THe arT of Horror
Look of terror
released OUT NOW! 256 pages | Hardback Editor stephen Jones Publisher applause
this “illustrated history” falls frustratingly short of magnificence for a couple of reasons.
Arranged thematically, it’s divided into 10 sections on subjects such as werewolves, Lovecraftian horrors and psychos, and often feels like a history of a particular genre, with the visual focus lost. With ten different writers, there’s some variance in approach: the chapter on ghost stories takes pains to namecheck as many illustrators as possible, and the one on alien horrors lauds pulp magazine artists Frank R Paul and Edward Cartier. But overall it feels like there’s too much emphasis on the fiction and not enough on the artists who illustrated it.
Secondly, many of the works given the most space are very recent. There will be practical reasons for that – much of the original art represented here via vintage book or magazine covers is no doubt lost – but it can feel like modern-day illustrators are foregrounded at the expense of figures of greater significance.
That said, it remains pleasingly crammed with gruesome imagery, much of it rare, with passages of well-researched detail about, for example, how the visual language of the vampire developed over time. Calvin Baxter
Bram Stoker’s Dracula was first illustrated – crawling down his castle wall – on the cover of an abridged 1901 paperback.
about it. The heroes of hard-boiled detective fiction are unwavering, talk in a deadpan monotone and have to process chaos into some kind of order. So why not replace one with a robot?
Set in a parallel ’60s LA where robots have already come and gone, this latest novel from the prolific Adam Christopher is pure pulp joy. It follows a hunk of metal called Raymond Electromatic, the last robot left, guided by Ada, the office computer. It’s like late Raymond Chandler tumbling into early Philip K Dick, and the tone is perfect, especially in its adoption of Chandler’s grimly baroque similes. “I laughed,” says Ray at one point. “It sounded like two rocks going for a joyride in a clothes washer.”
But Christopher goes deeper than pastiche. Ray’s primitive systems can only retain 24 hours of memory, so each day he’s a clean slate, briefed on the case by Ada – and it’s not clear he can trust her. This is wonderfully noir, leaving Ray slightly adrift between the forces trying to manipulate him. And in true Chandler style, Ray quickly becomes implicated in the very case he’s investigating, making things even knottier.
Made To Kill is book one of a trilogy. We’d happily go for more than three. Eddie Robson
If you want to read more detective fiction by Adam Christopher, he also writes spin-off books for Elementary.
Pleasingly crammed with rare, gruesome imagery
Edd Cartier’s illustration for L Ron Hubbard’s “Fear” in Unknown Fantasy Fiction.
Cover for Return Of The Living Dead (artist Les Edwards).