Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Ionicus Part One: The William Kimber Covers

A few days ago, my good friend Nick of the blog A Pile of Leaves mentioned picking up a book of ghost stories because of the cover. Before I even saw what the book was I already kind of suspected what it *might* be. Knowing enough of Nick's taste and his description of the title in question I thought, rightly, that this may well be a William Kimber book with an Ionicus cover. Books which I have something of a long standing fondness for.

Now I've been collecting ghost stories for about seven years now - it's an interesting hobby because, unlike crime fiction, it's frequently about picking collections which have lots of doubles (at the very least) of stories you already own because of the odd one or two you don't... and all because that little, neglected gem may end up being something truly special. And during my detective work in trying to find these things I soon realised I had a particular niche in the genre all to myself - Kimber.

Most fans of supernatural fiction really don't rate William Kimber collections or editions. They think them a bit bloodless and lifeless. The Ionicus covers particularly figure highly in this disdain, possibly because for a generation of book collectors he's an artist who really seems deeply linked with PG Wodehouse reissues. They find him a bit limp and polite and - almost literally - a little bloodless, which is true if you're after lurid covers. But if, like me, you don't mind a bit of the softly sinister to go with the ridiculously overblown covers then they're an absolute treat. And besides, the fact that Kimber published so many books by R Chetwynd Hayes should be a giveaway - he's also often thought of as a little bloodless and "safe" compared to someone like, say, Ramsey Campbell or Robert Aickman (this is a little unfair: "The Day That Father Brought Something Home" is one of the greatest bits of supernatural fiction ever in my opinion). I will admit a lot of Kimber books are a bit... lacking in places, but I have such a fondness for them because of the design that I snap them up whenever I see them.

This is my collection of Ionicus Kimber covers - I will do a few more Ionicus entries during the week, particularly explaining why I love him and his art so much. In the mean time - enjoy!

















Fairly obviously this last book is not particularly supernaturally themed, but it still does have a rather splendid Ionicus cover. So in it goes! More of these later this week hopefully....


6 comments:

  1. I love Haunted Waters! I'm sure I remember disliking his Wodehouse covers but these seem particularly suited for ghost stories - both eerie and cosy like a good ghost book should be.

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    1. i think ionicus' major flaw is a lack of convincing warmth in his people. his eye for details in terms of the natural world and architecture is peerless, but people can seem a bit lifeless. hence wodehouse, whose covers should exude warmth can seem a little cold in his hands. i love them myself, but that's because i've always favoured blandings over the rest of the wodehouse ouevre - it makes sense i like the evocation of a place that much. with these, i honestly think they work because they're the stages where the drama has either taken place or is about to start... what is going to happen in these places? that can't be nice etc etc

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  2. Where are the other covers!!! Would love to see them! I rather like these to be honest?

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    1. oh! i shall get onto this - sorry. am doing a big book sort out next week so shall dig out more ionicus then...

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    2. Brilliant!!! I have a few of these books myself but some, like the Tales From The Other Side book, I've never seen before! That a damn fine cover there! Many thanks for when you do scan them!!! ;-)

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    3. tchah! forgot about this - shall get onto it. been a busy few weeks... but yeah, for some reason ionicus has a mixed reputation as a horror/ ghost story cover artist where to me he's one of the very best...

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