Artful Conceptions #19

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then horror illustrators are the biggest flatterers of any genre - especially when it comes to European horror.  Every time I see a foreign horror novel I get a feeling of déjà vu. A feeling that I've seen that cover somewhere before. Indeed, it's so common I've seen a few sites devoted to cataloging the repetitions.

Well, this fits nicely into our Artful Conceptions category where we track repeated patterns in pop culture imagery.  Let's look at a few examples...

You'll note that these are not the same book.  It's totally different authors and different stories.

Could somebody out there identify this face?  It looks a lot like the Phantom of the Opera (the Lon Chaney version), but I believe the original conception comes from The Picture of Dorian Grey.

Perhaps the most disturbing horror concept is the one of the victim on her back at the mercy of some evil force.  This one could go on for days, there's so many examples.

But what could be more definitive horror than the "hands emerging from the grave"?  This surely deserves a post unto itself one day.


  1. Nice piece of er, scholarship. Reminds me of the "Groovy Age of Horror" site. How about a Miniskirt Friday now?
    I see the nipples are present only on the foreign titles. Because I looked for them, as only a true scholar can.

  2. Some of these aren't "imitation" so much as the artist selling the same artwork to multiple outlets. Sometimes art directors will flip or reverse the image or manipulate the color to fit their own tastes or the needs of the publication.

  3. I believe the Dorian Grey image originated from a '50s/early '60s TV production; I recall seeing it in a Famous Monsters of Filmland issue, perhaps as an unused makeup concept by Dick Smith for the program.

  4. That ghastly face is indeed from the 1961 production of "The Picture of Dorian Gray". Conceived by make up effects master Dick Smith. There's a great color pic of the original sculpture here:

  5. Great work! I've often wondered why this kind of thing is seen more in European paperbacks than in US ones. The metal band Obituary used Michael Whelan's famous art for Lovecraft '80s paperbacks: