Monday, September 14, 2009

the Weird Art of LEE BROWN COYE Part 6

Robert Bloch's classic "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper"

I haven't even come close to posting all of the LBC art that I'd like to, and getting the excellent fiction collection "Dying of Fright" edited by Les Daniels made this post inevitable. "Dying of Fright" is a top notch collection in the style of the Derleth edited collections like "Sleep No More" (see earlier FSR post) and "Night Side". Amazingly enough, Daniels had the notion to also employ Lee Brown Coye for the illustrations and another classic tome of the macabre was born.

Anthony Boucher's "They Bite"

The drawings are all circa 1975, a period of Coye's work that fascinates me deeply. Earlier unpublished art hinted that Coye was experimenting in style, some of which was far too morbid and dark to reveal to anyone interested in his commercial art. LBC was however an artist in the true sense of the word, and his gift was slanted toward the morbid. His full ability in this field was not tapped until the 70's, hence the unreal quality of this collection. Nearing the end of his life, Coye had lived through the sixties and into the seventies. Taboo had a different meaning and what was previously perceived as disgusting or too disturbing became more acceptable for horrific imagery. He was also allowed freedom to create art that he wanted, without boundaries, by people who were also impassioned by the darker elements. People like Les Daniels, Stuart David Schiff, Arkham House, and Carcosa Books. It's that combination that really let Coye's imagination run wild, and with art like this (especially the first image here) I feel Coye was making his masterpieces. These pieces have a fiercely original sense of composition, lyrical in their arrangement, with dizzying and cryptic implications. I hope you all like them as much as I do!

Edgar Allan Poe's "Masque of the Read Death"
An excellent interpretation, I can't recall from memory any other LBC art for Poe tales.

Washington Irving's "The Adventure of the German Student"
A superb tale of the macabre from the American literary legend, rumored to have romanced none other than Mary Shelley. It seems that all counts point to Shelley having an infatuation with Irving, but Irving not acting on it out of respect for a friend who was enamored by her, or possibly because of feeling he still had for his deceased wife. A highly recommended short story, the descriptions of the dark beauty within it are bewitching without compare -
"When the lights were brought, Wolfgang had a better opportunity of contemplating the stranger, he was more than ever intoxicated by her beauty. Her face was pale, but of a dazzling fairness, set off by a profusion of raven hair that hung clustering about it. Her eyes were large and brilliant with a singular expression approaching almost to wildness. As far as her black dress permitted her shape to be seen, it was of perfect symmetry. Her whole appearance was highly striking, though she was dressed in the simplest style." ... Yowza!

Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Ethan Brand"

J. Sheridan Le Fanu's "Squire Toby's Will"

F. Marion Crawford's "the Upper Berth"

M.R. James' "Lost Hearts"

Arthur Machen's "History of the Young Man With Spectacles"

Robert W. Chambers' "the Yellow Sign"

H.G. Wells' "the Red Room"

Ambrose Bierce's "Oil of Dog"

Algernon Blackwood's "the Willows"

William Hope Hodgson's "the Voice in the Night"

W.F. Harvey's "August Heat"

Lord Dunsany's "the Exiles Club"
Another stunningly composed work of complete terror on par with the first piece in this post.
This is Coye's highest quality level of art, for these images evoke the insanity of perceiving other worlds, dimensions haunted by things we can't understand. The tone that these works evoke is equal to the tone evoked in the best of Lovecraft's and Poe's writings. Horror where the audience not only believes that the author is a victim of the subject of his work, but also where the audience actually fears that they too could fall victim; and such insanity would become their reality.

H.P. Lovecraft's "Call of Cthulhu"
Having drawn many illustrations for Lovecraft tales, LBC chose an interesting interpretation for this classic. Those familiar with "the Call of Cthulhu" (which is easily one of the finest horror stories ever written and a masterpiece of Weird Fiction) will recognize that Coye has drawn the bas-relief featured in the story!

Frank Belknap Long's "A Visitor from Egypt"
A close personal friend of Lovecraft's, Long has a respected reputation of his own among Weird Fiction fans. It is of note however that the reclusive Lovecraft actually spent a lot of time with Long in person, whereas many of his other friends only ever knew Lovecraft through letters.

Henry Kuttner's "the Graveyard Rats"
An absolute Weird Tales classic. Kuttner was only a teen when he wrote "the Graveyard Rats" and I'm not sure I could name a terror tale more intense - seriously. Such physical horror is injected into the reader that I doubt any of you could read this one without shaking, or even becoming dizzy! Coye's cluster of sinister rodents is perfect, and even further ensures the reader's hypnotic fright. Kuttner married fellow Weird Tales author C.L. Moore, whom I love. Her story "Shambleau" is a sensual masterwork of Science Fiction, and comes with highest recommendation.

John Collier's "Rope Enough"

Ray Bradbury's "Homecoming"
One of the most known and respected American authors of all time, Ray Bradbury got his start with Weird Tales. Arkham House even published his first book! Bradbury to this day champions passionate, free thinking art, especially in the realms of Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror. He's a hero to us over here at Freedom School Records; he has based his entire life and career on fierce individuality and on not letting the judgment of others (especially authority) affect one's actions and art.

Carter Dickson's "the House in Goblin Wood"
Another masterful house exterior by LBC, whose sense of the cold, dilapidated landscapes and abandoned homes of upstate New York is unmatched. Even with an arguably less sensational subject Coye achieves the impression of visions that are somehow tainted with a view from another world hidden beneath our own.

Fritz Leiber's "the Man Who Never Grew Young"

Richard Matheson's "Born of Man and Woman"
Another favorite author of the Freedom School Records gang, most notably for his novel "I Am Legend"; a study of unbelievably real humanity in a world of total horror. As if that weren't enough, Matheson also wrote incredible episodes of the Twilight Zone and Star Trek (TOS) and was one of the most frequent screenwriters of the incredible Corman / Poe AIP pictures; some of which are "the Pit and the Pendulum", "The Raven", "Tales of Terror", as well as many more. All of these are worth seeking out, frequent stars include none other than Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. Also, Matheson's script for "The Incredible Shrinking Man" (from his book) is among his finest works. Like all the best Matheson writing, the film concentrates on naked human emotion in a fantastic situation, and with a theme as campy as a shrinking man fighting to survive in an average American home it was almost as if Matheson was challenging his own ability to enthrall the viewer beyond the normal feelings attributed to horror and science fiction. He succeeds beyond highest expectation, and most of all in the unreal, tear-inducing ending. The final monologue is a classic piece of writing in it's own right.

Joseph Payne Brennan's "Levitation"

I'd just like to note the credibility of editor Les Daniels. If you're interested in the Weird and are looking for your Strange Gateway to Other Dimensions, seek out a copy of "Dying of Fright". Printed in 1976 by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York the book seems to have been carried by many libraries at the time and used copies don't sell for the high prices many of the Arkham House and related titles usually go for.

To quote my friends over at Fancy Mag - "READ or ROT!"

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Bury me in books.

Here's a hodgepodge of beautiful book covers; selected solely for their visual merit. There's certainly no real pattern here, the years and genres jump all over the place; SF, Adult, Horror - it doesn't matter as long as it looks great. Some of the covers are by famous artists (note the Virgil Finlay art), and some are by complete unknowns. I've wanted to post some of these for quite a while, click to enlarge.

Beaumont, whom you know as the third writer for the original 'Twilight Zone" (along with Richard Matheson and Rod Serling, natch), did several books of varied types.