted in Bride Publication, North Star Press and National Examiner as well as in several books.

John Stevens has worked with companies such as Ladies Professional Golf Association, Wacky World Studios, International Speedway Corporation Publications, Hot Action Sportswear, Jiloty Communications Incorporated advertising agency and many others. He has produced illustration for Art Against Aids, a non-profit organization established to raise funds for children living with aids. John also took time to teach portrait drawing for ArtQuest School Of Art & Design of Florida.

John Stevens’ work adorns the collections of Florida’s U.S. Senator Bob Graham, Louise M. Kleba (Systems Engineer at McDonnell Douglas Aerospace), Lee Aperson (Mr America), Debbie Kruck (MS Fitness USA), Kim Hartt of the Nevada Hot Dice RollerJam TV series, Barbara Leigh (actress) and many others.
To see more of John Stevens art visit his website at http://www.imagesofwonder.com and http://www.johnstevensart.com

* * * * * * *

During one of our late night talk session, Donald Wandrei told me he sold his first story, “The Red Brain,” to Weird Tales magazine in 1927. Although it was rejected the first time by Farnsworth Wright, the editor of Weird Tales, fellow pulp author H. P. Lovecraft had advised the younger writer to wait five or six months and submit it again. HPL added Wright’s memory was poor, probably from the Parkinson’s that plagued him, and a second submission would probably do the trick. Wright apparently did not remember the initial attempt, and upon reading this submission was so impressed, he published the story.

“Tomorrow, Tao Fa [E. Hoffmann Price] hits town,” Mary Elizabeth Counselman wrote me 40 years ago. Ed Price made several what he called “safaris,” to visit fellow pulp authors all over the U. S. and I was always lucky to be included by visits from both these masters of the macabre. MEC (Miss Counselman) continued her epistle: “I’m following his progress from New Orleans by sound—women screaming, or squealing as the case may be: men yelling and cursing and firing shotguns… Will let you know about his visit, unless my husband gets him first!”

I was fortunate to have known so many of the “pulpsters” and each through unusual channels: Robert Bloch because Wandrei called him every week and made me play “Rhapsody in Blue” on the piano for him; Carl Jacobi whom I first met while tricks or treating at his house on a long ago Halloween night; August Derleth because he rejected my story and called it “the worst story I’ve ever read (I was 15);” and Charles DeVet because Andy Decker and I found a geographical error in one of his novels. And most of the pulpsters followed because of similar reasons over a long period of time.

Come share these memories with me. The subjects are some of the finest people I’ve ever met.—Jack Koblas

* * * * * * *

“Anyway here it is. As I told [Jack Koblas] over the phone I got a laugh out of THE CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WEIRD and thought it nicely written to boot.” —Carl Jacobi

* * * * *

“When it comes to twentieth-century pulp writers, especially those connected with H. P. Lovecraft, Jack (“Count”) Koblas has “been there and done that.” From an alligator chase in the environs of R. H. Barlow’s erstwhile Florida home to the sighting of an albino squirrel in Don Wandrei’s backyard, Jack tells all in The Lovecraft Circle. His accounts of writers like Bloch, Counselman, Wandrei, Brackett and many others range from the informative, to the moving, to the simply amazing. No one interested in twentieth-century pulp fiction, and the Lovecraft Circle in particular, will want to be without Jack’s book.”
— Ken Faig, Jr., editor, The Fossil

* * * * *

“John Koblas’s hallmark has always been exhaustive research. Koblas is a bulldog of a researcher.” —Dave Wood, former books editor, Minneapolis Star Tribune;
former vice president, National Books Critics Circle

* * * * *

John “Jack” Koblas has met the Great Old Ones and survived to tell the tale. Fortunately, these Antient Beings were authors and artists associated with the luridly enjoyable pulp magazines. Here are reminiscences and research to fill many a dark and stormy night for casual or dedicated fan. I was present during some of the meetings described in this entertaining volume and can only regret that my misspent life did not include more of these fascinating discussions.
Scott F. Wyatt
Northern Representative Fedogan & Bremer (Publishers)

* * * * *

The “Old Ones” of fantasy stories and of the Lovecraft Circle inspired the ghostly path for these haunting tales, a feat that would surely please them all. The circles under my eyes and my night light blazing are proof of Koblas’s awesome skill in keeping you up all night. Compelling, gripping and most of all fun, don’t miss this interesting journey.
— Kay Price, Sauk City, Wisconsin

* * * * *

Jack Koblas was my point of entry into the literary world of Donald Wandrei and Carl Jacobi. I’m certain that both old masters would be proud to see their young acolyte following so successfully in their foot-steps. — Dwayne Olson, Minneapolis, Minnesota

 

Bookmarks for 2011

I borrowed a couple of books from Robert Weinberg of Virgil Findlay’s illustations. I thought there would be something there to create new bookmarks — perhaps 4 per year? — and I was not disappointed. I plan to use them as premiums for book purchases from The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, and they will have a limited run changing every year.

In the process, I had the idea to share the two volumes with my friend John Robert Colombo, because he was in the process of republishing a volume of Supernatural Stories by Canadian authors titled “Not to be Taken at Night.” which will appear later this year. JRC found a number of suitable illustrations for the cover, and the one we decided on “The NIght Road.” Now this story was originally drawn to illustrate the story by August Derleth which appeared in the Weird Tales, May 1952. The story was subsequently collected in Dwellers in Darkness (1976, Arkham House) and again in Volume 2 of The Macabre Quarto in 2009. the the illustration was not included; in hind sight it would have been a good idea to collect all the original magazine illustrations fromt he magazine appearances for the stories in the Macabre Quarto; hind sight is always clearer than foresight! I also selected a striking image for the back cover titled “Other Worlds.”

On the facing page of the Virgil Fndlay volume was another illustration for “Sexton, Sexton, On the Wall” a story by August Derleth which appeared in Weird Tales, January 1953. this story subsequently appeared in Lonesone Places (1966, Akrham House) without an illustration.

Now I pose the quetion — How many other times did Virgil Finlay illustrate the work of August Derleth, and I will leave the answer to the readers of this post, and invite dialogue. I know VF illustrated “Roads” but although that was an Arkham House publication in 1948, it was written by Seabury Quinn.

I attach all three illustrations by VIrgil FInlay, as additiional eye candy for the reader.

 

A Christmas Card from Frank Utpatel

to August Derleth -- from Marion and Frank Utpatel

August Derleth sent and received many Christmas cards during his career as a writing, publisher and family man. Christmas cards have become almost an anachromism in today’s world of e-mail, cell phones, and camera phones; somehow they are old fashioned, and expensive with postage charges, and international rates. I called overseas today with a flat rate of 2 cents per minute. A Christmas card would cost a minumum of $1.07 with HST! whereas with a telephone you get immediate feedback, with the give and take of social interaction. Here’s a scan of a card that the Utpatel’s sent to August Derleth in the 1940’s.

 

Baker Street Irregular ARC

The advanced reading copy (ARC) of Baker Street Irregular by Jon Lellenberg is going to press today. Attached is the cover layout which features cover art by Laurie Fraser Manifold. The graphic design by Pat Visneskie of Volumes Publishing in Kitchener Ontario. The publication date is November 2010, and the edition itself will be produced by the Maple Press in York, PA. This is the first Arkham House Publication since 2006, and this is a book published under the M&M imprint.

Woody Hazelbaker in love and war

 

The Garden of Eden — Auggie and Eve

August Derleth’s  scrapbook contains many different interesting items, including some woodcuts by Frank Utpatel that I have not seen before. There are two of particular note which I have entitled “The Garden of Eden” and “Auggie and Eve.” I suspect the originals were produced in the 1940s when Frank was at his best. I have censored the latter not so much because it has a single pornographic overtone, but rather to stump the pirates on the internet from appropriateing it the whole and reusing it. These illustrations would make good content for the dustjacket of Annals of Walden West. This volume is long overdue, and August was working on it, at the time of his death. Peter Ruber started to assemble short pirces for the volume in the 1990’s. I received the manuscript directly from April, in 2002, and showed it at the Walden West Festival that year, misplaced it at the Freethinker’s Hall and retrieved it once again in 2004.

 

“Under the Darkling Sky”

Only the serious Holmes aficianodo will recognize this as a short quote from The Hound of the Baskervilles. In Florida, I made the final editorial changes to the manuscript, and finished the compilation of the index, and sent the print out to the author John Weber of Syracuse for his final perusal. This book is fully titled: Under the Darkling Sky: A Chrono-Geographic Odyssey through the Holmesian Canon. It should be ready for a conference in August in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The two pictures attached are Sunset on Dartmoor and the author at the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. In passing, a trip to the Reichenbach Falls is the Sherlockian equivalent of a trip to Mecca — strange but true!

 

High Water Marks in Canonical Illustrations

If you are not an afficiando of Sherlock Holmes stop reading this blog entry right now! If you are and you have a shelf of books allegedly penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle you will already know of Sidney Paget. But did you know that his brother Walter illustrated one of the stories. You will know of the work of Frederic Dorr Steele who created his Sherlock as a William Gillette look-alive and all these originals — if they survived the sands of time — are highly prized by their owners, and sell for very high prices at auction. There is no point in illustrating them again here, the majority are well known to us all. A definitive study of the engraver’s signatures is yet to be done, and this is a project that Richard Lancelyn Green and I discussed back in 2001; perhaps his notes still reside in a file in the Portsmouth Library archives?

Another complete set of 64  illustrations (2 for each of the 4 novels) was created by George and Betty Wells. The originals were numbered and given out as quiz prizes at meetings. I used the set to illustrate the pages of The Universal Sherlock Holmes back in 1994, and have seen a couple, not many in collections in the interim. I have seen a couple of sale by dealers, and the originals are very collectiable as well. In fact, if the truth be told, Sherlockians collect everything as the 24, 807 entries in USH will tell you. ZHere’s a couple to wet your appetite.

 

Escaping the black dog of February

This week has been hectic for me — a trip to the printer to pick up books for a book launch next month and delivering them to Toronto safely. I also visited John Robert Colombo to show him a new cover featuring an ourburos (linked serpent) for a volume Tearsof Our Lady and this serpent will be delicately tattooed on the left ankle of a certain International Woman of Mystery, a character created by Sax Rohmer 60 years ago named Sumuru. Now the first volume in the series used macrons over the first and third U in her name thus — Sūmurū. Now I can find this character in my wordprocessor, but I can’t find this special character here in this blog. I suspect I can find it in HTML code, and I will look before publishing this, but TMI (too much information, but I found it!). But in any case an editorial decision was made to remove the macrons altogether throughout. The next task was to discuss the proposed Dustjacket for The Sumuru Omnibus with the artist Laurie Fraser Manifold and  I did that earlier today. Will share the result when it is in hand.

I am also spending too much time at the keyboard — I suspect this is a common affliction of bloggers, and I then remembered that this was February — a month of melancholy for a number of people who live in the snowbelt, a month of cabin fever if there is too much inclement weather, and a month to contemplate driving south in March to Florida.

And so how to break the tedium of typing, the mind numbing scanning if you don’t have an automatic feeder and  the proof reading to expunge those “m” for “in” errors that always tend to creep into the finished document? Well I decided to design a bookplate for myself. I selected a photo of Eugenia Falls in winter. This is a landmark very close to my home, and also the site of a false Gold-Rush over 150 years ago. and I post the result here as well.

The two images send my black dog of winter running away across the snowswept, frozen lake, and the candles flicker in the hearth.

 

Leacock at the Bat

I just received my invitation in the mail to the annual Stephen Leacock Medal Awards Dinner. It is scheduled for June the 12th in Orillia at Geneva Park, and promises to be a worthwhile event. Over the past number of dinners I have prepared pamphlets with content which may be of interest to Leacock Fans, and distributed to each attendee at their place setting for dinner.

   There are presently four in the series: Two Elegies (2005); Random Rhymes (2006); The Shannon and the Chesapeake (2007); and A Scandal in Montreal (2008).

   I took 2009 off as I was simply too busy being retired to prepare one. I had planned to do one discussing the poem “Casey at the Bat.”  Now I’m glad I didn’t get around to it, because I now have new cover art by Charles Pachter.

   Carl Spadoni mentions in his Bibliography of Leacock, that he found an unattributed newspaper clipping from Montreal relating that Leacock had regailed the audience at a dinner speech with his own personalized version of “Casey at the Bat.” It was unclear from the article whether Leacock had recited E.L. Thayer’s version of the poem, or personalized it for Mariposa.

If you google “Casey at the Bat” you find and audio version with De Wolf Hopper reciting the poem, as he did 1,000’s of times in his acting career. I would speculate that Leacock undoubtedly heard Hopper recite the poem, and was inspired to do it himself.

Leacock was not known to play baseball, but he did pay Cricket, both in school and as a young adult.

Shortly after I retired I received a letter from Martin Gardner, of Annotated Alice fame, in which he congratulated me for the publication of The Complete Annotated Father Brown. I called him to discuss the project and compare notes, and he was also interested about republishing a number of his out of print books. One of these was a fourth edition of his The Annotated Casey at the Bat.

It seemed like a natural next step then for me to work on a Mariposa version of “Casey at the Bat” titled “Leacock at the Bat.”

Next, I was working with Charles Pachter, a Toronto pop culture artist, essentially Canada’s Andy Warhol to develop an image of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson, and this project is still very mcuh a work in progress. But in any case during the preliminary conversation, Charles mentioned that he had a cottage studio on Lake Simcoe located  a 20 minute drive from Orillia. I invited him to do an image of Leacock at the bat, but not baseball, but rather cricket, and I attach his creation for your consideration.

During the same visit, I also spotted two other Pachter images in the studio, and obtained permssion to use them as well. The one is for Raymond Souster’s next collection of poetry entitled Big Smoke Blues. The image itself is entitled “Tour de Force.” and it is neat image of a Moose on a tightrope in the shadow of Toronto’s CN Tower. The other is entitled “Bon Echo.” and it is illustrated elsewhere in this blog as the cover for Walt Whitman’s Canada.

So that’s the background, and now, all is left to me to redraft Thayer’s poem change Casey to Leacock, change the other characters to the Mariposa Rogues’ Gallery, and of course change the sport from Baseball to Cricket.

I also plan to include the revised version of Thayer’s poem as well as Martin Gardner’s introduction and footnotes in the pamphlet as well.

As far as 2011 Dinner goes, that’s already allocated — “The Innocence of Stephen Leacock” in which Stephen Leacock meets Father Brown, a pastiche by John Peterson.

A mysterious phenomenon, toward which Professional critics are usually oblivious, recurs constantly in the literary history of the United States. A man or woman, with no special talent for poetry, will put together some apparently run-of-the-mill stanzas and manage to get them printed in a newspaper or magazine. The poem is read and talked about. It is reprinted here and there. People cut it out to carry in a billfold, or pin on a bulletin board, or put under the glass top of a desk, or frame and hang on a wall. Thousands memorize it. Eventually it becomes so well known that it is hard to find a literate person who hasn’t read it. (Martin Gardner in his intrroduction to The Annotated Casey at the Bat)

  Just to recall to your memory I include E.L. Thayer’s originally published version of the poem here:

Casey at the Bat

A Ballad of the Republic, Sung in the Year 1888

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows3 did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;4
They thought if only Casey5 could but get a whack at that—
We’d put up even money now with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn6 preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,7
And the former was a lulu8 and the latter was a cake;9
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;10
And when the dust had lifted, and the men11 saw what had occurred,
There was Johnnie12 safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ‘twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher13 ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.14

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one,” the umpire15 said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.16
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted some one on the stand;
And it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.17

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville18—mighty Casey has struck out.