The folks over at A Journey Round My Skull were so kind as to scan a 1923 copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination, illustrated by Harry Clarke. Clarke, an accomplished turn of the century stained glass artist and illustrator, relished anatomy and minutiae, obsessively rendering every refined cheekbone, elongated toe, hair follicle and fabric fold. I spent at least an hour poring over this Flickr set in wonderment, pausing to view each hyper-detailed image at high resolution.
Though Clarke was Aubrey Beardsley’s contemporary, and they share a fondness of stylization and monochrome, I think he surpasses mister B. not only with the amount of detail packed into his illustrations, but also with the darkness radiating from each plate. There is something inherently unhinged about these characters and a certain demonic unrest dances behind their thin, sallow faces, even in moments of outward tranquility. These haunted faces, fragile silhouettes, and rich patterns have earned Harry Clarke a spot among my top favorite illustrators of all time, right next to Von Bayros and, of course, uncle Vania. Hit the jump for a few more.