Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Weird Art of Matt Fox

      "There was a guy named Matt Fox who did the covers on Weird Tales in the late 40's, and I got obsessed with him, and I started drawing like that ..."

Simon Deitch
The Comics Journal interview, 2008

      I picked up a Weird Tales for a few bucks at a horror convention once because of the cover. I was quite taken by the art, an emaciated demon extending his hand downward to a stiff corpse; all set in a old rotting graveyard during the last moments of daylight. The drawing was credited to Matt Fox. For years afterward I wanted to know all about him, but any internet search would usually (at best) provide me with this limited information - he was a primary cover artist for Weird Tales, he did some horror and sci-fi comics in the 50's (shares a few books with Dave Berg actually) and that he worked for Marvel. I couldn't understand why he didn't have some huge following, for Fox succeeds at one of the most important aspects of horror art, that of managing to be scary and original without being corny. And his stuff is WEIRD too; gloriously weird.

      Bhob Stewart posted a mind-melting (for me) entry on his blog (potrzebie, linked to the right) not long ago on the very mysterious subject of the one and only Matt Fox. Please check it out, as it stands now it's the lengthiest bio on Fox that I've ever seen.

The above picture is from the back of a Whispers fanzine. Here's a couple excellent pulp covers he did at his peak, followed by an excellent precode horror comic cover he did where he swipes himself:

I added this image later when I finally got my hands on a copy of an issue of Castle of Frankenstein that had this incredible Matt Fox ad in it. Fox designed the ad and the posters themselves, please check out the brilliant Bhob Stewart's post on his aforementioned blog for the full scoop.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Oh, Lina ...

Lina Romay
June 23rd, 1954 - February, 15th 2012

I'm sorry for the informal, emotionally loose post - but the sudden passing of the incredible Lina Romay is weighing heavily on my mind. Lina began her career with Jess Franco in 1972 and was in most of his films (he would direct over 150 after '72) from that point on. They began a partnership professionally as well as romantically, and with Romay by his side Franco accelerated his artistic ambitions to a level that I personally believe no other filmmaker has achieved. To the most open-minded of viewers, many of his films have unique and lasting impact; and not for any repeatedly formulaic reason either. These films are anarchistic; at times purposefully and at times because there was simply no time or money. The disregard for convention is perhaps one of the strongest elements in most of his best work, and it took a little while for that to fully develop. By the late 60's Franco was itching for nothing but total freedom in filmmaking; and he casually tossed aside the possibility for success and money to embark of a lifelong journey of artistic exploration - and splendid debauchery. This wasn't the move of someone who wanted to make a name for himself as an "Auteur", or as an avant garde filmmaker; and nor was it the move of someone who would go on to make only pornography. Franco's most passionate work work lies in an area of its own, quite far from those other worlds. And as any dedicated fan of his work will tell you, this incredible achievement was aided immeasurably by Lina Romay. Her own visions were also unrestrained and wild, and her willingness to lose herself physically and mentally in these films is unmatched in cinema. Lina Romay was one of a kind. The suddenness of her passing makes it hard to comprehend, and we here at Freedom School send our love to Jess Franco and to the memory of one of the screen's brightest, sexiest, and special stars. Goodbye Lina.