The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dennis Wheatley Bookplate by Frank C. Papé

(click for larger version)

I recently learned that one of my favorite illustrators, Frank C. Papé, did a bookplate for British Horror/Occult author Dennis Wheatley.

Papé did illustrations for a series of Bodley Head editions of allegorical fantasy writers; James Branch Cabell and Anatole France. The plates are vivid, bizarre and frequently use a pseudo-3D technique placing parallel action on different focal planes. To me he looks like a precursor of underground cartoonists Robert Williams and S. Clay Wilson.

I tracked the plate down and I'm very pleased with it. A jazz-age satyr smoking a cigarette with an iced bottle of Champers nearby, nudity, suggestive pagan imagery, a sacrilegious coda, all of my favorite things! Definitely one of the gems of my collection.

I haven't read Wheatley yet, but if his taste in bookplate artists--and the batshit crazy Hammer adaptation from 1968, Lost Continent--are indicators, I expect to enjoy his work.


j. Winkel said...

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Laurita said...

Very interesting blog!

Matthew Coniam said...

Thought you might be interested tto know that the plate depicts Wheatley himself on the right, and that the satyr on the left is a man called Eric Gordon-Tombe, from whom Wheatley absorbed much of his philosophy and literary knowledge, hence the pose of adulation. As well as an aesthete and decadent, Tombe was also a criminal and a conman, and was eventually murdered.
If you think you might like Wheatley's work as you say, by all means pop over to the Dennis Wheatley Project!