The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror
by John Clute


Scope: project curator; cover and interior design
Published: 2006

The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror, by John Clute, is an in-depth and intelligent exploration of the fundamental motifs of modern horror literature. It was published by my now defunct art press Payseur & Schmidt in 2006.

I designed this project. Since the work was non-fiction and scholarly, I wanted to make sure that the end product would be as hip and desirable to all audiences, and not just get stuck in with all those other mostly-boring scholarly genre works. Especially because Clute is such an entertaining and important writer.

I decided that it would be exciting to cajole and persuade 30 different illustrators to create images for each of the motifs discussed in the volume. I came up with the initial list, which was for the most part artists within either the rock poster, alternative comics, or “low-brow” art communities (only one true genre illustrator – Jason Van Hollander – contributed to the project.) I sent out the ask to each of the illustrators and it was first come, first served. The illustrators picked whichever motif they wanted. There were only a handful of artists that declined, and I found more than enough talented illustrators to fill in. Each illustrator received the text for the specific motif that was chosen, and a final illustration size – that was it. What they came up with was entirely their own choice.

I decided on a small hardcover format, with an arresting image from Jason Van Hollander stamped in grey ink on the cover and the artist names stamped on the back. Instead of a dust jacket, the book featured a screen-printed sash with art by Adam Grano. 500 copies were printed, signed and numbered by the author.

In addition to the book, I created a companion postcard set: Postcards of Doom: A Journey From Affect to Vastation. A visual companion to John Clute's The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror, the set of thirty postcards features thirty illustrations by thirty artists and is housed in a deluxe die-cut box (which itself is illustrated by Adam Grano.)

Artists and motifs (for both book and postcard set):

Affect Horror – Steven Weissman 
Aftermath – Art Chantry
Answered Prayer – Chanda Helzer
Appointment in Samarra – Karen Kirchoff
Attempted Rescue – Jacob Covey
Bound Fantastic – Jay Ryan
Cloaca – Jessica Lynch
Dark Fantasy – Martin Ontiveros
Difficulty – Julie Murphy
Duende – Lesley Reppeteux
Equipoise – Kaela Graham
Followed – Little Friends of Printmaking
Free Fantastic – Shawn Wolfe
Full Horror Model – Andrio Abero
Fustian – Jason Van Hollander
Holocaust Fiction - Carson Ellis
Hook – Corey Lunn
Identity Loss – Jesse LeDoux
Infection – Jeff Kleinsmith
Motif of Harmful Sensation – Meg Hunt
Petrification – Guy Burwell          
Picture Books – S. Britt
Revel – Tara McPherson
Serpent's Egg – Diana Sudyka
Sighting – Dirk Fowler
Sleepwalking – Michael Michael Motorcycle
Strange Stories – Heiko Mueller
Thickening – Adam Grano
Twin – Jon Daly
Vastation – Mike King