Friday, April 12, 2013


Title dedicated to Pauline Kael, natch.

All joking aside yesterday I had some pretty wild finds out in the wild, most of which are on display here ... 

I wanted to start with this one from Grandon Press, which I hadn't heard of before.  Another small publisher with a clear and strong devotion to Arkham House's output and style.  This gorgeous Russell Swanson cover (first time I've seen his name that I recall) absolutely captivated me, and I can't wait to find more of his work.

Above we have a pretty major Arkham House title that I wasn't sure I'd ever acquire.  It was their first-full color jacket, with typically sublime Hannes Bok artwork.  Below is a nice piece I've had for a while, finally displaying it here alongside the Hodgson book; both were released around the same time.

Below we have a Sprague /Pratt collaboration with another excellent cover by Bok.

Below is another striking jacket design from Gnome Press featuring some incredible Weird monsters by EMSH.  Luis Ortiz, who is worshipped as a Saint here at Capt. Graveyard for his seminal Lee Brown Coye biography, also penned a mind-boggling in-depth tome on the life and work of Ed "EMSH" Emshwiller.

The last selection for today is from a book of fiction by Les Daniels.  The wonderful art is by Frank Villano.  These ones are dedicated to Mr. Joseph Porter, a fantastic contemporary artist whose work is in a similar vein as Villano.

Les Daniels was another kindred spirit of Capt Graveyard, and was very helpful a few years back in allowing permission for a friend and I to reprint some art he controlled.  He's also one of the brave geniuses who commissioned art from Lee Brown Coye in the 1970s, alongside David Drake, Robert Weinberg, and Stuart David Schiff.  Les passed away no too long ago, and he's certainly missed.  When this book leaped out at from from the shelf, I must admit I teared up a bit ...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Just Miscellany ...

I'm really in the scanning zone lately, here's a few more gems ...

I was always captivated by the above cover, of course.  
And below, a fun, raw Arkham-style B.E.M. ...

Excellent Wildside Press reissue of a GREAT hyper-rare Pulp.  Here's a few artistic high-lights:

Looks like Bela to me ... then again every guy in a turban looks like Bela Lugosi to me.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Wallace Smith, Ben Hecht's FANTAZIUS MALLARE, 1922

Before penning the many screenplays he would become famous for; Kiss of Death, Spellbound, Notorious among them, Ben Hecht was a younger, perhaps angrier, man.  The images we see here today at Capt. Graveyard are from Ben Hecht's FANTAZIUS MALLARE and the breathtaking art is by Wallace Smith, who would also go on to write screenplays.  I've read that Smith was even arrested for the art (seized by the post office) not long after the book's release. 

Author Sanford Sternlicht once described Hecht's passion for destructing barriers as such "If Hecht was consistently opposed to anything, it was to censorship of literature, art, and film by either the government or self-appointed guardians of public morality."

The remarkable content of the book certainly seems in line with this, and for 1922 FANTAZIUS MALLARE is one of the most consciously incendiary pieces I've seen from that decade - a high compliment.


-Mike Hunchback

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Part exploration, part confession, part magic trick, all Exorcism.

Jesus "Jess" Franco
1930 - 2013

When I was 15 years old, I wanted to place an order for VHS dubs of some rare Exploitation films.  I had been reading Psychotronic for a while at that point, and what was once an unidentifiable urge had manifested itself in the realization that there was indeed a universe out there of bizarre cinema, the likes of which I had not yet known.  There were these mystifying ads in Psychotronic, packed densely with way-too-small text and emitting an air of actual and genuine sleaziness. 

I had seen “Evil Dead” and “Day of the Dead” about a billion times, I had made all of my friends suffer through whichever silent German Expressionist film I could get a tape of, but I still felt there was … something else out there.  Something sicker, something more.  The unsavory titles that crammed the ads full were particularly indicative of this “other world” of film.  I only knew of a director named Jess Franco through the elegant, dreamy Vampyros Lesbos and his less popular Count Dracula with Christopher Lee and Klaus Kinski, but these ads seemed to have literally dozens of different Franco films. 

Curiosity had reached its breaking point and I needed to order some of these tapes … “Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun” what the fuck was this stuff?

In any case, in 1995 when you wanted something mailorder, you needed a check.  I filled out a sheet of paper with the films I wanted, got a little cash together and before leaving for school one day I asked my father for a check in exchange for the cash,  so I could get some videos. 

My father had been supportive of film fandom in the past, but after I left for school that day he opened that letter to see exactly what kinds of films I was going to be ordering - needless to say, that letter never got sent and I was scolded pretty hard when I got home.  I guess the ads in Psychotronic seem somewhat unwholesome to the uninitiated.  The memory of my defense is still clear in my mind: “This movie is by a guy who directed a Dracula movie with Christopher Lee, how 'bad' could it be!?”

As the years went by and I got old enough to make my own pilgrimages to Kim’s in the city, I saw dozens of Franco films.  Then dozens more.  My adoration for him grew - this filmmaker could hit notes of artful composition, powerful sexuality, deep introspection, and bawdy humor in the span of a minute - yet these notes were merely by-products.  Clearly Franco was a rare man who was actually using filmmaking the way a Jazz musician improvises.  There’s a part of the infrastructure of a “song”, it has the melody sometimes, there’s echoes of a familiar riff, you hear the hook now and again, but these elements are just part of that big dizzying swirl of emotion being poured out from the soul through a horn.

Part exploration, part confession, part magic trick, all Exorcism.

The feelings that are involved in my absolute love for Franco’s work are not only hard to explain, but also somehow too personal to externally identify.

Today though, a part of my feelings for Franco’s work has made itself clear.  If Franco’s uncountable contributions had to be boiled down to one singular notion, if we're to name one lone factor for which his work is valuable, it would be this -

In a world where we’re told to walk the line or fail; in a world where we can literally lose our livelihood, our comfort, and even our lives if we don’t adhere to the status quo, we are given strict guidelines for what “success” is.  The acceptable parameters of “success” are dictated around us with no room to experiment, and in desperate confusion so many of us lose the ability to ignore these suffocating lines of distraction, the daily battering rams that drive us into bleak repetition.  So many of us are so mesmerized that those among us who shout out are the “crazy ones”.

The thing I realized this morning, the thing I realized just now, is that when faced with of all this, despite these enormous and complicated pressures to conform; Jesus Franco Manera simply chuckled, turned his back, and made another film.  And then another film.  And then another film …  With his incredible history of ups and downs, deaths of loved ones and soul mates, studios and producers, money and no money and NO money, Franco never saw the option to give in.  I’d have to guess that that idea never even occurred to him.  He had his own terms for “success”.   His success was not born of spite, desire for recognition, for fortune - it was never about anything besides making that next film.  Finding that new place on celluloid, no matter what other people would think or say. 

Though it goes against our deeply ingrained idea of “success”, I’d like to offer a personal opinion that I will hold dearly for the rest of my time here, and that is that there is no artist more successful than Jesus Franco Manera.  And even more gloriously, to emulate his success means to permanently enter the terrorizing, blissful, un-ending battle of being true to yourself.  No matter what, always.