Stimulating Juxtapostions: The Art of John Coulthart

Yog-Sothoth, from The Haunter of the Dark

Discerning seekers of rare or obscure artists will eventually stumble upon John Coulthart’s Feuilleton at some point in their virtual journeys. An artist himself, and a blogger “of some repute”, his site is a veritable Holy Grail treasure collection of luminous paintings, ornate illustrations & woodcuts, and salty vintage photographs that run the gamut from fin de siecle European art magazines to antique occult bookplates to queer themed eye candy from a bygone era for which to titillate our salacious modern sensibilities. One with an interest in such things could literally lose hours perusing his archives. It is with the striking of a dazed and dreamy midnight hour, head filled with inspiration and amazing discoveries, that one realizes where the time has gone.

John is perhaps best known for his own striking and complex “genre-defying” artistry; working with various styles and media in his singular, chimeric aesthetic, he is a successful graphic designer for a variety of mediums including album covers, book covers comic books and graphic novels.

“As a comic artist John produced the Lord Horror series Reverbstorm with David Britton for Savoy Books, and received the dubious accolade of having an earlier Savoy title, Hard Core Horror 5, declared obscene in a British court of law. … His collection of HP Lovecraft adaptations and illustrations, The Haunter of the Dark and Other Grotesque Visions, was republished in 2006 by Creation Oneiros.

As a book designer and illustrator John continues to work for Savoy Books, and in 2003 designed the acclaimed Thackery T Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases edited by Jeff VanderMeer and Mark Roberts.

John’s work has been showcased via Rapid Eye, Critical Vision, Clive Barker’s A-Z of Horror, EsoTerra, and the Channel 4 television series Banned in the UK.”

See below the cut for a Q&A in which John discusses fleeting fascinations, enduring enthusiasms, how the mystical and macabre manifests itself in his projects, and the mercurial nature of design.

Martin Millar’s Lycanthropian Soap Operas

Curse of the Wolf Girl, by Martin Millar / cover art by John Coulthart

“In London, Kalix is on her way to remedial college to try and improve her reading skills, Vex is going too, and Daniel is still pining over Moonglow. Yum Yum Sugary Snacks are refusing to rehearse, Dominil is getting annoyed and Decembrius is wondering what to do with himself. In Scotland, Markus, now thane of the Werewolf Clan, is wondering if he should tell his girlfriend about his habit of cross-dressing. Malveria, Queen of the Fire Elementals, and Thrix, Werewolf Enchantress, have some important fashion engagements coming up, but the werewolf hunters haven’t forgotten about them, and neither has Princess Kabachetka, Malveria’s deadly rival.”

The above is the author’s  own spirited synopsis of Curse of the Wolf Girl, a follow up to his previous effort Lonely Werewolf Girl, which introduces and follows the tale of  Kalix, the titular lonely werewolf girl, and a cast of gloriously oddball and yet remarkably compelling characters.  Their story – fraught with grunge and gore and violence galore, and underscored by a strange dark humor somehow both sly and ingenuous at once – makes for a gleefully irresistible read.

Martin Millar’s complex series – a veritable lycanthropian soap opera –  features said oddball characters, along with “multiple races, enchanting fashion trappings, business, family dynamics, music, sex, enduring love, romance, business, eating disorders, drug addiction, back-alley fights, epic battles, politics, and, most prominently, the contrary nature of werewolves”.

Millar has also authored The Good Fairies of New York, Suzy Led Zepplin and Me, and The Thraxas series (as Martin Scott) for which he won the World Fantasy Award in 2000.  See after the jump for our Q&A, in which he thoughtfully discusses past and present influences and future endeavors, while hitting The Sex Pistols, Jane Austen and T Rex in between.

H.B. to H.P.

Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Born on this baleful day back in 1890. Portrait by Bruce Timm

“There are not many persons who know what wonders are opened to them in the stories and visions of their youth; for when as children we listen and dream, we think but half-formed thoughts, and when as men we try to remember, we are dulled and prosaic with the poison of life. But some of us awake in the night with strange phantasms of enchanted hills and gardens, of fountains that sing in the sun, of golden cliffs overhanging murmuring seas, of plains that stretch down to sleeping cities of bronze and stone, and of shadowy companies of heroes that ride caparisoned white horses along the edges of thick forests; and then we know that we have looked back through the ivory gates into that world of wonder which was ours before we were wise and unhappy.”

–from H.P. Lovecraft’s “Celephais”

Previously on Coilhouse:

Boring Books Accompanied by “Autopsy Music”

Menacing and amusing in equal measure, here’s “a selection of book titles and covers so boring they’re interesting”, set to spooky minimal pseudo-Webern music, and seemingly narrated by Alan Rickman on a ‘luude binge:

Via Sport Murphy.

Reading the YouTube comments is, for once, highly recommended. MAXIMUM PO-MO LULZ.

Tom Henderson’s “Punk Mathematics” Book Project

We haven’t mentioned “punk rock mathematician” Tom Henderson here before, have we? Gotta fix that, pronto.

First, go here to read a fantastic interview at Technoccult to get a sense of Henderson’s deeply personal and accessible philosophy of mathematics. After that, if you find that your brainy bits are delightfully fizzy, go to the Mathpunk site to read MORE fizzmaking stuff, or listen to the Math For Primates podcast. And then, if you find Henderson to be just as badass, brilliant and MAXIMUMADORBZ as so many of us already do, head over to Kickstarter to watch his deeply endearing pitch video for the Punk Mathematics book project:

Punk Mathematics will be a series of mathematical stories. It is written for readers who are interested in having their minds expanded by the strange metaphors and implications of mathematics, even if they’re not always on friendly terms with equations. Better living through probability; the fractal dimension of cities and cancers; using orders of magnitude to detect bullshit; free will and quantum economics; and the mathematics of cooperation in a networked world on the brink of a No Future collapse.

It looks like Henderson’s more than reached his financial goal, but don’t let that dissuade you from tucking some more money into his punk-as-fuck fanny pack. Every little bit helps, and this book sounds unlike anything else that’s being published these days.

Ishihara Gojin: “The Norman Rockwell of Japan”

Pink Tentacle recently posted a glut of gorgeously creepy children’s book illustrations by Ishihara Gōjin (or Gōjin Ishihara). A prolific illustrator in post-WWII  Tokyo, the man has been repeatedly referred to as “The Norman Rockwell of Japan”. Which, of course, in the context of drawings of shrieking children being terrorized by human-headed snakes and anus-gobbling demonic turtle men, is pretty goshdarn special.

The first several images in Pink Tentacle’s  gallery of Ishihara Gōjin’s work “appeared in the Illustrated Book of Japanese Monsters (1972), which profiled supernatural creatures from Japanese legend. The other illustrations appeared in various educational and entertainment-oriented publications for children.” But wait, there’s more! Soooo much more.

Kiddie yokai and sci-fi are only the beginning. Delve a little deeper, and you’ll discover that in addition to creating monstrous children’s fare, Ishihara Gōjin adapted the story of famed samurai Yagyū Jūbēi, which this manga reviewer describes as “Norman Rockwell drawing a manga series…about a gay love affair between Abraham Lincoln and a lean-hipped, square-jawed cowboy”.  He’s also the mastermind behind this utterly mind-rending, eye-melting, Joe Coleman-would-be-proud cover of  issue 2 of The Seikimatsu Club manga:

Lessee now…  Charlie Manson’s got Sharon Tate in a chokehold while rubbing elbows with members of the Klu Klux Klan, and there’s benevolent ol’ Jim Jones, and AUM Shinrikyō’s Asahara Shōko on the cross… Alex SandersYa Ho Wha 13Anton LaVey (and barnyard pals), Deguchi OnisaburoRuth Norman (speak of the Atlantian!), and last but not least… Aleister Crowley? Holy fucking shitballs.

Then there are these oddly scintillating depictions of the Mario Brothers:

Quivering brainmeats not yet liquified? Observe more embolism-inducing imagery after the jump. Apologies in advance for the lack of English titles and references–  most of the scans were ganked from an incredible Japanese language shrine to Ishihara Gojin. Also, sure to read the in-depth feature over at Comipress covering his visionary career.

\m/ Out on the Wiley, Windy Moors \m/

Who knew that, deep within Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights, an epic power metal ballad was waiting to be unleashed? Brazilian metal band Angra discovered this great truth in 1993, releasing the utterly deadpan cover above. There’s no music video to accompany the song, but I suggest syncing it up with Kate’s “white dress” version, below (as opposed to the “red dress” version for the American release – while also stunning, the facial expressions in it are more sane in a way that makes it pale in comparison). Kate Bush was 18 when she wrote the song, and had never read the book. She later read it, and discovered that she shares a birthday with Emily Brontë.

Previously in Amazing Music from Brazil: Secos e Molhados/Ney Matogrosso

Previously in Metuuuuuuul: \m/ Slayer Grandma \m/

[via Mildred Von]

Read Any Good Books Lately?

Brought to us by the sick bastards over at Bad Advice For Good Times.

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All Tomorrows: Sovereign Bleak

I always thought danger along the frontier was something that was a lot of fun; an exciting adventure, like in the three-D shows.” A wan smile touched her face for a moment. “Only it’s not, is it? It’s not the same at all, because when it’s real you can’t go home after the show is over.”

“No,” he said. “No, you can’t.”

Story goes like this: there’s an emergency ship en route to a plague-ridden planet, carrying essential medicine. The pilot finds a stowaway; a young girl, Marilyn, who just wants to see her brother.

The pilot now has a problem: he has enough fuel to get himself to the planet, but no one else. Interstellar law is clear: all stowaways are jettisoned immediately.

But space captains are heroic sorts. Whatever harsh decisions the author puts in their background to prove their grit, this is still a story. This time will be different. Marilyn is the perfect, plucky sidekick-in-training; surely the pilot can figure out some way to save both her and the planet’s populace.

No. There is no solution. She says her goodbyes and is ejected, with “a slight waver to the ship as the air gushed from the lock, a vibration to the wall as though something had bumped the outer door in passing, then there was nothing and the ship was dropping true and steady again.”

The above is from Tom Godwin’s The Cold Equations. When it came out in Astonishing Science Fiction in August, 1954, it shocked the hell out of the magazine’s readership, used to the last-minute triumph of human ingenuity.

Godwin’s classic was only the beginning. The ensuing decades would see American sci-fi delve into realms unthinkable to its forebears. Desperate to shake off the genre “urinal,” as Kurt Vonnegut so succinctly termed it, writers first ditched one of the key assumptions: that the hero will always save the day. Maturity, in this view, meant uncomfortable truths. Often, it meant unhappy endings, not just for the protagonists, but frequently the entire world.

This is a scattershot story of how the bleak tomorrow came to reign, and how it changed our visions of the future.

Children by the Millions Wait for Alex Chilton

In honor of Alex Chilton’s passing, we’d like to publish this article written by Joshua Ellis. This article appeared in Coilhouse Issue 04. You can also view a PDF of this article, by a strange twist of fate, over at the official Pixies website. It’s not an article about him, or The Pixies, per se. However, we’ve been wanting to publish this article on our blog for a while now, and this feels like the right moment to do so. This article speaks to the heart of why we’re all here together. What’s that song? / I’m in love / With that song…

I have this memory, and I’m not sure if it’s even real–or if it’s real, if it’s cobbled together from a half-dozen memories, fragments of things that happened over the course of a year or two that began the summer before I started high school, in 1991.

In this memory, I’m sitting in the basement of a girl named Sara, who pronounced her name “Saah-rah” and had purple hair and smoked clove cigarettes. I didn’t know Sara very well, but she was part of a small collective of freaks and weirdos that I had congregated to when I moved that summer from my ancestral home of north Texas to the small mountain town of Hamilton, Montana.

I’m sitting in Sara’s basement with my friends: Jeremy, the pretty guy who wears big black woolen overcoats and Jamaican tam o’ shanters in bright yellow and red and green, and seems to have unlimited access to the panties of every single girl in the Bitterroot Valley; Wade, who perpetually sports Birkenstock loafers that look like inflated bladders and drives a white Volkswagen Beetle covered in Grateful Dead stickers; Nate, who is one of the best guitarists I’ve ever met and is a huge aficionado of what will later come to be known as “extreme” sports, like bouncing down jagged rock faces on a beat-up skateboard deck; Sarah and her sister, Jenny, who are both fond of dropping random giggly non sequiturs into the conversation when stoned.

They’re all here, or some of them, or none of them. We’re sitting in the dark, talking bohemian bullshit, maybe smoking pot. It’s the kind of night that gets put on endless repeat when you’re young and strange and condemned to spend your adolescence in some far-flung desolate shithole like Hamilton, Montana, where you can’t lose yourself in the noise or happily become part of it, the way you can in New York or Seattle or Los Angeles or Chicago.

I’m not as cool as they are. I don’t know about cool shit. I’m just this uptight kid from J. R. Ewing Land who talks too much, still wears Bugle Boy button-downs and M. C. Hammer pants, and has only the dimmest idea that there’s some entire world out there of cool shit that I know nothing about. I own a Jane’s Addiction album and I’ve vaguely heard of the Sex Pistols.

And in this memory, Sara gets up and puts a cassette tape into her boom box. It’s a time traveler from 1984, beaten and scuffed, with the inevitable broken-off cassette door, so you just slap the tape in and hope that the tape head keeps it from falling out, which will cause the relentless motors to chew the tape and unspool it like the entrails of a slaughtered pig. Sara slaps the tape in and hits play.

This song comes out–a slow beat, big and echoing, then a bass playing eighth notes, and then a guitar, dreamy and vibrating. It sounds like what I imagine sunrise on a beach would be like, like what I imagine doing heroin would be like, like what I imagine sex in a dark room with that awesome girl you lie awake and dream of meeting would be like. I haven’t experienced any of these things–yet.

And then a voice, a high husky man’s voice, gentle over the music.

Cease to resist, given my good-byes
Drive my car into the o-o-sha-hah-hahn

You think I’m dead, but I sail away
On a wave of mutilation, wave of mutilation
Wave of mutilation


“What is this?” I ask. Sara shrugs.

“It’s the Pixies,” she says in this memory that may not even be real, or maybe didn’t happen this way at all. “The song’s called ‘Wave of Mutilation.’ This is the U.K. Surf Mix. The real version is faster and louder.”

“I’ve never heard of them,” I said. “I’ve never heard this.”

“They’re pretty cool,” Sara says. “I think they’re from, like, Boston.”

I nod. Pretty cool.