Fall is finally here, and I’ve been waiting patiently all year for October to arrive to present a list of seasonal selections from my favorite section of The Last Bookstore: The Art + Rare Book Annex.
The Art of Horror: An Illustrated History by Stephen Jones. Published last autumn, this exceptionally well-curated and designed hardcover is probably one of the best compilations of horror art that I’ve seen so far. Gorgeous Hieronymus Bosch endpapers, beautiful large and colorful plates, educated contributors like David J. Skal (author of Hollywood Gothic, a great book about the history of Dracula) and Neil Gaiman (who wrote the foreword),The Art of Horror consists of over 500 images including old engravings, book illustrations, pulp magazine covers, movie posters, comic books, original paintings and digital art. Every aspect of the genre is represented, and the writing is very thorough and easy-to-read. I love to give this book away; it makes a perfect gift to bring the host of any Halloween parties you might attend this season.
Sex and Horror Volume I and Volume II. Last spring, London-based publisher Korero Press released the first in its Fumetti (the Italian word for comics) art series Sex and Horror. The first installation is devoted to the wild and weird artwork of Emanuele Taglietti, an artist who worked mainly in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Italy. Taglietti’s illustrations are outrageous, shocking, inundated with violence and eroticism, and are considered highly collectable today. I’d never heard of Taglietti before picking up this book and was excited to find an interview with him on the Korero Press website which you can read here.
Published just last month, the second volume of Sex and Horror is all about another virtually unknown Fumetti artist, Alessandro Biffignandi, who worked for Edifumetto, the foremost Italian producer of adult comics between the late 1960s and 1980s. Biffignandi’s illustrations seem even more twisted and outrageous that those in the first volume and are tinged with humor so black it oozes.
Highly recommended for fans of horror pulp and pin up art, but certainly not for children.
Famous Monsters: Movie Art of Basil Gogos. Basil Gogos is the King of movie monster art. No really, he is the best …AND Basil Gogos is his real name. Known primarily for his portraits of movie monsters which appeared on the cover of Famous Monsters of Filmland, a magazine written and edited by Forest J. Ackerman (who you can read about on our blog here). Gogos pretty much defined the genre with his vivid use of color and light. Famous Monsters is the first and only monograph of Gogos’ work and includes his horror and men’s adventure artwork making it an essential addition to any horror lover’s library.
Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze In America 1957-1972 by Mark Voger. Reprinted only last summer, Monster Mash is a chronological history of all things monstrous in pop culture during a fifteen year span of time in American history when lots of things were still new, and kitsch reigned supreme. Highlights include an introduction by famed horror host Zacherly and interviews with such television horror icons of the 1960s like John Astin (Gomez Addams), Al Lewis (Grandpa Munster), and Jonathan Frid (Barnabus Collins).
Paper Dandy’s Horrorgami: 20 Gruesome Scenes to Cut and Fold. Are you looking for an entertaining Halloween activity and love to fold and cut? This is your book! A combination of horror, craft and architecture, Horrorgami is the first book of its kind that I’ve encountered and decidedly the best. The cutting is intricate, but the book is easy to use and features an informative section of tips, tools and techniques. The twenty scenes include creepy locations such as Carfax Abbey (Dracula), Dr. Frank-n-Furter’s Castle (Rocky Horror), Skull Island (King Kong), and the Paris Catacombs. Be warned though, the devil is definitely in the details with this activity book.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula: A Coloring Classic (Doubleday) and Haunted Horror Pre-Code Cover Coloring Book from The Chilling Archives of Horror Comics. Just when you think the adult coloring book trend is dead and buried… it rises from the grave with these two new releases! Dracula: A Coloring Classic is ornately illustrated, complete with bats and beasts galore and features quotes from Stoker’s classic novel. Haunted Horror is thirty pages of glorious ghouls which are waiting for your poisoned pen (or colored pencil) and includes that iconic image of a half skeleton lady seen through a brandy snifter (which The Misfits borrowed for their Die, Die My Darling 12” record) among other illustrations from classic horror comics.
Horror in Architecture by Joshua Comaroff and Ong Ker-Shing. “There is no exquisite beauty without some strangeness in the proportions”. -E.A. Poe, Ligeia. An unassuming little paperback which presents an interesting and educated comparison between the theory of horror, and architecture, art and photography. This book surprised me, which is rare and exciting.
Dark Inspiration I and II: Grotesque Illustrations, Art and Design. An elegant black and gold two volume set from Victionary Press which features a finely curated collection of macabre contemporary artists, illustrators, designers, and photographers from around the world. Both books offer only a brief introduction and those introductions are the only text in the book besides the artist credits and biographies at the end. Definitely recommended, especially for collectors looking to be exposed to art and artists that are as fresh and new as an open grave.
Witches & Wicked Bodies by Deanna Petherbridge. An eye-catching softcover catalog which accompanied an exhibition that traveled from The National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh to The British Museum in London between 2013-2015. The pieces featured are all from British collections and are from artists who worked from as early as the sixteenth century to present day conceptual artists, like Cindy Sherman. This book is an incredible resource of all things witchy, and includes a variety of pieces from diverse mediums, etchings, engravings, pen + ink, graphite, woodcuts, oil paintings, and photographs. I’ve looked through this book dozens of times, and it continues to bewitch me with every perusal.
Beyond the Dark Veil: Post Mortem and Mourning Photography from The Thanatos Archive. I’m always surprised by just how popular this photography book is, as it’s not for everyone. It’s a beautiful book brimming with pictures of the dead and dying. This lovely little leather tome contains over 120 photographs, as well as newspaper articles, clippings, funeral notices, memorial ephemera, and is also black and gold, which must be a very popular palette for books of the bizarre. Recommended for individuals interested in the history of photography or the art and ritual of mourning.
Morbid Curiosities: Collections of the Uncommon and the Bizarre by Paul Gambino. The last book on the list is also the most recent, released only last week. It’s all about creepy collections and the creative collectors who lovingly curate them. Morbid Curiosities features eighteen incredible collections, probably some of the most impressive I’ve even seen outside of the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia (or The Museum of Death here in Los Angeles). Skulls, coffins, taxidermy, funereal and mourning ephemera, gas masks, preserved specimens, spirit boards, shrunken heads: there is a lot of eye candy (and eyeballs) in this book, and more than once I caught myself turning green with envy at some of the displays featured in this amusing hardcover. The cover is black, the edge paper is black, and the photography is well-executed (including images by one of my favorite contemporary photographers Darla Teagarden).
It’s all very spooky indeed.