When is a Book a Piece of Art?

books 002Let’s face it…I spend a lot of money on books. With over 800 titles in my personal library, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t look upon my bookshelves and admire the beauty laid out upon the shelves. Like with any library, there many titles that I could easily pull out and get lost for an hour just paging through them, reading bits and pieces, taking in the glorious photos and illustrations. I’ve always considered that to be one of the joys of having a book collection. It’s like an open doorway to who knows where.

Most of the titles I have in my library are just standard reference books, filled with the knowledge that I know the author(s) spent a lot of time doing research and planning, even before they actually started putting pen to paper…or fingers to keyboard. I give a lot of credit to most authors that take the time and effort to go through all this work. I say “most authors” because I’ve run across a few other the years that need to double check some of their facts. But that is for another rant.

But there are some titles out there where the authors and publishers have gone far beyond being just a collection of opinions, facts, and photos, making it truly a work of art. Editions that can suck you in, even if it is just admiring the craftsmanship put into the book. From the design to the layout, it is an incredible journey you take once you pull it off your shelf. This physical medium is still a very important one, and one where I feel some of the beauty and charm of an actual book would be lost in the digital format. Especially the ones that seem to go above and beyond just publishing a book. They really do create a piece of art.

So I wanted to take a moment of your time to cover a few titles that I think fit into this category. I will say that some of these titles were a bit pricy when they first came out, and some go for even a higher price now. But there were a few of these that were pretty reasonably priced and are still accessible. Sure, they can still be a bit expensive, but we are talking about art here, right? And usually, at least in my experience, these kind of books never lose their value, In fact, the value tends to rise over the years. So if when you’re trying to justify the cost, think of it of an investment…that you can actually learn something from!

Thank you to the publishers for taking the time, the chance, the effort, and the money to put out such incredible books.

I’ve chosen a few titles that I’ve picked up over the years that I have always been impressed with their end product. I think these titles show that the creators of these volumes took great care in the design and creating it, making it very special and different than the other titles on the market, one that would stand out. And I think they did just that. So let’s get started.

beyondterrorcoverBeyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci by Stephen Thrower
Published by FAB Press, 1999. 312 pages.

Lucio Fulci is known in the horror genre because of the gore pictures he did in the late ’70s and early ’80s, even though series fans know he did much more than that, working in just about every genre out there. To those who weren’t aware of that (or those that do), but want to learn more about this Italian director, Stephen Thrower has given us an incredible volume on the films of Fulci. Chocked full of photos, both black and white and color, and packed full of information about the movies, you will find yourself not only wanting to seek out the titles you haven’t seen, but also wanting to re-watch the ones you have seen before.

And since this was published by FAB Press, it is their usual masterpiece of publishing. I’ve never seen anything FAB put out and wasn’t just beautiful to look at. This title was released in both a hardcover and softcover versions. These used to be pretty tough to find and very expensive. But FAB just released a second printing, so you can still manage to pick up a hardcover version for around $65.

beyondterror1 beyondterror2 beyondterror3 beyondterror4fridaybookcoverCrystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th by Peter M. Bracke
Published by Titan Books, 2006. 320 pages.

Okay, you can’t be a serious Friday the 13th fan not have this book in your collection, or you’re just not trying hard enough. Seriously.

It is amazing volume of facts and information about one of the longest running horror film series in history. Bracke spent hours upon hours interviewing so many people involved with the making of these films, and their thoughts and insights are throughout the book. You get to hear directly from the people that were there, from the actors, writers, directors, and more. You hear plenty of behind the scene tales, the trials of independent filmmaking, and what it was like to be in a movie with the immortal Jason, or more importantly, what it was like to be KILLED by Jason.

The book is also filled with photos, from the movies, from the sets, which really make this volume such a joy to page through. Though the retail price has gone up to $50, you can still find them much cheaper, you just need to do some searching. But even at $50, this is one hell of a deal for what you’re getting. Honestly, for fans of this series, you couldn’t ask for more of a complete history (up until its publication, that is) of this long lasting series.

fridaybook4fridaybook3fridaybook2fridaybook1Hhammerlegacycoverammer’s Film Legacy by Wayne Kinsey
Published by Peveril, 2014. 408 pages.

Across the pond, Wayne Kinsey is THE man when it comes to all things Hammer. He has written several books on the subject, such as Hammer Films: The Bray Studio Years, Hammer Films: The Elstree Studio Years, Hammer Films: The Unsung Heroes, as well as putting out a stellar magazine back in the ’90s called The House that Hammer Built. In other words, he knows his stuff. Along with Steve Kirkham, Kinsey started up Peveril Publishing to produce high quality books at affordable prices for fans of the fantastic genre. Well, not sure if I would use “affordable”, especially when trying to buy them in the US, but after getting a few of their publications, I do have to say they are worth every penny. This massive hardcover edition is a prime example.

Hammer’s Film Legacy is a oversized edition that covers all of the Hammer films from Quatermass Xperiment to To the Devil a Daughter, and with photos galore, both in black and white and color, from poster art, promotional material and stills, and much more. Plus, there is just loads of information about the making up these films that we love so much. Kinsey really packs this book full of interesting facts that not only make this such a joy to read through, but you just might learn quite a bit about the Studio that Dripped Blood as well.

The problem is that since this was a limited edition, they are already sold out. I’m sure they will show up on the secondary market at some point, but with probably a much higher price. I guess my point is that when having the chance to order a title like this, you might want to bite the bullet and do it, rather than regret it, or pay an highly inflated price later. Life lessons here, people. See our next entry for a perfect example of that.
hammerlegacy1hammerlegacy3Hammerlegacy2bavabookcoverMario Bava: All The Colors of the Dark by Tim Lucas
Published by Video Watchdog, 2007. 1128 pages.

Okay…can’t really talk about books being a work of art and not talk about Lucas’ massive tome on Mario Bava. This title had been “in the making” for years and years, but it finally came to be. Shortly before it was going to finally come out, Video Watchdog sent out a final notice for pre-orders, saying that if you ordered it now, the price would only be $130 plus free shipping. Once it was actually out, then the price would go up to I believe $260 plus postage. As much as I hated to drop that kind of money, I knew that if I didn’t then, I would never be able to convince myself to spend the $250+ for a book. So I ordered it. And not once I have I ever regretted it.

Once the package came, after helping the mail man carry it to the door, I was blown away by not only the look of it, but also the size. Filled with tons of glorious photos, really showing off Bava’s talented work, not to mention all the information we get here, coming from the biggest Mario Bava scholar here in the states, this simply is an incredible piece of work. I guess my only complaint would be that it should have come with a digital format option just so it would be easy to read! Busting out this bad boy, you almost need one of those book holders you see in church! “Today, we will be reading from the book of Lisa and the Devil…” Well…it would happen in MY church!

But even with this high cost, Lucas made sure that it was going to be worth it, from the wonderful color images of poster art, film stills, and so much more, it really is a book that you can get lost in. I mean, this thing weighs a ton! Sure the price might be high, but at least you’re getting one mamoth size of a book!

While this title is out of print, you can still find copies though you are going to pay through the nose for them. I’ve seen them listed for close to $1000, but I think it you do enough digging, you can find one close to the published price.
bavabook1bavabook2bavabook3bavabook4bavabook5naschybookcoverMuchas Gracias Senor Lobo by Thorsten Benzel
Published by Creepy Images, 2012. 392 pages.

Back in 2006, Benzel released the first version of this book, a slightly oversized paperback size book, filled with images of movie memorabilia from the films of Paul Naschy. It was a real treat, even if the text wasn’t in English. But the problem was that the images were in black and white. So as cool as it was to see some of these rare posters, it just wasn’t the same.

But flash forward 6 years, and now Benzel gone and blown that originally edition out of the water. In this new amazing hardcover edition, he not only went back and put all the images from the previous version now in glorious color, but he also added even more images! Plus, this edition has text in both German and English. From posters, to lobby cards, press material, everything that Benzel has in his own personal collection, or images that were donated for the book, all in color (except of course, black and white stills and such). The material spans from all over the countries as well. You get to see posters from Spain, Italian fotobuste and 2-sheets, American posters, Mexican lobby cards, and so much more.

Being a huge Naschy fan myself, as well as a poster collector, words cannot express the joy and entertainment I have gotten from looking through this book. I loved going through this and seeing the pieces that I already owned, but also seeing quite a few that I now needed to add to my Naschy collection! This book does a fabulous job of showing what poster art used to be, when it was created by hand and brush, instead of a computer mouse. Unfortunately a much different era, but one that I hope comes back

While the initial price of I believe $75 has gone up a bit, you should still be able to find these still around for under $100.

naschybook1 naschybook2 naschybook3 naschybook4 Alien Vault & Terminator Vault by Ian Nathan
Published by Voyageur Press, 2011 & 2013. 175 pages each.

alienvaultcoverterminatorvaultcover

Remember those books when we were a kid, that had all those little pockets with some hidden little treasure, or a fold-out section, giving the reader a little surprise here and there? Well, Ian Nathan and Voyageur Press have created some unbelievable editions that have captured those feelings, except these are about a couple movies that we love. If there was ever a book series that is so much fun just to page through that almost has an interaction with, these are it. Not only do we have plenty of information about the subject at hand, but the little added bonuses are the real treat here. For example, in the Alien Vault, which really just covers the first film, though there is a little bit at the end about the rest of the series. But inside the hardcover slipcase, there’s some storyboard reproductions, diagram plans of the Nostromo, a page from the script with notes on it, pull out mini-posters, and more, all kept within little plastic sleeves throughout the book. The Terminator Vault, which mainly covers the first two films in the series, also has some production sketches, storyboards, and even has a photo reproduction of the famous Polaroid of Sarah Connor that is taken at the end of the first movie. I thought that was a nice tough and a very cool addition.

Going through these titles really will make you feel like a little kid again, pullling out these little surprises, but then be in awe of the technical information presented. Not only does these show the talent when into making these, but also the imaginative genius that went into making those films. I love the fact that it spotlights that talent, of the storyboard artists, the production designers, and all the rest of the crews that usually get left out of the spotlight. So kudos to Nathan and Voyageur for doing just that.

Both of these editions first retailed for $40 each, but I have seen them for much lower, such as discount book stores, if you can find them. They do seem to disappear pretty quickly.

alienvault1 alienvault2 alienvault3 alienvault4 alienvault5terminatorvault1 terminatorvault2 terminatorvault3 terminatorvault4

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