Fanged screaming skulls licking at their featureless face, grotesque terrifying creatures from beyond our dimension, a clown smiling above the door to its ominous fairground entertainment and a sea of flesh eating rats offering no escape.
These were the images I saw staring back at me from a book shelf, not from a specialist merchant of the macabre but a WH Smith’s at Manchester airport. When I was a kid, before I discovered home entertainment consoles, I used to read, a lot, and my preferred genre of choice was horror. I found the endless number of titles with their disturbing, grizzly covers to be impossible to avoid and by the amount that stockists housed i clearly wasn’t in the minority. Authors like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, James Herbert, Anne Rice and Brian Lumley were „must reads“ and the covers didn’t disguise what genre they belonged to.
In the 80s/90s These books and the covers on display at independent video stores were the defining contributor to making me a lifelong obsessive of the horror genre and artist of horror, myself. Today physical bookstores have a very different approach to the horror genre (which I have ranted at in the past). With a few exceptions mainsteam publishers are resistant to wearing its horror pridefully on its sleeve (jacket?). Even masters of horror like Stephen King have their titles look inoffensive and generic compared to the beautiful art that helped build his status in the first place. An author who has managed to remain above that is Ramsey Campbell.
Ramsey Campbell is the worlds must decorated horror author who’s work spans over five decades, with more than 30 novels and countless short stories and articles under his belt.
His original titles like 'The Doll who Ate his Mother', 'The Parasite' and 'The Nameless' have some of the most unique and recognisable interpretations while more modern titles have artists like J.K Potter and dedicated genre publishers like PS Publishing keeping his brand and titles clearly for the fans.
Ramsey Campbell is a British treasure but also a much loved regional one within Merseyside. After spending most of my adult life in Liverpool it was impossible to avoid his name in conversations as being a major influence on literary horror fans.
I've been aware of many of Ramsey's titles because of some of the most iconic images and title treatments on his classic paperbacks. Of my favourites were a number of covers for 'The Doll Who Ate His Mother'. The first cover I became aware of was Jill Bauman's artwork depicting a pair of eyes peering through a broken statue. The second that I was aware of was an evil eyed baby with red eyes bursting through a hole on the cover: pure horror paperback gold.
Years later I had amassed a hefty collection of horror titles many of which were written by Campbell. When PS Publishing contacted me to do a cover for the anniversary edition of CERTAINLY (Campbell's follow up to his collection of articles PROBABLY) I was thrilled to say the least. I was informed that to keep with the brand of Campbell's previous title, I needed to incorporate a portrait but other than that there was a lot of freedom. With the title of CERTAINLY I liked the idea of destiny and a predicted future. I wanted to create an illustration showcasing Ramsey Campbell predicting the world of his work like 'These are things that will be'. I felt there was no better way to do this than to have a young Ramsey Campbell surrounded by his creations as represented by the multiple creatures brought to life on his many book covers (many of which I owned). I wanted there to be a sea of elements that highlighted great titles in his career that long time collectors of his work could appreciate.
It wasn't hard finding the most essential moments. Early photographs of Ramsey posing in front of a broken angel statue became a recurring theme, The Mother-Eating Doll that featured on the iconic cover as well as the Lizard from Cold Print. The knife wielding killer from The Face That Must Die and the burning girl from The Nameless covers were finally united under the Hungry Moon and the shadow of Gla'aki (Campbell's authorised extension to the Cthulhu mythos).
I wanted to make the cover as comprehensive as possible and the definitive homage to an amazing, colourful, literary career. I was super with all my inclusions however if I had one disappointment it was that I couldn't find a way to include The Overnight, a novel centred around an ominous bookstore called TEXTS.
Thankfully PS Publishing were planning a beautifully elaborate slipcase edition which requires some nice endpapers. This meant providing a double page spread within the hardback pages.
I decided to dedicate both pages to create a panoramic of the TEXTS bookshop with more references to the creatures on the front cover with the addition of a few that didn't make the cut including some more references to Ramsey's Cthulhu mythos as well as a bonus Necronomicon. I used a large number of reference of pretty cool bookstores including my favourite book labyrinth in Llangollen.
PS Publishing are accepting preorders for Certainly including the beautiful hardback slipcase edition. I highly recommend it not only for the great content by Ramsey himself but for the amount of love and attention put into this edition. Click here to preorder yours now.