Saturday, November 15, 2014

William Hope Hodgson

Returning to scratchboard portraits in time to remember the birthday of British author of weird fiction, William Hope Hodgson, who ran away from home at the age of 13 for a life at sea… which would influence his works such as The Ghost Pirates and The Boats of the Glen Carrig. He enlisted in England's Royal Artillery at the start of World War I and he died at Ypres in 1918 at the age of 40.

Lovecraft wrote of Hodgson, "few can equal him in adumbrating the nearness of nameless forces and monstrous besieging entities through casual hints and insignificant details, or in conveying feelings of the spectral and the abnormal in connexion with regions or buildings." (The Annotated Supernatural Horror in Literature, Hippocampus Press, 2012, p.77)

For more info on the works of William Hope Hodgson, visit the blog administered by the Hodgson authority Sam Gifford.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

On the Birthday of H.G. Wells

To commemorate H.G. Wells' 148th birthday, I offer a humble portrait of the author of The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and The War of the Worlds... I did not know Wells was also responsible for the story that influenced the 1976 film, The Food of the Gods. Incredible!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Viking vs Skeletons

This is a smaller version- 5" x 7" scratchboard- of a drawing done for a friend last year, which I called "Jim's Tattoo idea, or The Fall of the Skeleton King." The skeleton has since lost his crown but is no longer so readily vanquished.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Edward Bulwer-Lytton was an Eighteenth Century English novelist, playwright, and politican who coined the famous phrases "the pen is mightier than the sword" (from his play Richelieu, 1839) and "It was a dark and stormy night," the first line from his novel Paul Clifford (1830). He sat in Britain's Parliament for nine years and the science fiction and occult nature of his fiction inspired theosophical works, and his 1862 novel A Strange Story is said to have inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula.

H.P. Lovecraft had this to say about Bulwer-Lytton:

"At this time a wave of interest in spiritualistic charlatanry, mediumism, Hindoo theosophy, and such matters, much like that of the present day, was flourishing; so that the number of weird tales with a 'psychic' or pseudo-scientific basis became very considerable. For a number of these the prolific and popular Edward Bulwer-Lytton was responsible; and despite the large doses of turgid rhetoric and empty romanticism in his products, his success in the weaving of a certain kind of bizarre charm cannot be denied. 'The House and the Brain,' which hints of Rosicrucianism and at the malign and deathless figure perhaps suggested by Louis XV's mysterious courtier St. Germain, yet survives as one of the best short haunted-house tales ever written."

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Robert W. Chambers

A bestselling author of turn-of-the-century romances now forgotten, Robert W. Chambers is remembered today for his story collection "The King in Yellow" and its influence upon contemporary weird fiction, from the work of Joe Pulver to HBO's True Detective.

"Song of my soul, my voice is dead,/ Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed/ Shall dry and die in/ Lost Carcosa." - Robert W. Chambers, "Cassilda's Song in The King in Yellow."

Monday, September 8, 2014

Bram Stoker

Irish author Bram Stoker worked as civil servant and theater manager in Dublin before publishing the classic gothic horror novel Dracula in 1897.

5" x 5" scratchboard portrait.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Lord Dunsany

Fantasy literature owes much to Lord Dunsany, Irish writer and dramatist, and 18th baron to Dunsany Castle, established in the 12th century and the oldest family home in Ireland. Along with a military career that spanned both World Wars, his first collection of short stories, The Gods of Pegana, was published in 1905, and he began writing plays several years later at the request of W.B. Yeats.
A new documentary on Lord Dunsany was released a week ago and is available to rent or buy online at

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Arthur Machen

Arthur Machen was a Welsh author of supernatural tales and decadent horror who drew upon paganism and the occult to color his fiction, which include the novel "The Hill of Dreams" (1907) and the novella "The Great God Pan" (1894). His short story "The Bowmen," about phantom archers fighting the advance of German soldiers in the First World War, was published in a London newspaper in 1914 and taken as an eyewitness account, fueling rumors that the Angels of Mons defended Britain from its enemies in an act of Divine intervention.
"There are sacraments of evil as well as of good about us, and we live and move to my belief in an unknown world, a place where there are caves and shadows and dwellers in twilight. It is possible that man may sometimes return on the track of evolution, and it is my belief that an awful lore is not yet dead." - Arthur Machen, "The Red Hand"

Monday, September 1, 2014

Algernon Blackwood

British writer Algernon Blackwood, at one time a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn, created the adventures of his psychic detective John Silence, stories that were widely popular in his day, but he remains most-known for his short stories of the supernatural such as "The Willows" and "The Wendigo." In his seventies, Blackwood read ghost stories on the BBC radio throughout World War II despite a near-death experience when his London home was bombed during The Battle of Britain. He was knighted two years before his death at the age of 82. His amazing face is almost as weird as his stories...
5" x 5" scratchboard portrait.

Friday, August 29, 2014

M. R. James

"Gifted with an almost diabolic power of calling horror by gentle steps from the midst of prosaic daily life, is the scholarly Montague Rhodes James, Provost of Eton College, antiquary of note, and recognized authority on medieval manuscripts and cathedral history," wrote H.P. Lovecraft of author M. R. James and his ghost stories. 

This 5"x5" scratchboard portrait is based upon the 2012 postage stamp released by the U.K.'s Royal Mail as part of their "Britons of Distinction" series.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ambrose Bierce

The best guy to follow Poe is Ambrose Bierce, writer, critic, and war journalist who drew upon his experiences in the American Civil War for his short stories. He went missing while covering the Mexican Revolution at the age of 71. His story "A Season in Carcosa" inspired the fiction of Robert W. Chambers and H.P. Lovecraft, as well as HBO's recent series True Detective.

 5" x 5" scratchboard.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Edgar Allan Poe

I used the "Ultima Thule" daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe as reference for this drawing- if he looks particularly glum, Poe had tried to commit suicide by a drug overdose several days before he sat for this portrait in Providence, Rhode Island, in November 1848.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Robert E. Howard.

My Friday night portrait completes the Weird Tales triumvirate with Robert E. Howard, whose Conan the Barbarian stories gave rise to the whole sword-and-sorcery genre. The countless paperbacks and comic books I possess featuring characters this guy created remain a guilty pleasure.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Clark Ashton Smith

Scratchboard portrait of Clark Ashton Smith, author and poet, painter and sculptor of the weird, and a contemporary of H.P. Lovecraft.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A scratchboard portrait for H.P. Lovecraft's 124th Birthday

I've been working on a series of small portraits done on scratchboard, and did this one of H.P. Lovecraft, 20th century American writer of weird fiction, on the occasion of what would've been his 124th birthday today.