Stanley C. Sargent was born and raised in Beavercreek, Ohio (suburb of Dayton). He then moved to San Francisco to be a hippie and find the freedom to be gay when he was seventeen. He has lived in San Francisco ever since, creating fiction and art in the horror, and more specifically, in the Mythos genre. His black and white work beckons back to the best of the old pulps, using a pointillism reminiscent of the best of Hannes Bok's work. Stan's art is creepy not only for its mood but also for the fantastic strangeness which the denizens of his illustrations portray.
Entirely self-trained, he sites the influence of the classic pulp masters Virgil Finlay and Hannes Bok (the latter being someone he relates to as Bok was also gay). Stan also lists the computer artist, Dan Ross, and The Lovecraft Tarot deck artist, Daryl Hutchinson, as contemporaries he admires.
Aside from pulp illustration, Stan looks to classic Mayan fine-line vase painting and other ancient styles for his inspiration. He explains, "I've been criticized for a 'comic' look that often pops up in my drawings (not my paintings much); I attribute that to the Mayan influence to a great degree. Very few people see the Mayan vase painting art (which I collect in book form), so it often startles them when I combine my imagery with some of the Mayan imagery."
When asked why he chose horror and the Cthulhu Mythos as a venue for his art, Stan confessed, "I want to do artwork that is bizarre, weird and . . . beautiful. Hopefully I can evoke a 'Wow!' at times with my work that more mundane scenes don't. As a lifelong Lovecraft fan, I'm a natural for horrific artwork." Stan laughs when he recalls his first attempts to sell his work. "About 26 years ago I had my first rejection for my artwork (rightfully so, I might add) and still have the personal note from the publisher -- August Derleth."
Stan's style has grown since then, showing great variety over the years. On this topic he shrugs philosophically, admitting, "I'm not very commercially-minded. I get a lot of criticism from other artists about having no permanent style, unlike, for instance, Allen Koszowski (who I admire). I love variation, challenge -- and I like to think variation keeps me from being stereotyped as an artist."
Refusing to be driven by economic necessity, Stan chooses his assignments carefully. "I don't really enjoy illustrating the work of other writers," he admits, "unless I really love the stories, so I could never do a lot of that kind of work. I enjoy painting with an air brush, but my current living situation prevents my doing that at present. I figure I'll just illustrate my own tales and special ones by others who ask, helping friends out who request drawings now and then." Such as covers for Peter Worthy's new UK magazine, Al-Azif.
If commercial success isn't the goal, then what does Stan want to achieve? "Actually, the art is secondary to my story writing. I say this only because I think the writing has a chance to last longer in the public eye. I get on a roll at times, however, like I am right now, when the art occupies me to the neglect of the writing, and that I have to watch as the writing is more important to me." Fortunately for his art fans, he has these lapses, enjoying the opportunity to illustrate his own forthcoming book, Qom-maq, Nightmare of Knossos and his good friend, Wilum Pugmire's forthcoming collection, Dreams of Lovecraftian Horror, both from Mythos Books.
In the matter of media and technique, Stan enjoys air brushing with acrylics for painting, and realizes there is much you simply cannot express in black and white only. "For some time what I've done the most of is little more than pen and ink work. It works well for low-budget horror publishers. I've done some ink wash work but it doesn't reproduce well cheaply, so I stay away from that." Stan plans to experiment with computer art next.
Initially Stan started his Mythos art career drawing Cthulhu. His first published art was "Cthulhu in R'lyeh" featured on the cover of Bob Price's Crypt of Cthulhu # 91. Stan slowed on that particular subject matter when he realized every other Mythos artist was doing the same. Despite the large number of monster artists, he admits to a surviving interest. "I am proud to say I own my grandfather's huge late 1800's Webster's Dictionary that not only has all the line drawings in the back that I can reference, but I recently discovered that it is the exact same edition Lovecraft used as inspiration for some of his marine monsters and others. It is always a great challenge to put an image to some of Lovecraft's beasties, and I especially enjoyed seeing some of the recently discovered drawings he did of his own monsters when I attended the last NecronomiCon in Providence."
Being a writer and an artist, Stan has a skill which some artists never perfect. He knows intimately the fine balance between illustrations that augment and those that reveal too much of a story. "I don't like to illustrate scenes from stories usually, but rather depict the mood of the story with maybe a couple characters or images derived from the tale." Whether drawing or writing, Stan Sargent continues to contribute fascinating and exotic examples of the best in Mythos art.
We are proud to present two pieces of Stan's forthcoming art in this issue of Nightscapes These two pieces will be appearing in the forthcoming print fanzine Al-Azif # 2. (Please press your browser's back button to return to the review section.)
Created: April 10, 1998