The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Something for the Weekend


They Call it Madness — Jess Nevins  reviews the H.P. Lovecraft collection The Classic Horror Stories for the L.A. Review of Books:

Lovecraft was not the best of his era in any of the genres he wrote in. Clark Ashton Smith was a better stylist. Algernon Blackwood wrote better horror. Olaf Stapledon wrote better science fiction. Yet it is Lovecraft who has been canonized with a Library of America edition, who has provided the source material for academic writings, comic books, and even game shows like Jeopardy, and who has been assimilated by capitalist culture to the point that there are plushies made of his characters.

One would never have guessed this fate for Lovecraft at the time of his death in 1937…

Nevins has been heroically annotating all of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill and, most recently, compiled notes to the very Lovecraftian Nemo: Heart of Ice (pictured above). But before you get sucked in, be warned: the annotations have a kind of Borgesian horror all of their own.

(And while were on the subject of Lovecraft and comics, you could do worse than picking up I. N. J. Culbard’s adaptations of The Mountains of Madness and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward published by SelfMadeHero)

Also at the LA Review of Books, Michael Nordine on enigmatic filmmaker Terrence Malick:

Malick has the rare distinction of becoming a celebrity — at least in part — for rejecting the notion of celebrity. At a time when we’re given a direct line into our favorite stars’ streams of consciousness via the social media avenue of our choosing, the 69-year-old continues to let his films speak for themselves. When he was nominated for Best Director at the 1998 Academy Awards, the picture that appeared onscreen was of a chair with his name on it; at last year’s ceremony, a different on-set photo from the same production was used. Each new project of Malick’s is said to come with a contractual stipulation that no photos of him may be used in the film’s promotional materials. No matter: people have repeatedly proven able and willing to create an image of their own. That this picture is incomplete at best and may well be wholly inaccurate matters little. Now more than ever, it seems we still can’t conceive of a famous person who doesn’t want to be famous, and even caricatures are more satisfying than a note reading “not pictured” in the celebrity yearbook.

And finally…

David Berry in conversation Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly at the National Post. Here’s Mouly’s take on RAW:

Basically, there were no venues for comics, and I just thought, “Well, I can do it myself.” The idea was to show people what actually could be done … that it wasn’t so much a style that was one answer to where comics should go, but was more that each person had their own voice.

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