For many years now I have been obsessed with the sublimely ridiculous cover art for ‘Geisterjäger John Sinclair’ (Ghosthunter John Sinclair), a pulpy German horror detective fiction series wherein Sinclair, a Scotland Yard chief inspector, tirelessly battles all kinds of undead and demonic creatures. Apparently, he is the reborn soul of both King Solomon and Knight Templar Hector de Valois. Wow!
These covers feature all manner of bizarre and tawdry evils, from vampire nightclubs to skydiving ghouls to horror discos–and it turns out that the artist responsible for some of my freaky favorites is Catalan painter and illustrator Vicenç Badalona Ballester (1929-2014.) From 1973 until his retirement in 2007, Ballestar produced an incredible number of covers for these books — nearly 1,000!! — and later went into fine art, where via his published books he became a renowned instructor of watercolor techniques.
A brief article over at Frieze from 2013 sums up his style pretty well:
“Aesthetically speaking, the world that Ballestar created for the duration of his career belonged to the 1970s and early ’80s. His paintings are populated by figures that could have stepped out of an advertisement from the era, if their faces weren’t etched with fear at the horrors they confront. With his broad palette and use of light, Ballestar derived a garish Pop pleasure from sinister darkness in a way previously found only in Roger Corman’s legendary Edgar Allan Poe films starring Vincent Price, where terror joined forces with Technicolor.”
I’ll confess, I have never read a single John Sinclair story. I almost can’t bear to. What if they are not as much fun as the cover art? But when I am feeling down or bummed out, I treat myself to translations to the various synopses for the stories, and their garbled silliness never fails to make me laugh:
“He was a legend of evil. No one knew if he really died or just lost. Most of Kansas residents just wanted to forget about him anyway. But as twelve tourists simply disappeared, he was remembered again. Suddenly fear passed away, and one sentence went round: ‘Sheriff death is back… “
“When Mike Prentiss and Cindy Mallory are just on their way home from the old castle disco, they pass by a closed cemetery.” Mike finally persuades his girlfriend to follow him to enjoy the togetherness there a little more uninterrupted. But for a long time, the silence on the ancient God’s sucker does not last, because suddenly the two of them are attacked with a sharp knife by a spritual woman… “
Anyway, as usual, this post is just an excuse to show off some favorites from an artist whose works I dig. Enjoy!
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