A Dunwich Horror


The next project in the press is set, and the really exciting news is that its another collaboration with Briony Morrow-Cribbs, our first since Iskandariya. It will be Lovecrafts The Dunwich Horror, featuring full-page aquatints by Briony. And because it ties in with the story, HPLs brief Chronology of the Necronomicon will be included as an appendix.

After publishing Shadow Over Innsmouth in 2005, every year a few people ask if HM will do another Lovecraft story. Innsmouth only happened because I’d recently become friends with David Clifford, who ran a boutique letterpress shop in town, doing the usual kind of ephemeral and commercial printing. He said if ever I had an idea for a book project that we could collaborate on, he’d be interested in doing something more substantial. I’d already been playing with ideas for Innsmouth, and commissioned wood engravings by Shinsuke Minegishi for a trial edition (above, 2002). The text was longer than I felt I could attack with the handpress at that time, so I suggested we do an edition of 200 copies that would be reasonably priced, with a handful that would be more luxe, along the lines of what I was producing (or trying to) at my studio. David was up for it and it was Game On. 

The Batrachian copies were modelled in format on the 1936 original, combined with Library of America books: simple, elegant hardcovers. The luxe Ichthyan copies were printed on better paper, included actual prints from Shin’s engravings (the ones printed with the text are polymer reproductions), and an elaborate limp vellum-style binding. But all the printing was by David (who used a Heidelberg), so it wasn’t entirely, or purely, a HM book. At the time I’d already identified The Dunwich Horror as a possible follow-up. The bibliographic part of the plot, and the menacing tone appealed. But if I did another Lovecraft I wanted to print it myself, and there were other projects that interested me more.

I’ll do another post about Briony and her work this spring. For now, suffice to say she’s had many personal and professional adventures since we did Iskandariya (she worked on a book edited by Neil Gaiman!). Last year we started swapping emails about finding a new project together. When I pulled out Dunwich and suggested it, I didn’t think it would fly. She hadnt read the story, and I didn’t think it was her kind of thing. So I was surprised when she replied enthusiastically Yes! I was inspired to suggest it after looking over some of her prints and realized one of my long-time favorites, Buzz II (see top), included numerous elements from and allusions to the story. She saw exactly what I meant, and it became the springboard for what will come.

Another inspiration was the massive etching Briony created as a jacket for Iskandariya (lots of whippoorwills in the bushes...). 

Which brings us to now. Intaglio is a fussy and time-consuming process. To keep what will already be an expensive book from being prohibitively so, we decided to limit the number of prints in most copies to four. But Briony has ideas for more than four etchings, so we’ve struck upon a plan that will make future cataloguers’ lives a nightmare:
  • Fifteen copies specially bound by Claudia Cohen will contain all seven etchings Briony is creating for this project, a frontispiece and six interior prints. These six prints will be identified by a letter (A – F) in the plate. 
  • The edition’s remaining 35 copies will each contain the frontispiece, and three of the interior prints. But which combination of three will vary from copy to copy (e.g. A, B & C, or B, D & F, etc.), and thus no more than two copies will have the same combination.
We’ve settled on a format (about 7.5 x 10.5 inches, 60-ish pages), and an edition (50 copies issued in two states). The typesetting is nearly complete (following the 1929 Weird Tales original), printing will begin this month. I’ll be using a stash of 1970s-era Barcham Green Hayle paper; I have just enough (see below) for the edition (as long as I don’t screw up...). Briony will print her aquatints on kitikata, the same paper she used for Iskandariya. A few other details are still being hammered out. 

Publication is scheduled for late fall. Future posts this spring will focus on different aspects of the project  the prints, the bindings, etc. – but I’m undecided on how much we’ll share images during production: I like the idea of waiting until it’s completed, presenting the combined result rather than the various parts. We’ll see. Meanwhile, there is a dedicated new site for the project, which will be expanded in about a month’s time.