East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


The man who sculpted Cthulhu: Stephen Hickman (1949-2021)

I first became aware of Stephen Hickman’s work when I saw the Cthulhu idol the artist sculpted, and that has become to many the definitive look of Big C. In fact, Hickman’s work had been under my eyes for ages, starting with the Dragaera covers he did for Steven Brust, to illustrations for Tolkien and Conan comics and an iconic Harlan Ellison cover.

As a person severely impaired from a graphical point of view, I am forever fascinated by the ability some people have to express themselves through shapes and colors.
Stephen Hickman, who passed away this week, was a great artist and a visual storyteller.
Here is a small gallery of his works (click on the images to enlarge).


Immortality through art

My brother is an amateur criminologist with a thing for Jack the Ripper – maybe I have already mentioned in the past his blog, Red Jack – and yesterday he mentioned to me two interesting facts:

  • Fact the first: we live in the area of Italy with the highest suicide rate in the nation (a fact I already knew and I think I mentioned in one of the Buscafusco stories)
  • Fact the second: the Christmas season is the time in the year with the highest rate of suicides – the forced merriment increases the sense of solitude, just as the shopping frenzy can push people in financial difficulties towards dark thoughts.

And today a friend, a widely published British writer, mentioned on Facebook the fact that he once sought immortality through his art – or, if not sought, he sort of gave it a thought – but nowadays he’s sceptical. He observed, and I agree, that our books are not a reliable portrait, as they represent a snapshot of what we were in a certain moment in time.

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A Jack Vettriano Gallery

I like Jack Vettriano’s art a lot.
Probably because it reminds me of the atmospheres of old pulp stories, and the style of certain old paperback covers. And I mean that as a compliment.
A self-taught former miner from Scotland, Vettriano is now one of the highest paid artists in the field.
I love a painting of his, called The Road to Nowhere.
It’s this…


So here’s a gallery of some of my faves from this wonderful painter.
(as usual, click on an image to see it enlarged)


Mitchell Hooks – a gallery

If the art of Robert McGinnis was one of the reasons why I decided I’d like to write pulp fiction, there was another artist, whose style was an inspiration, and whose designs were frequently imitated in Italian crime paperbacks when I was a kid.
Detroit-born Mitchell Hooks was a prolific artist in the world of paperback originals, and is today recognized as a master of the art of illustrating pulp stories paperback covers.
His designs are darker and “dirtier” than McGinnis’, but are equally suggestive.

Here is a small cover gallery.

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Writing Prompt – Something Different… and Important

Some very different graphical inspiration for writing, today.
I’m linking here, and I recommend you all go and read, Lauren Panepinto’s great post on the Muddy Colors collective blog.


It’s called What Women Want… in Women Characters, and it features some wonderful art to go with a strong, intelligent take on women and fantasy.
Please, read it.