Sunday, March 19, 2017

RIP Berni Wrightson (1948-2017)

The horror world mourns as it learns of the passing of unsurpassable artist Berni(e) Wrightson, who died Saturday after a long battle with brain cancer.

I first became aware of his work in 1983, when Cycle of the Werewolf was published in hardcover. A very short Stephen King "novel" with astonishing illustrations by Wrightson, my 12-year-old self was obsessed with it from the first time I saw a copy on that bookstore shelf. I saved up my paper route money and bought a copy ($28.95!) and pored over those great and gory images. Even smuggled the book into school to astonish my classmates. I'm virtually positive it was my first King story as well.

A few years later, junior high, I met a guy my age who was a true comic book aficionado. Although a novice myself, I went along with him to comics shops and that's where I learned more about Wrightson (and comics in general; this is precisely when The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen were being published): his hand in Swamp Thing, Creepshow, "Jenifer" (!!!), and what I think of his masterpiece: his 1983 adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

I can still recall how Wrightson's delicate yet detailed art made me feel dizzy with delight. This was how the Frankenstein story was supposed to look! My god. It was perfect. Unfortunately my copy has been lost to the ages, victim of a wild North Carolina storm that flooded the basement of the house I was living in back in the late '90s (which destroyed a nice chunk of other awesome books as well). I've never replaced it, and I'm not sure why.

The horror world is pouring out condolences and memories of Mr. Wrightson, and it seems by all accounts he was a terrific human in addition to being a master genre artist... and a dashing '70s fellow.

Rest well, Mr. Wrightson

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Blood of Nostradamus Trilogy by Andrew Laurance (1991): Eye of the Prophet

Consisting of three occult horror novels originally published a decade prior in the UK under different titles, Blood of Nostradamus (Diamond Books/1991) is the work of one Andrew Laurance, the pen name of a French-British author André Launay. Not sure if the original novels, the titles of which you see on the paperback covers, were related; seems like that "Blood of Nostradamus" titling (and I suspect the trilogy-izing) was an after-the-fact creation by the publisher. Speculation on my part; I had never heard of any of this till this very day.

Nostradamus and his supposed prophesying is a topic that bores me to tears. Going by the back-cover copy, these don't sound too terrible, but I really have no idea and probably won't find out. In my research I see that Diamond Books reprinted several other of his early '80s horror novels, including Ouija, The Black Hotel, and Catacomb. Haven't seen any of these out in the wild at all, and I wonder if any horror fiction readers have any familiarity with them. Let me know!