Coulthart, John

Tagged: Art

(1962-    ) UK artist, author, designer and illustrator, perhaps best known for his various collaboration with David Britton in the Lord Horror sequence, in which a savagely scatological black Alternate History of the twentieth century culminates in a World War Two dominated by Lord Horror, a grotesque Parody of the English traitor William Joyce (1906-1946), who was nicknamed Lord Haw-Haw. Not all the Lord Horror novels contain work by Coulthart [see entry on Britton for them], but his influence is strong in the two Graphic Novels created in co-ordination with the prose texts, Lord Horror: Hard Core Horror and Lord Horror: Reverbstorm [for individual titles see Checklist below]. The most concentrated access to Coulthart's quotation-drenched expressionist vision – with its echoes of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, its analogues with the work of H R Giger and the later Jake Tilson, and its sophisticated citing of many other artists – is probably Lord Horror: Reverbstorm (graph 2012), which assembles and augments the entire run of the series, which had been released in comic-book format. Though much of the surface execution of the work reflects the rhetoric and iconography of the underground comic of the 1970s and later, the heart of Lord Horror: Reverbstorm seems to reside in its toxically intimate conversation with earlier artists and writers (including James Joyce and Pablo Picasso) whose execution of the twentieth century in words and images could be understood as pointing to its sublimity and its horror. The pages move, and the characters depicted evolve and devolve (see Decadence; Devolution), through a slow-motion shuttlecocking between what is visible (see Fantastika; Horror in SF) and what is quoted out of the depths of that time. Lord Haw-Haw himself is the abiding impresario of the carnival.

Coulthart's work as an illustrator replicates, almost always in a modestly sanitized idiom, a central sense of the inner appallingness of the world. Conventional aspirations after being beauteous are not necessarily eschewed, and individual panels or covers can give straightforward aesthetic pleasure; but there is always a conspiratorial sense that what may not be seen is the true story. [JC]

John Coulthart

born England: 15 March 1962

died

works (selected)

series

Lord Horror: Hard Core Horror (Coulthart issues only)

Lord Horror: Reverbstorm

individual titles

links

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