Wednesday, 22 August 2012

They're Here (As in Illustrators and The Art of Denis McLoughlin)!!!

That's right, having braved Typhoons, Somali Pirates, Giant Squid, Krakens and Moby Dick himself, the container vessel carrying several palettes worth of The Art of Denis McLoughlin and illustrators Quarterly has finally docked at Felixstowe. Which means that copies of both these lovely items will be at Book Palace Books HQ this week. Whereupon the trusty Book Palace Elves fortified with tea and seed cake will be scurrying around for hour upon hour breaking open the palettes and cradling the treasured contents to their sweaty breasts (don't worry folks each and every copy of book and journal is sealed in mylar) as they run from delivery bay to warehouse, emitting occasional shrieks of delight as they go about their task.

I have already talked a little bit about The Art of Denis McLoughlin which is a lovely book to behold and was for all involved a real joy to work on, but there is an ongoing publishing project in the shape of illustrators which is something so exciting that we will be sharing little snippets of information as we continue with what is shaping up to be a really rewarding enterprise.

illustrators is in many ways more of a book than a journal, each copy is 96 pages of beautiful artwork by the greatest European and UK illustrators accompanied by well researched and lively text. Our overall remit with each feature is that the writing should connect the reader with the artist and the world that he/she inhabited so that by the end of the piece the reader will gain a far greater insight into the work they are looking at.

Our associate editor Bryn Havord, who in addition to teaching yours truly the finer points concerning midge's dicks, widows and orphans and running turns has the most impressive CV imaginable for a project of the magnitude of illustrators. Bryn was working as a leading Fleet Street art editor throughout the 60s. It was Bryn who gave Renato Fratini his first commission for Woman's Mirror, who was regularly commissioning artists such as Michael Johnson, Walter Wyles and Brian Sanders. Bryn's passion for illustration is second to none and his passion is backed up by years of experience as well as a deep insight and knowledge of many of the most influential of European illustrators, whose work you will be seeing in greater detail over the coming months and years.

So that's our core team, but in addition we will be featuring an expanding cast of writers including  crime fiction writer and Hardboiled editor; Gary Lovisi,  children's illustration enthusiast; Norman Wright, Pan Horror chronicler; Johnny Mains, writer and broadcaster Brian Sibley, writer and blogger Jeremy Briggs, Luci Gosling from The Mary Evans Picture Library, Frank Bellamy devotee Norman Boyd and many more writers who we are currently talking to.

As will be apparent from our first issue we are keen to source as much work as feasible from original artwork and where that is not possible, printer's proofs or high grade printed sources, so that there is we can get the reader as close to experiencing the full import of an artist's work as is possible.

I'll be talking a little more about some of our forthcoming issues shortly but in the meantime here's some images of illustrators number one just as an appetizer.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

A First Peek - The Art of Denis McLoughlin

A little over a couple of years ago, I first made a posting about the incredible 'noir' tinged art of the late, great illustrator Denis McLoughlin. The response was such that I made a few more posts and as a result was invited to work on a definitive art book with the artist's friend and biographer David Ashford. So in the spring of 2010 I went over to visit David with publisher Geoff West and we immersed ourselves in piles of McLoughlin memorabilia, including many original McLoughlin artworks and rarer than rare examples of his earliest published work, when he was still gunner McLoughlin stationed at Woolwich Barracks, a time when Herman Goering's Luftwaffe seemed to have a particular penchant for destroying any mural that McLoughlin cared to create to enliven the spartan barracks, which were his home for much of the war.

We came away with lots of photographs, which although they were of insufficient quality to serve as illustrations for the book, were to provide a superb guide for all the scans that were to be created over the intervening two years. What was missing on that first visit to David's home was anything in the way of examples of McLoughlin's celebrated hard boiled fiction covers. This to me was a particular concern as, whilst much of his superb Western and comics output is familiar to devotees of McLoughlin (in fact it's still not that difficult to acquire a complete run of his Buffalo Bill Annuals) in contrast, sourcing a complete run of his Boardman Bloodhound covers is well nigh impossible. As far as I was concerned we needed to find a way of presenting these covers which have a resonance well beyond McLoughlin's immediate fan base. But I could see it wasn't going to be that easy. The key to the conundrum came via a San Francisco based purveyor of restored dust jackets. Mark Terry had years of experience working with print and a real passion for 'hard-boiled' fiction, his network of collectors was extraordinary and not only did he know all the relevant collectors Stateside, he also knew all the UK ones as well and was even prepared to visit them with scanner in tow.

In addition to Mark, we had enormous assistance from collectors both in the UK and US and as the project gathered momentum. so did the scope of the book grow to match the ambitions of the project. A chance discovery by David Ashford of a letter from a member of the McLoughlin family elicited a whole new source of remarkable material, much of it never seen before beyond the artist and his immediate friends and family. More memory sticks were exchanged and in addition to all the incredible restorations we were receiving from Mark, we were also seeing for the first time ever Denis McLoughlin's working drawings for several of the murals that were destroyed during the war as well as absolutely pristine high grade printer's proofs of many of his Boardman Bloodhounds and razor sharp proofs of his 'hard-boiled' paperback covers.

The Art of Denis McLoughlin, which at  9" X 12" and 272 pages is a hefty and substantial read, is due to arrive on these shores very shortly and is limited to 950 copies with  a de-luxe edition of 120 copies which comes complete with a painstakingly restored copy of one of our favourite Roy Carson comics and a limited edition print sourced from a printer's proof of the paperback edition of William Campbell Gault's Don't Cry For Me.

I just hope you enjoy the book as much as we did creating it - I am sure you will!