Monday, 9 November 2015
Review: The Art of Horror edited by Stephen Jones
Format: Large hardcover
Released: October 9th, 2015
Amazingly, there has never been a book quite like The Art of Horror-a celebration of frightful images, compiled and presented by some of the genre's most respected names. While acknowledging the beginnings of horror-related art in legends and folk tales, the focus of the book is on how the genre has presented itself to the world since the creations of Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley first became part of the public consciousness in the 19th century. It's all here: from early engravings-via dust jackets, book illustrations, pulp magazines, movie posters, comic books, and paintings-to today's artists working entirely in the digital realm. Editor Stephen Jones and his stellar team of contributors have sourced visuals from archives and private collections (including their own) worldwide, ensuring an unprecedented selection that is accessible to those discovering the genre, while also including many images that will be rare and unfamiliar to even the most committed fan. From the shockingly lurid to the hauntingly beautiful-including images of vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, demons, serial killers, alien invaders, and more-every aspect of the genre is represented in ten themed chapters. Quotes from artists/illustrators, and a selection from writers and filmmakers, are featured throughout.
The Art of Horror is a visually stunning book that belongs on every horror fan's shelf. It's a giant 256-page hardback filled with images of horror art, and it also boasts a forward by literary legend Neil Gaiman. Stephen Jones has done a great job of editing the entire thing, and it's nothing more than a love letter to horror and all the art that has accompanied it over the years.
Split into ten themed chapters, The Art of Horror starts with my favourite of all creatures: 'vampires, bloodsuckers and other undead'. It then goes on to cover zombies, man-made monsters, werewolves, ghosts, serial killers and anything else you can think of that goes bump in the night. Nothing is omitted here, and instead there's an absolute wealth of horror history and its accompanying artwork. I particularly enjoyed reading about the visual history of vampires and how they came to be the fanged creatures we know today, and I'm very glad to confirm that Buffy gets a mention!
The Art of Horror draws on a lot of artwork from various different sources, such as film posters, paintings and book illustrations, and each image has a story to tell. There's a paragraph of text linked to every image presented, and that itself is well worth the price of the book. There's lots of facts and trivia included, and it even features an image of the cover of the first paperback printing of Dracula. I'd never seen it until now! I'm also impressed with the inclusion of book and film art from I Am Legend, The Last Man on Earth and The Omega Man. Any horror book that includes these is an instant buy for me!
There's also some brilliant Cthulhu art presented in this book and it's a real treat to look at. Also making an appearance is fantastic original art of Regan from The Exorcist, Sam from Trick 'r Treat and Jack Torrance from The Shining. In fact, there's so much good stuff here that it's impossible to mention it all!
The Art of Horror is an incredible book for horror fans, and is one that can be read as a whole or one to simply dip in and out of. I can't think of another book like it, and I'm not sure any other could be better than this. If you're a fan of horror or the macabre, or even just horror cinema, then this book needs to be in your collection. Applause, Stephen Jones and all involved have truly accomplished something special here and I'm very glad I got the opportunity to see it!