Sunday 25 October 2015

A Halloween Plug: The Art of Horror

As well as manning the Little Shop, now and again I do a spot of freelance editorial work. A book I was Project Manager for has just been published in time for Halloween, and biased though I may be, it really is a stunner, and belongs on the coffee table of anyone remotely interested in its subject area. So if you'll forgive me, this is a shameless plug.

The Art of Horror is edited by Stephen Jones, and features a Foreword by Neil Gaiman, and over 500 images, from early engravings, via book and magazine covers, movie posters and paintings, to cutting-edge digital art, with contributions from a plethora of artists. 

It's organised into ten themed chapters, with written contributions from David J. Skal (on vampires), Jamie Russell (on zombies), Gregory William Mank (on Frankenstein's Creature and other man-made monsters), Kim Newman (on werewolves and shape-changers), Richard Dalby (on Ghosts), Barry Forshaw (on psychos), Lisa Morton (on Halloween horrors), S. T. Joshi (on Lovecraft), Bob Eggleton (on prehistoric monsters and other behemoths) and Robert Weinberg (on aliens). Alongside Stephen Jones' detailed captions, it all builds into a uniquely illustrated history of horror. It is, pun intended, bloody brilliant.

You can buy it at Amazon UK or US for a very decent discount, though of course you should patronise your local independent bookseller if you can. If you're quick, you can pre-order a copy HERE signed by Stephen Jones and a number of the contributors (including artist Dave McKean) from Forbidden Planet in London: the signing is on Halloween itself, Saturday October 30th.

Here's just two of the images from the book, the first being of Cumbria's very own legend, 'The Croglin Vampire'. I lobbied for it to be included in the vampires chapter, because it's a great painting by Les Edwards, but also because I live in Croglin!

The Croglin Vampire © Les Edwards

La Muerte Enamorada (Death in Love) © Chema Gil Ramirez

The contributor copies started going out a week or so ago, and for those of you who know who Basil Gogos is, you'll know how cool it was for him to pop up on Facebook proclaiming the book "may become the bible of Horror Art." In fearful imagery circles, this is like getting a blessing from the Pope.

MAY 2016 UPDATE: I'm delighted to say the book has won the Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association, for Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction. In horror publishing, this is the equivalent of winning an Oscar, so I'm very proud to have been involved!

Sunday 18 October 2015

A Dalek With Indigestion: The Doctor Who Story You've Never Seen!

With the good Doctor back on TV (he fought nasty aliens alongside Vikings last night), now's as good a time as any to post this oddity.

Back in their Christmas issue for 1964, the Radio Times included an 8 page supplement called 'Barbara in Wonderland', with a story by Rowan Ayres, and some specially shot photos. The Alice stand-in was Barbara Lord, a dancer from the BBC 2's hip and happening live music show The Beat Room (she later became better known as Babs in Pan's People). 'Wonderland' was the BBC Television Centre in London, then only a few years old, and certainly an exciting place full of wonders as far as the readers of the Radio Times were concerned.

The full story is below, thanks to the Radio Times archive website, but it's one encounter that's of interest here...

"Never be a slave to time. And never waste it, either." That's rather good. I can imagine Peter Capaldi saying that. Anyway, William Hartnell and a couple of Daleks were corralled for a photoshoot: one of the rarer colour photos of the First Doctor in action...

... and here's the whole thing. You should be able to grab and zoom in enough to read the scans...

Saturday 3 October 2015

Bruce Robinson Has Finally Unmasked Jack the Ripper!

"It is either one of the most arcane conspiracy theories in British criminal history, or it’s the truth. By the time you’ve turned the last page, Robinson leaves you in no doubt that it’s the latter."
The Telegraph

"If he’s right, it’s the biggest cover-up in British history. If he’s wrong – well, it’s still a bloody good read."
The Guardian

After at least fifteen years of research and writing Withnail and I creator Bruce Robinson's magnum opus They All Love Jack: Busting the Ripper is nearly upon us, and the media campaign has begun.

As revealed on this blog many months ago, Robinson's culprit is the singer/songwriter Stephen Adams, aka Michael Maybrick, pictured above. You can bring yourself up to speed reading the previous blog posts about Robinson's adventures in Ripperland HERE and HERE.

Bruce was interviewed at his house by reporter Nicola Stanbridge on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning (at about 8.20, if you want to find it on the iPlayer listen again), and there's a huge article about the book and its author in today's Telegraph, which you can read HERE.

Meanwhile the first review is in, from the Grauniad, which concludes: "If he’s right, it’s the biggest cover-up in British history. If he’s wrong – well, it’s still a bloody good read." You can read the full review HERE.

Robinson is making several appearances over the next few weeks to talk about the book. Click below for more details of:

An event in London in conversation with Will Self

An appearance at the Cheltenham Literary Festival

An appearance in Leeds, coupled with a screening of a certain film, which he will introduce...

Finally, you can buy the book here, but of course you should be ordering it from your local independent bookshop.

Another stop on Robinson's book tour, this time in Bath.

A review of the book by Craig Brown, who doesn't like it. But it's in the Daily Mail, so what do you expect?

A long Sunday Times feature/interview (though it's behind a paywall).

A Wall Street Journal article.

A long article in GQ.