Friday, June 6, 2008

Calligraphy Books

Important Books in the History of Calligraphy
edited and with additional material by Steven Williams

A monochrome picture of the Google Books cover for ‘The Story of the Alphabet‘ by Edward Clodd.Before the beginning of the 20th Century little had been written about calligraphy except The Story of the Alphabet (1900) by Edward Clodd (1840-1930) and Sir Edward Maunde Thompson's (1840-1929) fine Handbook of Greek and Latin Paleography (1893) together with his volume English Illuminated Manuscripts, published in 1895 and out of print before 1906. But beginning with the publication by Edward Johnston (1872-1944) of his book Writing and Illuminating, and Lettering (1906), a steady stream of works about all aspects of the subject have been written. It can be argued that it probably because of the interest aroused by the pioneers in the practical side of the craft of calligraphy that this flood of calligraphic histories occurred, both in the United Kingdom and in the United States.

A black and white photo of Edward Johnston in 1903.About Edward Johnston
At the end of the 19th century, the aesthetics and philosophy of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement attracted many calligraphers, particularly Englishman Edward Johnston. Johnston was introduced to 10th-century manuscripts, at the Fitzwilliam Museum by Sir Sydney Cockerell (1867-1962) and based his own calligraphy on them. Johnston and his students went on to revive and popularise English broad-pen calligraphy.

A black and white photo of Frank Pick circa 1922.Johnston is best remembered for his enduring association with the London Underground, i.e., subway. Signage for the London Underground used a roundel with the station name in the blue bar beginning in 1908, but this pre-Johnston design used a roundel that was a solid red disc. In 1913 Edward Johnston, with some collaboration from his former student, font designer Eric Gill, began work on a commission for new font design for use in the London Underground promotional literature and signage. The commission for the design work came from Frank Pick (1878-1941), publicity officer for London Underground. A color photo of a London Transport Johnston roundel with bar design circa 1933.The new font that was developed had a distinctive sans-serif typeface and this new font was brought into use for London Underground promotional materials beginning in 1916. The Johnston font, as it came to be known, was originally called the Underground font and occasionally the Johnston's Railway font. The closest modern equivalent to the Johnston font is the London Underground font.

After completing the font design, Johnston then reworked the art design for the classic London Underground roundel and bar bullseye design to incorporate his new font and these design modifications were completed by 1917. By 1919 the new bullseye design began appearing in publicity materials and, beginning in the early 1920s, it began to show up on station exterior signs and platform nameboards. A black and white photo of asample page of New Johnston font, designed by Eiichi Kono.The Johnston typeface was modernized for London Transit by Eiichi Kono in 1979 and this redesign of the Johnston font was named New Johnston to reflect its incorporation of all of Johnston's original core font design elements.

Edward Johnston resources
Edward Johnston the designer
Edward Johnston and Frank Pick
The Edward Johnston Foundation
The Johnston font
The London Underground roundel
Eiichi Kono about the New Johnston typeface
Writing and Illuminating, and Lettering by Edward Johnston

A monochrome illustration from ‘A History of the Art of Writing’ by William Albert Mason.The following are among the most important early reference books on calligraphy. The British Museum published a guide to the collection of manuscripts they had in 1906 (Guide to the Manuscripts, Autographs, Charters, Seals, Illuminations and Bindings Exhibited in the Department of Manuscripts and in the Grenville Library). At about the same time, John William Bradley (1830-1916) was publishing illustrated books on illuminating, its history and development. In 1907 the British Museum published an important series of four books titled Reproductions of Illuminated Manuscripts. Each book in this series included fifty loose collotype plates, i.e., mechanically printed photographic plates. In 1920 William Albert Mason published A History of the Art of Writing, a work of considerable scholarship dealing with the subject of picture writing in the Americas together with the growth of letter-form in Egypt, Phoenicia, Babylon, Assyria, Crete, Greece and Rome. This book should be of great interest for a study the formation of alphabets.

A color photo of a section of the portrait of Giorgio Giulio Clovio by El Greco about 1570 CE.A list of the works by John William Bradley
A Manual of Illumination on Paper and Vellum (1860)
A Dictionary of Miniaturists, Illuminators, Calligraphers, and Copyists (1889)
The Life and Works of Giorgio Giulio Clovio, Miniaturist, with Notices of His Contemporaries, and of the Art of Book Decoration in the Sixteenth Century (1891)
Historical Introduction to the Collection of Illuminated Letters and Borders in the National Art Library Victoria and Albert Museum (1901)
Illuminated Manuscripts (1909)

A black and white photo of Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie.With the development of photography and process reproduction the range of examples showing epigraphy and paleography (aka palaeography) has increased to a degree not even imagined during the early days of the century. In 1932 B. L. Ullman, aka Berthold Louis Ullman (1882-1965), of the University of Chicago published Ancient Writing and Its Influence, which brought the history of the alphabet more up to date and included observations on the Sinai stones. The Sinai stones are carved inscriptions in the Proto-Sinaitic script, one of two known similar and undeciphered scripts ancestral to nearly all modern alphabets. These inscriptions were found in a temple of Hathor in Serabit el-Khadim, an ancient mining area in the Sinai peninsula. They were discovered in 1904-05 by Flinders Petrie (1853-1942) and have been dated at 1500 BCE.

A color photo of pages from a facsimile of the Venice, 1524, edition of ‘La vera arte delo excellente scrivere de divese varie sorti de litere’ by Giovanni Antonio Tagliente.Professor Elias Avery Lowe (1879-1969) of Oxford, in his Handwriting chapter contribution to the book The Legacy of the Middle Ages (1926), edited by C. G. Crump and E. F. Jacob, made a major contribution to the history of written script. It he writes about the development of hand written script before the time of Charlemagne. This is an excellent essay, which should be read by all serious students of calligraphy. James Wardrop (1905-1957) of the Victoria and Albert Museum has also written a comparably useful essay Palatino and His Circle in Signature, No. 14, 1952. Giambattista Palatino was a 16th century Italian master of calligraphy. Wardrop is also noted for his book The Script of Humanism: Some Aspects of Humanistic Script, 1460-1560 (1963).

A color photo of the front cover of ‘L'Écriture Latine de la Capitale Romaine à la Minuscule’ by Jean Mallon.French scholarship just before World War II was very active in this subject area and actively published recently discovered material with facsimile photographic illustrations. A notable title from this period intensely active French paleographic research is the book L'Écriture Latine de la Capitale Romaine à la Minuscule (1939) by Jean Mallon (d. 1982). It deals with early specimens of the written lower case letter from a period even earlier than Sir Edward Maunde Thompson's great work.

A color photo of the Morgan verso or leaf with scenes from the life of King David from the Winchester Bible.A more recent work recommended for consideration by students of calligraphy and paleography is A Book of Scripts (1949) by Alfred John Fairbank (1895-1982). Fairbank was a noted British calligrapher and a strong advocate the italic hand (aka handwriting form or style) in the 20th century. He is also noted for both his active collecting of photostatic copies of examples of italic handwriting by 16th century Cambridge scholars and for founding the Society for Italic Handwriting. Fairbank's book is a outline survey of handwriting from the fourth to the twentieth centuries. Other recent work of note are the beautiful photographic reproductions of the detailed work of twelfth-century artists taken from the Winchester Bible by Walter Fraser Oakeshott (1903–1987) for his books Sigena: Romanesque Painting in Spain and the Winchester Bible Artists (1972) and The Two Winchester Bibles (1981).

A color photo of the front cover of ‘Lettering of Today’ by by Walter Ben Hunt and Edwin Cornelius Hunt.By 1930, interest in hand writing and lettering had increased to the point where it had become a subject in the training of Art Teachers. This training of this generation was provided by the immediate followers of the initial group who had dedicated their lives to its cause. Lettering of Today by Walter Ben Hunt and Edwin Cornelius Hunt, published in 1937, is a good comprehensive compilation of the work of this second generation of calligraphers and calligraphy advocates. Important relatively modern books on the development of alphabets worldwide have also been published David Diringer (1900-1975), an important scholar on the subject.

A black and white photo of Dr. David Diringer.A list of the works by David Diringer
The Alphabet: A Key to the History of Mankind (1948)
The Hand-Produced Book (1953)
The Story of the Aleph Beth (1958)
Writing: Its Origins and Early History (1962)
The Illuminated Book: Its History and Production (1967)
History of the Alphabet (1977)
The Book before Printing: Ancient, Medieval and Oriental (1982; previously published as The Hand-Produced Book)

As the art itself has progressed, so has the literature representing calligraphy. The aforementioned books are great historical references, but technical books that will walk you through the art of calligraphy are particularly easy to access.

Source: The Best Calligraphy Books by Jim Cox from Content for Reprint.

History Resources
Western Caligraphy
The Winchester Bible

Textual Resources
Ancient Writing and Its Influence by Berthold Louis Ullman (through page 101)
Correspondence of the family of Hatton, volume 1 edited by Sir Edward Maunde Thompson
Correspondence of the family of Hatton, volume 2 edited by Sir Edward Maunde Thompson
Guide to the Manuscripts, Autographs, Charters, Seals, Illuminatins and Bindings Exhibited in the Department of Manuscripts and in the Grenville Library (1906)
Handbook of Greek and Latin Palaeography by Sir Edward Maunde Thompson
Handwriting chapter by Elias Avery Lowe beginning page on 197 of The Legacy of the Middle Ages edited by C. G. Crump and E. F. Jacob
A History of the Art of Writing by William Albert Mason
Researches in Sinai by Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie
Shakespeare's Handwriting: A Study by Sir Edward Maunde Thompson

Biographical Resources
Edward Clodd at Wikipedia
Edward Clodd at
Giorgio Giulio Clovio
Sir Sydney Cockerell
David Diringer
Eric Gill
Elias Avery Lowe
Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie
Sir Walter Fraser Oakeshott
Sir Edward Maude Thompson
Berthold Louis Ullman
James Wardrop

Newer Article: The Tintin Movie Geared for Sucess with Jackson and Spielberg On Board


Older Article: Georges Herge Creator of Tintin, The Final Years

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Georges 'Hergé' Remi

Georges 'Hergé' Remi Creator of Tintin, The Final Years
by Holly Franklin with additional material by Steven Williams

The Hergé Studio was set up in April 1950 in order to lighten Hergé's workload after his second breakdown. He employed assistants such as the artist Bob de Moor to help produce The Adventures of Tintin. This was to be the case for the rest of the Tintin albums where assistants would fill in the details and backgrounds such as the lunar landscapes in Explorers on the Moon.

A black and white self-portrait caricature by Bob De Moor.

Bob de Moor (aka Robert Frans Marie De Moor, 1925-1992), studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium and made his comics debut with Bart, de Scheepsjongen (Bart, the Ship's Boy) published in De Kleine Zondagsvriend (The Little Friend Sunday) in 1945. His first album (i.e., book bound) edition was Le Mystère du Vieux Château Fort (The Mystery of the Old Castle), scripted by John van Looveren and published by Campéador in 1947. In 1949, De Moor was asked to join the magazine Kuifje (1946-1993), a Flemish (aka Belgium aka Belgian Dutch aka Belgian Standard Dutch) language magazine. Kuifje was the Flemish name for Tintin. Tintin's creator, Georges 'Hergé' Remi, was a French language speaking Belgian and from the initial creation of Tintin in 1929 until about 1946, Tintin comics had been published in the French language only.

A color photo of the front cover of issue number one of 'Tintin' magazine.With the startup of Tintin magazine in 1946, there was a need to bring in additional talent both to provide more material for the magazine and to reach the additional Belgium audience of Flemish speakers. Because there are cultural as well as language differences between French speaking and Flemish speaking Belgium, it was decided to create a separate magazine, Kuifje. This necessitated hiring a Flemish speaking editor-in-chief to manage Kuifje. The man chosen for this position was Karel Van Milleghem. He was almost uniquely suited to this position because he came from a flammingant (someone who strives to bring together the French and Dutch-speaking people in Belgium) background in addition to being young, intelligent, and immensely creative. It was Van Milleghem who brought De Moor, along with a group of other gifted young Flemish comic artists and writers, to Kuifje in 1949. It was also Van Milleghem who introduced De Moor to Remi in the same year. Almost from the beginning De Moor became a regular contributor to Kuifje magazine.

A color photo of the front cover of an early reprint edition of 'De Leeuw van Vlaanderen' by Bob De Moor.The year De Moor began his work at Kuifje he produced two of his artistically and culturally most important comics. The first was De Leeuw van Vlaanderen (The Lion of Flanders), not published in French until 1976 (Le Lion des Flandres). It was based on the life of Robert III (aka Robert of Bethune), Count of Flanders (1249-1322), a cultural symbol of Flemish nationalism. That same year De Moor also produced the equally notable comic De Kerels van Vlaanderen (The Guys of Flanders), not published in French until 1978 (Le Gars des Flandres). This was also based on an important event in Flemish national history, the Battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302 in which the French attempt to subdue Flanders was defeated.

A color photo of the front cover of the December 7th, 1950 'Tintin' magazine featuring Barelli in 'L´énigmatique monsieur Barelli' aka 'The Enigmatic Mr. Barelli' by Bob De Moor.Not long after his start in Kuifje, De Moor also started appearing in Tintin magazine (i.e., the French language version) where he initially launched the humor strips Bouboule et Noiraud (Fluffy Noiraud) and Professeur Troc (later renamed to Monsieur Tric). Encouraged by Remi, he also started his series Barelli featuring a young dramatic actor, comedian, and amateur detective. He also went on to illustrate Conrad le Hardi (Conrad the Bold) and create another series, Cori, le Moussaillon (Cori, the Ship's Boy).

A black and white photo of Edgar P. Jacobs aka Edgard Félix Pierre Jacobs.In 1950, De Moor made a professional move to the Hergé Studio. In his new position at Hergé, De Moor exploited his uncommonly gifted ability to adapt his style to match the style of other comic artists. This allowed him to seamlessly integrate his work with Remi's style. This lead to his quickly advancing to became one of Remi's most important assistants (read collaborators). Previous to De Moor and the creation of Hergé Studio, Remi had collaborated most closely with Edgar P. Jacobs (aka Edgard Félix Pierre Jacobs, 1904-1987) on the Tintin comics and Jacobs had functioned as a sort of 'first' assistant to Remi in their production. The two men's relationship became a little strained when Jacobs began to ask Remi for joint artistic credit for the Tintin series. Eventually, beginning in 1947, Jacobs began to work more independently from Remi, eventually producing his own Les Aventures de Blake et Mortimer (The Adventures of Blake and Mortimer) series for publication in Tintin magazine.

De Moor's particular ability to adapt his style to match that of Remi initially earned him the responsibility at Hergé Studio for filling in details and background on the Tintin comics. De Moor quickly found himself fitting into the sort of 'first' assistant position left vacant by Jacobs. With Remi's increasing confidence in De Moor, his assisting responsibilities broadened to include supervision of the secondary drawings of Tintin and his friends, re-styling of the first Tintin comics, and promotional art among other work there. De Moor remainded in his essential role at Hergé Studio until the death of Georges Remi and the closing of the studio in 1983. In addition to his direct work with Hergé Studio and the Tintin magazines, De Moor also participated in the making of the 1969 animated film Tintin et le Temple du Soleil based on the Tintin adventureLe Temple du Soleil (Prisoners of the Sun).

A color still from the 1969 animated film based on the Tintin book 'Le Temple du Soleil' aka 'Prisoners of the Sun'.

A color photo of the front cover of the 'The Calculus Affair'.Many believe the new set up allowed Hergé to craft some of his finest creations with The Calculus Affair produced in 1954 considered by many Hergé's most refined work. The drama in Hergé life was to continue however with his 25 year marriage to Germaine at breaking point after Hergé had fallen for a young artist who had recently joined his studio Fanny Vlaminck. Hergé was suffering strong recurring nightmares. He was advised by a psychoanalyst to give up working on Tintin. Hergé decided to the opposite and launched himself into Tintin in Tibet. This album was later to be described by Hergé as his favorite and can be interpreted as a voyage of self discovery not only for Tintin but Hergé too. Tintin in Tibet is certainly a powerful album in its creation.

A color photo of the front cover of the 'Tintin in Tibet'.Tintin in Tibet was published in the Tintin magazine from September 1958 to November 1959. The quest was a personal voyage for Tintin that reflected the very same journey that Hergé himself was experiencing. Tintin is in search of Chang Chong-Chen, the Chinese boy he befriended in the Blue Lotus. The adventure allowed Hergé to confront his nightmares by filling the book with severe alpine scenery, giving the adventure a commanding open setting. There are only three main characters in the book which was a marked difference to previous albums with Tintin, Captain Haddock and the Sherpa Tharkey involved in the search for Chang. The completion of the story was also a time when Hergé's emotional demons eased and the nightmares left him.

A color photo of the front cover of the 'The Castafiore Emerald'.Hergé was to write three more Tintin albums The Castafiore Emerald in 1961, Flight 714 in 1966 and Tintin and the Picaros in 1975. In this period as technology developed Hergé allowed experimentation into other media for his beloved Walloon reporter. Tintin was to be used in advertising and merchandise. There was a stop motion animation film made that was not a success but the film Tintin and the Golden Fleece Fleece starring Jean-Pierre Talbot as Tintin did better. The biggest successes were the animated films beginning in 1961 with The Calculus Case. Hergé was to divorce Germaine in 1975 and finally marry Fanny Vlamnick in 1977.

A color photo of the front cover of the 'The Blue Lotus'.Hergé in later years was to finally be able to visit some of the places that had inspired his Tintin adventures. The Financial success of the albums had allowed him to travel to America where he visited Native Indians whose culture had long held a fascination for him. He also found time to visit Taiwan where he was held in high esteem after The Blue Lotus and whose Kuomintang government welcomed him with open arms.

A black and white photo of Georges 'Hergé' Remi with Chang Chong-jen circa 1981.A happy tale towards the end of Hergé life was that he was able to again meet Chang Chong-jen the man who had taught him about Chinese art and inspired Hergé to change his style. Chang had been reduced to a sweeper during the Chinese Revolution but was re-instated as head of the Fine Art Academy in Shanghai in the 1970s. Chang returned to a reunion with Hergé in Europe in 1981 where Chang would settle in Paris until his death in 1988.

A color photo of the front cover of the book 'Tintin and Alph-Art'Hergé too was to die on March 3rd 1983 when he finally succumbed to complications arising from anemia caused by bone cancer that he had suffered for several years. Hergé was in the process of producing Tintin and the Alpha-Art. This adventure was never to be finished due to express wishes by Hergé that no Tintin album be published by any other artist. Tintin and the Alpha-Art was published as a series of sketches and notes in 1986. Fanny closed Hergé Studio in 1987 and The Hergé Foundation was set up in 1988 and the Tintin magazine discontinued.

Hergé is going to be very popular search topic as the Tintin movie draws near. Holly Franklin has been a big Tintin fan for a number of years. She is very much looking forward to the new Tintin movie trilogy due for release in 2009.

Article Source: Content for Reprint

Bob de Moor
Bob de Moor in the French edition of Tintin magazine
Bob de Moor covers for Tintin and Kuifje magazines
Edgar P. Jacobs at Wikipedia
The Adventures of Blake and Mortimer at Wikipedia
Les Aventures de Blake et Mortimer
The Secret of the Swordfish at Wikipedia
Raymond Leblanc interview
Franco-Belgian comics
The Ligne Claire comic style

Newer Article: Important Books in the History of Calligraphy


Older Article: Horse Racing in Literature

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Horse Racing

Horse Racing in Literature
Article provided by TRP Services and

color photograph of horse racingHorse racing, the second most-popular spectator sport in America, remains as vital as ever, but its age, high drama, and historical appeal as the "sport of kings" ensure that it also has a place in the history of literature. Countless writers have been drawn, in their search for subject matter, to the romance of the racetrack - the triumph and tragedy of equestrian life. It'd take the endurance of a draft-horse to compile a complete list of such novels - ex-thoroughbred-horse-racer-turned-mystery writer Dick Francis alone has written a small library of them - but here are some of the more important.

National Velvet starring Elizabeth Taylor DVD front coverNational Velvet (1935)
A classic of childrens' literature, this 1935 novel by Enid Bagnold tells the story of Velvet Brown, a working-class English teenager who unexpectedly realizes her dream of keeping and racing thoroughbred horses when a mysterious old man leaves her a racing horse in his will. A memorable film adaptation with Elizabeth Taylor, in 1944, helped ensure that young Velvet, along with her horse, became a symbol of female independence and strength long before GI Jane, Title IX or Sally Ride.

'The Reivers' by William Faulkner hardcover edition front coverThe Reivers (1962)
William Faulkner 's last novel - and his second Pulitzer Prize winner (after 1954 's A Fable)- a comic picaresque about an ill-fated road trip. Published in 1962, the novel concerns three young "er-do-wells from Yoknpatawpha County" the setting of so many Faulkner classics - who run away from home in a stolen car. They end up in 1900s-era Memphis, where they experience big-city life for the first time - and where one of them, without permission, trades away their car for a racehorse. Can he and Coppermine 's fast horse who doggedly prefers the middle of the pack - win enough money to get the three boys back home? Generations of readers have enjoyed Faulkner 's unusually straightforward handling of this suspenseful coming-of-age story, finding it a light but fitting conclusion to one of the greatest careers in American literary history.

Jeeves by Stephen Fry and Bertie Wooster by Hugh Laurie region 2 DVD complete series front coverBertie Wooster
The great comic novelist P.G. Wodehouse created many memorable characters, but none more so than Bertram Wilberforce Wooster, the preternaturally shallow minor aristocrat who features in over 50 of Wodehouse 's works. Like so many English gentry, Bertie (as his friends call him) has racing in the blood, having been middle-named in honor of a horse on whom his father once won a few pounds. The lovable, foppish Bertie falls into all sorts of mishaps, from which he is constantly extracted by his seemingly-omnipotent manservant Jeeves. Wooster can often be found at, near, or on the way to and from the racetrack, uttering phrases like "He once lost his shirt on Silly Billy" and "They had a dead cert for under 10 minutes."

'Troy' starring Bradd Pitt, Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom DVD front coverThe Iliad
Chariot-racing, one of the oldest forms of horse racing, appears in book XXIII of Homer 's Iliad, the great epic of the Trojan War. At this crucial point in the story, just after the death of Hector, Homer 's relentless narrative drive relaxes to allow Achilles, the poem 's hero, a moment in which to properly observe the death of his bosom friend Patroclus. The funeral games (a series of athletic contests which were part of the funerary rites of the period) take up most of the penultimate book of the Iliad, and encompass boxing, footracing, archery and the javelin, as well as a chariot race, won by Diomedes.

'Horse Heaven' by Jane Smiley hardcover front coverHorse Heaven (2000)
Hailed as "a big, ambitious book" by the New York Times, Jane Smiley 's sprawling ninth novel brings a number of plot lines together while maintaining a tight focus on the world of contemporary horse-racing. The best-selling author of A Thousand Acres (1991) told an interviewer that the idea for Horse Heaven occurred to her when "I was driving down the road listening to NPR, and I heard a commentator use the phrase "spit the bit" and I realized that there was a whole wonderful language to horse racing that was a novelist 's treasure."

'Ben-Hur' by Lew Wallace hardcover front coverBen-Hur (1880)
Lew Wallace 's 1880 novel quickly displaced Uncle Tom 's Cabin as the greatest American best-seller of the 19th century, and its blend of suspenseful storytelling, painstaking historical research and religious piety not only made it the first work of fiction ever to win a Pope 's blessing, but paved the way for American evangelicals - embrace of novel-reading as a valid, morally acceptable pastime. Set in the first century AD, the novel interweaves the story of Judah Ben-Hur, a Jew living under Roman oppression, Star Wars, The Phantom Menace soundtrack CD front coverwith that of another, more famous first-century Palestinian Jew - Jesus. A major plot point in the novel 's enormous narrative turns on an exciting chariot race that pits Ben-Hur against his Roman archrival, Massala. This scene became the centerpiece of the novel 's classic 1959 film adaptation - and that sequence, in turn, was cannibalized for the pod-race scene of the somewhat-less-classic Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999).

These literary representations are part of a tradition that continues today in thoroughbred horse racing. Whether you're a fan of horse racing gambling or just like the thrill of live horse racing, the sport is as full of drama and passion as any other. Tip services can help you maximize your enjoyment of thoroughbred horse racing by clarifying the details and letting you know who the favorites are.

color photograph of professional horse racing

Article Source: Content for Reprint

Newer Article: Georges Herge Creator of Tintin, The Final Years


Older Article: Melissa Marr, literary Goth writer of young adult fiction

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Melissa Marr

Melissa Marr, literary Goth writer of young adult fiction
by Steven Williams

A color photo of Melissa Marr circa Spring, 2009.Melissa Marr is an up and coming author currently writing fantasy horror fiction for young adults. After college and graduate school she taught both Literature and Gender Studies at the undergraduate level. Her earlier diverse work experience includes stints running a biker bar as well as working at an archaeological dig. She is also a rape survivor. Initially she began writing short fiction and poetry for various literary 'Zines in 2004 as an exploration of the possibilities open to her as a writer. In the end, she decided to concentrate on fiction. Wicked Lovely actually developed out of a short story she wrote in 2004. She reviewed the story about one year after its initial writing and still felt inspired by it and so she then went on to develop the story into a novel. The quality of her writing eventually earned her a contract with HarperCollins for three young adult fiction novels. With the success of Wicked Lovely and the good reviews for Ink Exchange, she entered into another contract with HarperCollins for three additional young adult novels.

A color photo of the front cover of the UK edition of 'Wicked Lovely' by Melissa Marr.Currently she envisions a cycle of sequels and related stories about related characters from her Faery universe to possibly expand to as many as ten books. As of Spring, 2008 her third novel, tentatively titled Enthralled (released as Fragile Eternity April, 2009), had been completed and was in the initial stages of the formal editing process. Marr attributes much of the inspiration for her novels to her reading young adult fiction with her daughter. She found that many of the fantasy books contained main characters that, whenever they were girls instead of boys, they were not active enough for her and her daughter's tastes. That and her attraction to the idea that interesting people she has met have usually 'danced to a different drum' giving her a push towards 'alt' (i.e., dark fantasy) stories. She currently lives in California with her spouse and two children.

A color photo of the front cover of 'The Lone Star Stores Reader' edited by Eric T. Martin.On Meeting the Surgeon (2004)
This is a poem by Marr that first appeared in the December 2004 issue (issue six) of Lone Star Stories, an online journal or 'Zine of speculative fiction and poetry. The poem was inspired by one of Marr’s friend’s encounter with breast cancer. She was able to overcome the disease and Marr reinterprets the resulting scars on her back as beautiful angel wings. These provide the basis for Marr to relate her friend's courage and strength.

A color photo of the front cover of 'The Book of Shadows, volume 1' edited by Angela Challis.Blessed Woman (2004)
Book of Shadows is an anthology of dark short fiction published in Australia in 2006 by Brimstone Press and drawn from the first six issues of Shadowed Realms online magazine plus a selection of original works produced specifically for the anthology. The collection's editor was Angela Challis and the word count for contributions was limited to 1,000, giving this type of short fiction the criteria for its publisher's designation as flash fiction. Marr's contribution was her short story Blessed Woman which was originally published in issue number two of Shadowed Realms (November-December 2004). The main character and narrator of this story is a woman who has unwillingly chosen being consumed from the inside in exchange for the pursuit of truth and knowledge.

A color photo of the front cover of 'Dreams and Nightmares' issue 71, May 2005.The Moment of Impact (2005)
A poem published in issue number seventy-one of Dreams and Nightmares magazine (May, 2005).

Fighting the Tide (2005)
A poem originally published in 'Star*Line volume 28, number 6. It was also re-published in The 2006 Rhysling Anthology (May, 2006), an anthology of eighty-eight poems, edited by Drew Morse.

A photo of the front cover of 'Flytrap' issue number 4, May 2005.The Art of Becoming (2005)
A poem by Marr published in Lone Star Stories April 2005 (issue eight). She has described as her allusion to Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. It this poem the narrator makes a foolish wish and so is cursed to live each night as herself but in the guise of a portrait of her in her youth and dancing at the same masque ball.

Pixie on a Pin (2005)
Pixie on a Pin is another of Marr's early published short fictions. It originally was published in Flytrap issue four (May, 2005), a 'Zine featuring fiction, poetry, automatic writing, reviews, essays, and related oddities that is published twice a year by Tropism Press.

A color photo of the front cover of 'Aoife's Kiss' issue 19 (volume 5 number 4).The Nostalgist (December, 2006)
A short story originally published in Aoife's Kiss issue nineteen (volume 5, number 4). Aoife's Kiss is a magazine of fantasy, science fiction, horror, sword and sorcery, and slipstream, published quarterly by Sam's Dot Publishing in March, June, September, and December. ‘Aoife's Kiss’ publishes short stories, poems, illustrations, articles, as well as movie, book, and chapbook reviews. Slipstream fiction is name commonly used to label a recently emerged genre of fiction that is best described as fantastic or non-realistic fiction that utilizes a blend of features from science fiction and/or fantasy genre fiction with aspects of mainstream literary fiction. Aífe or Aoife is a character from the Ulster (also called Red Branch) Cycle, one of the four great cycles of Irish mythology.

A color photo of the front cover of the US edition of 'Wicked Lovely' by Melissa Marr.Wicked Lovely (2007)
The story is set in a small suburban rust belt town and the main character is a young teenage girl with the unusual power to see faeries, and Marr's faeries are powerful and dangerous. The human girl has to carry on her normal life despite her friends' inability to see what is obvious to her while at the same time keeping her ability hidden from the faeries also. There is the danger that if the faeries realize that she has the Sight and can see them, they will blind her. Things become more complicated when she finds herself being pursued by one faery in particular. This faery is the Summer King and he is convinced that this human girl is the queen he has been seeking for the past nine hundred years. To complicate matters and increase the danger to the mortal girl, the Winter Queen, the Summer King's mother, knows that she will lose her power if her son actually finds his mate. Because of this she will do anything to prevent the match.

A color photo of the front cover of the US edition of 'Ink Exchange' by Melissa Marr.Ink Exchange (April, 2008)
In Marr's second novel, she develops on the background and motivations of one of her Faery characters from 'Wicked Lovely'. In it, the main human character is a girl whose life has seemingly fallen into chaos. Her mother has left town, her father has sunk into isolation and despair, and her brother deals drugs and actually sells her as a sexual favor to cover his drug debts. After suffering through a terrible trauma because of this, and as part of the process of her regaining her self-confidence about her control of her body, she decides to get a tattoo. When she visits a local tattoo artist, he shows her a secret book of his personal designs. She becomes obsessed with one of the designs, a pair of eyes framed by black wings. The new tattoo seems to be a good choice because, after she has it put on her back, she feels that nothing bad can touch her. What she does not know is that this new tattoo is the symbol of the Faery Irial, the king of the Faery ‘Dark Court’ and it actually binds her to him. It turns out that the tattoo artist actually has ties to the Faery 'Dark Court'. Irial's court is rife by intrigue and the girl’s connection to Irial makes her intimately involved in his fight for survival.

A color photo of the front cover of 'Love is Hell' edited by Farrin Jacobs.Love Is Hell (November, 2008)
As a contributor
A young adult dark fantasy short story anthology by the noted authors of young adult supernatural romantic thrillers Melissa Marr, Justine Larbalestier, Laurie Faria Stolarz, Scott Westerfeld, and Gabrielle Zevin. Marr's short story Love Struck reinterprets the folklore about Selkies, seal shape shifters. A male Selkie has been courting a human teenager, using his unusual powers of allure over humans to force her to date him. While walking along the beach soon after this involuntary courting has begun, the girl accidently steps on the pelt of this Selkie. Because of this, the Selkie comes under her power and falls in love with her instead. At first she is indifferent to the handsome Selkie but she eventually comes to love him also. Selkies, when trapped in their human form, never give up their longing for the sea. The climax to this story comes when the girl faces the dilemma of whether or not to free the Selkie she has grown to love.

A color photo of the poster for the French language version of 'The Secret of Roan Inish' directed by John Sayles.Selkies (also known as Silkes and Selchies) are mythological creatures appearing in Faroese (of the Faroe Islands halfway between Scotland and Iceland), Icelandic, Irish, and Scottish folktales. They can transform themselves from seals to humans. These folktales are believed to have originated in the Orkney Islands, an archipelago just of the northeast coast of Scotland. The best known contemporary version of the Silkie legend is its portrayal in the film The Secret of Roan Inish, a winner of a International Critics Award at the Gérardmer Film Festivals which is a French film festival celebrating that focuses on the fantastic film genre. Typically, if a human finds the skin of Selkie when the Selkie is out of in their human form, the Selkie is bound to the human unless they can get their seal skin back. Male Selkies are considered to be particularly handsome in their human form.

A color photo of the front cover of 'Magic or Madness' by Justine Larbalestier.Justine Larbalestier's Thinner Than Water is a story that reinterprets the folklore about Faeries. A modern teen is taken to live with her family to her family in a 'living history' village where her options are limited to either marriage or work in her family business. She wants more than this though but ends up falling for a handsome and possibly magical young man. Their lives together are good at first, but the young man, suspected of being a Faerie by the village is taken away. When a new husband is provided to her, the two acknowledge that they have no interest in each other but go ahead and conspire to leave the village together so that they can live their lives as they want. But a complication for the girl ensues when her love is threatened with torture by the villagers because he is a Faerie. Larbalestier is probably best known to teen readers for her Magic or Madness trilogy. The first novel in the series, Magic or Madness, won the Andre Norton Award and shortlisted for the Ethel Turner Award (a major New South Wales literary award), the Aurealis Award for best Australian YA book, and the Ditmar Award for best Science Fiction or Fantasy novel.

Laurie Faria Stolarz short story contribution is Sleeping with the Spirit. After a girl's family moves into a house where a boy was murdered, she finds her dreams invaded by the ghost of the murdered boy. Unexpectedly she finds herself falling in love with him. It also turns out that the spirit of the boy needs her help so he can 'cross over'. She discovers though that she will lose him forever if she helps with this. Stolarz has received recognition for the quality of her fiction by the American Library Association, beginning with her first series for teens, Blue is for Nightmares (2003).

A color photo of the front cover of 'Midnighters' by Scott Westerfeld.Scott Westerfeld's Stupid Perfect World is set in a future where teen bodies are regulated by the state. 'Hormonal balancers' tamp down teen emotions and 'bioframes' make sleep unnecessary and dreaming unheard of, all in an effort to keep passion and intensity from unbalancing this perfect world. It is believed that through this, society has been able to end starvation and disease. As aid to this engineered solution, all teens must take a class called Scarcity which is intended to teach them how bad the old world really was. In a two-week project for the class, a boy and a girl each decide to experience for themselves what things used to be like. The boy, after a reading of Hamlet, decides to try out sleep and see what it is like. The other stops taking her 'hormonal balancers' in order to experience real teen angst. Unexpectedly, the experiences of these two 'afflictions' have unintended consequences. Scott Westerfeld is best known to teen readers for his Midnighters trilogy and has also written a number of popular adult novels.

A color photo of the front cover of 'Elsewhere' by Gabrielle Zevin.Gabrielle Zevin's short story Fan Fictions about a high school who becomes so obsessed with the love story in a book she is reading that she begins to believe that it may (or may not) be about her. She is unhappy in school with no best friends and not dating. While she is at the library reading her book, she meets a handsome boy with unusual eyes. A romance develops but he is never seen but in the library or at her house. Her schoolmates and the adults around her are convinced she has an imaginary boyfriend. After overhearing a book group discussion about the novel she is reading, she realizes that somehow the main character from the book is very real. Zevin is a noted author of fiction for adults and teens and is best known to teens from her novels Elsewhere (2005) and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac (2007).

A color photo of the front cover of 'Fragile Eternity' by Melissa Marr.Fragile Eternity (April, 2009)
The third book in Marr's planned trilogy featuring the world of Fairie and humans as depicted first in Wicked Lovely and then followed by Ink Exchange. The story of Fragile Eternity is set in Huntsdale, a small city south of Pittsburgh where faeries and mortals intermingle with resulting chaos and conflict in the lives of both. Aislinn, who became the Faerie Summer Queen in Wicked Lovely, still has feelings for her former boyfriend, the mortal Seth. In addition to being a physical threat to Seth, she is also torn by her ties as Summer Queen to the Summer King Keenan. And Aislinn's attraction to Keenan seems to be no less strong than it is for Seth. Seth sets out in pursuit of a dangerous remedy to the lovers' predicament while at the same time, the never-ending plotting and scheming of Faerie court life increases the risks to all three.

A color photo of the front cover of 'Wicked Lovely Desert Tales, Sanctuary' by Melissa Marr.Wicked Lovely, Desert Tales, Volume 1: Sanctuary (April, 2009)
This is the first in a trilogy of magna books (Japanese style graphic novels) connected to the world of Marr's Wicked Lovely. The Desert Tales series looks at previous Winter Girls who have become free of the curse in the past. In this first installment, the main character is Rika, a former Winter Girl and what her life is like and the resulting complications that emerge because of her experiences. Rika has sought isolation in the desert, far away from the scheming of the Faerie Courts. She uses her ability to appear invisible to humans to protect her privacy and isolation, but then she meets an artistic young man. She decides that the last thing she wants to do is hide form him. Unfortunately, changes are coming to this desert sanctuary that threaten Rika's freedom.

A color photo of the front cover of 'Unbound'.Unbound (August, 2009)
As a contributor
A dark fantasy novella and short story anthology by the noted authors of supernatural romantic thrillers Melissa Marr, Jocelynn Drake, Jeaniene Frost, Kim Harrison, and Vicki Pettersson. Marr's story, Two Lines, is her first short story aimed at a broader adult audience It is a supernatural thriller about a young woman, Eavan, struggling to escape the supernatural fate that has enslaved her family. She knows that nice girls don't hunt but then a deadly alpha male sets out to ensnare her in the ultimate seduction. It all starts when a local drug dealer begins producing Haitian zombie powder and then using it to enslave women in order to sell them.

A color photo of the front cover of 'Nightwalker' by Jocelynn Drake.Jocelynn Drake's novella, The Dead, the Damned, and the Forgotten, is set in Savannah, where a strange murder turns out to be an important skirmish in the Dark Days battle between Naturi, a forgotten race of protectors of the Earth, and the Nightwalker, known to humans as Nosferatu, over the fate of the world. The death of a Nightwalker brings the balance between human and nightwalker into question when suspicion falls on Mira the Fire Starter, a suspect Nightwalker because of her ability to manipulate fire, usually a trait of the Naturi. She also just happens to be the last hope for the Nightwalkers. The Dead, the Damned, and the Forgotten is a prequel story to Drake's first novel Nightwalker (July, 2008) during the period when she is leading her more 'normal' life before Danaus shows up and their struggle with the Naturi begins.

A color photo of the front cover of 'One Foot in the Grave' by Jeaniene Frost.Jeaniene Frost sets her short story, Reckoning in New Orleans, where her recurring character, the immortal hit man known as Bones must face down the LaLauries, a husband-and-wife team of sadistic serial killers who also happen to be ghouls, and destroy them. At the same time that he is pursuing the killers, Bones is unaware that there is another undead hit man who is hunting him. This is a prequel story in the life of Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is set six months before he meets and becomes the lover of Cat Crawford, a half-vampire who, with Bones' help and training, progresses to becoming a government agent tasked with ridding the world of the rogue undead.

A color photo of the front cover of'Dead Witch Walking' by Kim Harrison.Ley Line Drifter, Kim Harrison's novella contribution to Unbound, is a Jenks (a pixy) and Bis (a gargoyle) adventure. The story is told form Jenk's point of view and is about their investigation of a haunting and their discovery that there is something at work there that is much greater than they ever expected. They end up trying to rescue an endangered innocent from a psychotic nymph with delusions of godhood. Harrison's characters Jenks and Bis are inhabitants of a universe in which an underground population of witches, vampires, werewolves, and other creatures of dreams and nightmares have been living hidden among humans for centuries. Everything changes when a genetically engineered virus wipes most of humanity. Harrison received a Romantic Times Award for Best Fantasy Novel for Dead Witch Walking (2004) as well as a PEARL Award (Paranormal Excellence Award for Romantic Literature) for Best Science Fiction Novel for The Good, the Bad, and the Undead (2005).

A color photo of the front cover of 'The Scent of Shadows' by Vicki Pettersson.Vicki Pettersson returns to Las Vegas in her short story Dark Matters. Secretly knows as Sin City, Las Vegas is actually the battleground on Earth in the war between the Agents of Light and Shadow, good and evil. Dark Matters is the about one man's fight for his soul. It is a prequel in the author's Sign of the Zodiac series. The story features JJ, a secondary character in the series, and provides much back story material related to Pettersson's fourth Sign of the Zodiac novel City of Souls. Dark Matters takes place three years before the setting of the Pettersson's first novel The Scent of Shadows.

Melissa Marr resources
Melissa Marr
Melissa Marr
Q & A with Melissa Marr
Wicked Lovely

Miscelaneous resources
Jocelynn Drake
Jeaniene Frost
Kim Harrison
Justine Larbalestier
Vicki Petterson
Vicki Pettersson
Laurie Faria Stolarz
Scott Westerfeld
Gabirelle Zevin
Gabrielle Zevin

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Older Article: Chris Grabenstein, whodunit mysteries, thrillers and young adult horror

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