Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bob and Dave

Speaking of art, I forgot to mention that Spare Parts contains six interior illustrations, three each by British Fantasy Award winning artist Bob Covington and British Fantasy nominated artist Dave Bezzina.

Dave's website can be found at (For some reason the blog is refusing to let me link to his site.) And one of his illustrations from Spare Parts can be viewed here

Monday, March 13, 2006

I May Not Know Much About Art ...

I went to the Gothic Nightmares exhibition at the Tate Britain recently. The focus was on John Henry Fuseli (specifically his painting The Nightmare), William Blake and James Gillray.

The exhibition was fascinating, depicting scenes from classical mythology, Shakespeare, Milton etc. This got me thinking about how art works its way into the public consciousness. These days people often equate a book's success by whether it gets made into a successful film. Obviously the books have to be popular to be made into a film in the first place but a good film adaptation can often ensure longevity in a way that surpasses the original books. Take James Bond. People would still quite possibly be reading the original Ian Fleming novels even if it hadn't been for the success of the films but the number of people who would have heard of 007 would be significantly slashed. The Lord of the Rings finally made it to the big screen due to Peter Jackson's love of the source material and Tolkien fanboys the world over waited, ready to rip him to pieces if he dropped the ball. But thousands upon thousands of people who have never read the book now have a whole new fantasy playground to frolic in.

Back in Shakespeare's day the chances of getting a movie option were obviously pretty slim but the Bard had the next best thing. Plays. The public didn't have to sit through an A level in English Literature to appreciate Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet. They just watched the plays being performed. Even if they didn't always appreciate the poetry of Shakespeare's dialogue they could always laugh at Will Kemp delivering a fart joke. Plays were the films of their day, ensuring Shakespeare's fame in a way that the written word alone couldn't.

And the paintings by the likes of Fuseli no doubt helped too. When Fuseli wanted to paint a dramatic scene he would turn to Macbeth and the three witches, or good and evil angels battling over a man's soul in Dante's Purgatory, or Siegfried slaying Fafnir in The Nibelungenlied. These stories would have been well-known before Fuseli painted them but his work would point even more people towards the source material. Art lovers would be pointed towards literature and literature lovers would be pointed towards art in a mutually beneficial relationship.

Another thing that struck me about the paintings and sculptures on display at the
exhibit was the dynamism, both of composition and of anatomy. What little art (with a capital A) I had seen in the past often seemed rather stiff and lifeless but this was bursting with energy. Fuseli's depiction of battling angels had the vim and vigour of a Hawkman comic panel. And his painting of Thor wrestling the Midgard serpent put me in mind of Frank Frazetta.

Even Blake, whose work often felt rather childlike to me, showed a vitality I had not previously witnessed in his work. His portrayal of two angels -- one good, one evil -- battling over a baby reminded me of Gil Kane's rendition of Green Lantern.
In fact one series of paintings in the exhibit had been titled by the organisers as 'Superheroes.'

This was brought home to me when, a few days later, I popped into my local Burger King to find it decorated with poster-sized prints from various comics. Covers and splash pages by Jack Kirby, John Buscema, Jerry Robinson and John Byrne. Wonderful stuff. Kirby's crude but kinetically charged work bursting from the frame, Buscema's lovingly rendered anatomy.

Sigh. I wish I could draw.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Spare Parts

Been meaning to mention this for ages. My first short story collection, Spare Parts, has sold out from its publisher, Rainfall Books. Offhand the only place you can get a copy now would be at Shocklines . The Shocklines copies are signed by my own fair hand and so are quite possibly now collectables on par with the works of Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci. Despite this Shocklines are still selling the books at their original price.

And just to prove that people other than myself think the book is worthy of your time here are some comments by various reviewers and acclaimed authors. (Some of whom I didn't even have to blackmail.)

"Stuart Young not only writes stories, he gives them life." -- Tim Lebbon

"Stuart Young excels in his portrayal of emotional pain." -- Matt Cardin

"Produces a deep sense of grief and desolation such as only great writers are capable of evoking." -- The Alien Online

"Stuart Young writes like Roald Dahl with a freshly sharpened butcher knife, effortlessly cutting straight to the heart." -- Mark McLaughlin

"The entire book will entertain, intrigue and, ultimately, haunt you for a very long time. Superb." -- Sue Phillips

And there's a review of the book up at Whispers of Wickedness .

Friday, March 10, 2006

Name Game

No idea why this has just popped into my head but it has. A year or two back I was chatting with one of my friends about whether Peter Cushing was still alive. Neither of us could remember so my mate looked him up on the Internet but was puzzled that no search results came up. When I looked at the screen it turned out that he'd typed in Peter Cushion.

God knows what other furniture related celebrities he's tried looking up: Marti Pillow, Peter O'Stool, Sonny and Chair, Bed Norton, Sofa Loren.

Couple of weeks later he did the same thing. We were talking about the Star Wars prequels and he mentioned the Samuel L Jackson character Mace Window. Which of course led to me suggesting he did an Internet search for Ceiling Dion and Babe Roof.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Empires of the Imagination

I've interviewed Alec Worley about his book on the history of Fantasy cinema, Empires of the Imagination, over at The Alien Online

It's worth a look. He's a funny chap that Alec.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Selling My Soul

Forget the Oscars, there's only one set of awards British SF/F/H writers are interested in and that's the British Fantasy Awards. (But that's because we're very sad.)

After all these years of laughing at other people desperately promoting their work come awards time I've finally given in and decided to whore my work. I'm not proud of this but I was getting a little tired of my stories getting recommended for the BFS awards five years after they were actually eligible. (Hopefully this means my stories are so cutting edge that it takes everyone else five years to catch up with me. More likely it means that people read reprints of my old stories and didn't think to check the original publication date.)

I haven't quite got to the stage where I'm emailing everyone I've ever met just to browbeat them into voting for me but I'm sure as awards fever tightens its grip on me I'll stoop to whole new lows. So as we wait for the last remnants of my dignity to unravel here's a list of my fiction which is eligible for this year's awards.

'The Mask Behind the Face'

The Mask Behind the Face

'Mr Nice Guy'(From The Mask Behind the Face)
'Field Trip' (From Here & Now #7)

So vote now. Help make me a superstar! You know you want to!

God, I feel dirty.