Review by Trevor Kennedy for Phantasmagoria Magazine.
The Fantastical Art of Jim Pitts is a bumper hardback dedicated to the life works so far of the man of the title, one of the great fantasy artists of our time. On top of that, it also serves as a history of sorts of the much esteemed British Fantasy Society (and related publications) and the early days of these guys at the forefront of the movement, highlighting their good times, and quite often difficulties, over the last almost half a century. Jim Pitts and his exquisitely detailed artworks are our guides through this fascinating and hugely important period for the UK fantasy/horror scene. And I loved every single page of it!
Jim’s life, from his working class Northern English beginnings and folk band days with ‘The Jim Pitts Folk Quartet’ to the present day, is chronicled over 212 pages alongside a bonanza of his macabre works and written contributions from BFS stalwarts such as David A. Riley, David A. Sutton, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Jones, Brian Lumley, Adrian Cole, Peter Coleborn and more, fascinating real life stories concerning what really must have been a golden era for these pioneers, especially in the 1970s and ‘80s. Reading about the difficulties they faced back then just made me realise how lucky wannabe publishers/writers like myself get it these days. My first job when I left school was with a printing firm, so I know only too well how expensive lithographic printing was, and probably still is.
On the subject of Jim’s artwork itself, firstly I must state that I am no art expert, especially from a technical viewpoint. But for me, as a layman, I found his numerous pieces included on the pages to be brilliantly atmospheric, haunting and Lovecraftian. I particularly enjoyed his representations of certain M.R. James’ stories, some of his Cthulhu mythos-based creations, his cracking portrait of Vincent Price in Witchfinder General, along with a classic Universal monster or two. On a personal level, Jim’s artwork also brought with it warm feelings of nostalgia for my own childhood when I would have read some of the various publications referenced, including Fantasy Tales and the B.F.S. Bulletins, mailed to me in the 1980s by my then pen-pal cousin Dave Carson, another fantasy artist also mentioned in the book and associate of Jim and the aforementioned contributors. For me to now be just a small part of this scene is the greatest of personal honours.
This is a very special book for many reasons, so if you have even a passing interest in fantasy artwork (especially that of Jim Pitts obviously) or the recent history of the UK weird fiction scene, then you really need to grab a copy for yourself as soon as humanly possible!
A limited number of 250 signed copies of The Fantastical Art of Jim Pitts have been published by Parallel Universe Publications. If you are interested in acquiring a copy you can contact them through the following:
Parallel Universe Publications
David A. Riley; Linden Riley
Head Office: 130 Union Road, Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, BB5 3DR, UK.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
A future issue of Phantasmagoria Magazine (number 10, late May 2019) will feature interviews with Jim Pitts, David A. Riley and David A. Sutton.
To order a copy click on this link Order The Fantastical Art of Jim Pitts