FORGOTTEN BOOK: ARTS UNKNOWN: The Life and Art of Lee Brown Coye by Luis Ortiz, 2005
This is the 115th in my series of Forgotten Books.
As many of you know I have sold books with Willie Siros for more than 30 years. He really knows what I like and I have a pretty fair idea of the things he cares for. So when I ship him off to Chicago for the World Science Fiction Convention, I expect to see some wonderful things come back my direction.
I visited with Willie last weekend and perused the loot he had acquired. The first thing I grabbed was a wonderful biography and retrospective of the artist Lee Brown Coye. Many of you will be going “Who!” and while it is good to get your owl impersonation merit badge, it does not bring you closer to an answer.
I first encountered the work of Coye when I began picking up the works of Lovecraft in the initial uniform Arkham House editions. The cover to DAGON and Other Stories features a Coye work. Not one of my favorites, but then I saw the original hardcover edition of TALES OF THE CTHULHU MYTHOS. As you know from my recent film reviews, I am a Cthulhu fan. This cover blew me away in the early 70’s. It was primitive, inbred and grotesque just like many of HPL’s characters. Other works began to show up with his work and I became a fan.
It was Bill Wallace who convinced me to fork over the money and preorder WORSE THINGS WAITING, a collection of Manley Wade Wellman tales that Arkham House had advertised for years and which Karl Edward Wagner, David Drake and someone else I have forgotten published through Carcosa Press. This was a beautiful book filled with wondrous stories and the most twisted art this side of an unholy mating of Grandma Moses and Gustave Dore. The preordered copies came with a bookplate signed by Wellman and Coye. Carcosa later did a Hugh B. Cave collection called MURGUNSTRUMM and Others. Even more twisted art filled this volume. Again it came with the bookplate and signatures. After the 1997 World Science Fiction Convention in San Antonio I purchased the art for the MURGUNSTRUMM bookplate from Robert Weinberg. It hangs in a bedroom where I am sure visitors have pleasant dreams.
Anyway, this was a fun book to read. Luis Ortiz of Nonstop Press has put together a good history of Coye and his career as an artist which had ups and downs as you would expect and has brought together some great pieces of Coye’s art.
I have posted a few pieces, more representative of the Coye work I like. As I have said before, your mileage may vary. Check it out.
Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.