By Stan Ashbee
Poe’s “The Raven,” Stoker’s “Dracula,” Shelly’s “Frankenstein,” and King’s “The Shining” are classic literary masterpieces of the horror kind.
Graphic artist and illustrator Steven Rhodes’ latest release and homage, “My Little Occult Book Club: A Creepy Collection” is fit for any home library in the thrills, chills, and slightly tongue-in-cheek section.
With designs such as “Let’s Summon Demons” and “Pyrokinesis For Beginners” fans would be forgiven for thinking the Brisbane, Australia-based artist has an affinity with the dark arts.
In truth, Rhodes’ iconic “Sinister Seventies” collection was born from his dual love of retro nostalgia and pitch-black humour, according to his official bio. His bestselling collections of shirts and merchandise are available in multiple retailers internationally, including Spencer’s, Hot Topic, and Spirit Halloween.
Macabre merch also includes fridge magnets, throw blankets, backpacks, coffee mugs, notebooks, and calendars. Of course, his unique creations are available online at http://www.stevenrhodes.com.au.
It is noted his brand new book is a hilarious collection of parody book covers for the aspiring occultist, exorcist, necromancer, and more — illustrated in his fan-favourite artistic twist on retro 1970s and 1980s children’s books. Humorous fake titles include “Sell Your Soul! (Economics for Children) and “Caring for Your Demon Cat.”
Rhodes said he’s been doing book cover parodies for a while now. The book is his take on a fake subscription catalogue. Do you fondly remember the Scholastic Book Club or the back pages of vintage comic books with mail order x-ray specs, invisible ink, mini-cameras, or fake fangs?
Surprisingly, Rhodes noted, Halloween isn’t celebrated in Australia the way it is in North America. So, he initially got his ideas from American movies and TV shows — where he took a very innocent nostalgic style and imagery and mixed it up with the darker horror themes, which is indeed perfect for the Halloween season.
“The style is really 1970s and early 1980s children’s book covers, board games, activities, and movie posters,” Rhodes pointed out. “Anything that was aimed at kids back in the day and putting a dark sarcastic twist on it.”
Typically, the way Rhodes works is, he draws everything on paper with just pens and all the final colouring is done digitally, he explained.
According to Rhodes, he’s actually quite the quiet guy, so he just let’s his work speak for itself — when asked if he will be promoting the new book and his current projects.
As for the future, Rhodes said he will continue to keep coming up with more designs. “Finding ways different designs can be used.”