Book2 10

Cold Print (1985)

Ramsey Campbell is great. I don’t hear his name bandied about nearly enough, but he’s had a career full of some top shelf horror. I’ve enjoyed just about everything of his that I’ve read, which admittedly is only about a quarter of his output, but still: are a quarter of Stephen King’s books actually good?

Campbell started out writing Lovecraftian pastiches, publishing his first collection, The Inhabitant of the Lake (1964), with Arkham House at a very young age. I love his Mythos stuff, it is deeply weird, has nice flavors of British folk horror and displays a unique take on the cosmic. He kind of returns to the Lovecraft well periodically. Cold Print (1985) represents a collection of his best Mythos tales through 1984. It starts with some of the early Arkham classics, like “The Moon Lens” and “The Church in High Street,” which sketch out the borders of his fictional Severn Valley, a kind of English version of the Miskatonic River valley of Lovecraft’s Massachusetts. These are great, but feel removed from the reality of their times (not unlike HPL, honestly). The more recent tales, starting with “Cold Print,” remedy that with drugs, music culture, pornographic book stores and many other seedy elements of modern life.

Cold Print was illustrated by photographer J.K. Potter. I probably read this book for the first time around 93 and they still held up when most of them were collected in Potter’s first collection Horripilations (1995). Now? I dunno, these have a quality I enjoy, even if they seem increasingly quaint. That’s probably nostalgia’s lens, though, as I don’t really vibe on any of Potter’s work beyond 1995. That Y’Golonac illustration is a legit classic, though.

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