Sunday, November 9, 2014

Hunter S. Thompson, The Curse of Lono (Artist's Proof from TASCHEN's signed and limited edition)

One of my favorite parts about writing this blog are the comments that crop up from posts I've made a while ago. In 2012 I featured my copy of Hunter S. Thompson's ultra-rare book Screwjack and people continue to find the page and chime in with some news about the Cyclops Owl on the book's cover (I learned this week that it was created by Thomas Benton, who did some other work for HST).

In the spirit of that Screwjack post I thought I'd feature another rare Thompson edition: this is German art-book publisher TASCHEN's 2005 edition of The Curse of Lono. This copy is an AP, limited to 150 copies worldwide, and signed by Thompson (full signature) and Ralph Steadman (with a little face).

Firstly, the book is enormous, about 17 1/2 inches tall and 13 inches wide. The book is housed in an orange slipcase, with a internal ribbon for sliding the book free.
The book is bound in beautifully printed linen, which gives Steadman's cover art a magisterial feel -- remember, this book was originally printed as a cheap little paperback original in the early 80s.


Here's a look at the signature page. Again, this is an AP (Artist's Proof), which means in addition to the print run of 1000, 150 were made for a more private distribution between publisher, author and artist.

 As expected, the book is lavishly illustrated with a bunch of double-page, full-bleed spreads. Here are a few for you:

In my opinion, one of the coolest things about this edition is how TASCHEN dealt with the sections of correspondence between Running Magazine and Thompson and between Thompson and Steadman. Instead of 'transcribing' these letters to the page (as they were in the Bantam 1983 edition), the letters are actually printed facsimile and tipped-in to the giant book. Take a look:

I remember trying to find one of my favorite passages and realizing its hidden away at the bottom of a letter here:

It's a queer life, for sure, but right now it's all I have. Last night, around midnight, I heard somebody scratching on the thatch and then a female voice whispered, "You knew it would be like this."

"That's right!" I shouted. "I love you!"

There was no reply. Only the sound of this vast and bottomless sea, which talks to me every night, and makes me smile in my sleep.


I think this is one of the most gorgeous literary collector's editions in my library, and it's one that means a lot to me as I consider Thompson's books as my gateway drug into book collecting. This is also one of the last editions that Thompson formally signed before his suicide. He died in February 2005, just a few months before this hit shelves. Fire in the Nuts also came out in 2004, but if my timeline is correct this was officially released after. The Curse of Lono originally listed for $300 and is now marked as "SOLD OUT" on TASCHEN's website with a price of $2000. Copies on eBay should be around $900-1200, though.
Before I close, a question for collectors and dealers that may have one of these. There are APs out there numbered out of 200: do you think this mean that there were actually 350 APs produced? Or perhaps an additional 50 were made after the 150? TASCHEN can be a little slippery with their editions...

Currently reading:
The Dog by Joseph O'Neill

Currently listening to:
  The National, "Trouble Will Find Me"

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