About the mouthful title: This title aims to convey the Corinthian’s premeditated actions and musings while remaining aligned with his darker, shadowy essence. This title conveys the deliberate, thoughtful nature of the Corinthian while also acknowledging his nightmarish qualities.
In Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman”, The Corinthian is a figment of Morpheus – the Dream Lord – imagination, made manifest. The Corinthian is a paradox – designed to be both charmingly persuasive and alarmingly dangerous. A literal walking nightmare.
Contextualising the Enigma: “The Sandman” and Neil Gaiman Before delving into the enigmatic being known as the Corinthian, it’s essential to introduce “The Sandman,” the comic book series from which he originates. Created by British author Neil Gaiman, “The Sandman” was first published in 1989 and quickly became a seminal work in the graphic novel genre. The series revolves around Dream, also known as Morpheus or Oneiros, who is one of the Endless—a group of powerful beings that exist beyond the realm of gods. Neil Gaiman’s storytelling fuses myth, fairy tale, and history, blending them seamlessly to construct a vivid, dream-like world. Within this complex narrative landscape, the Corinthian stands as one of the most memorable creations, embodying the darker aspects of dreams and the subconscious.
There is a bewitching sense of duality to The Corinthian that captivates and unnerves—quite the challenging subject for an A4-sized lino block carving. Boyd Holbrook’s recent portrayal of this iconic character in Netflix’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s legendary “The Sandman” captures the essence of the dandy yet menacing construct, breathing new life into what originated as ink on paper back in the late 1980s.
Artistic Conception: An Evocative Edition Variable My approach to capturing the Corinthian’s essence is through linoleum block printing (as you do). He emerges as an Edition Variable (EV)—a monoprint (oh alright you can refer to it as “á la poupee”) that is as unique as the character himself. Each pull from the hand-carved block unveils a different colour variant, thus making every print a stand-alone piece in a broader narrative.
The Nightmare’s Allure What makes the Corinthian so fascinating is his duality. At least, to me. On the one hand, he is portrayed as no less than a sophisticated intellectual, a creature of finesse. On the other, he is quite the embodiment of our darkest fears. This dual nature lends itself to a layered interpretation—each layer revealing more – yet concealing just as much. The complexity is only compounded when you consider his origins: sprung from the dream realm of Morpheus, he’s not just a nightmare but a thoughtful one, capable of calculated decisions that influence both dreamers and reality. He is rather insidious. But oh! The Charms!
Cloaked in an aura of debonair elegance, Boyd Holbrook as The Corinthian is as delightful to watch as he is unnerving. There is a magnetic pull when he enters a scene, and it’s hard to decide if you want to be charmed or take a cautious step back (IRL I’d probably leg it). The thing is …Holbrook doesn’t just play The Corinthian; he becomes him. And it’s this essence I aim to capture in my lino block carving.
An Interpretative Challenge OK it was a challenge. Why? The challenge lies in capturing this fluid complexity in a single piece of art. Printmaking, particularly the method of Edition Variable, grants this flexibility. Let me continue to put words into this idea: Each print becomes a dialogue between the medium and the message, between the audience and the artist. In every iteration, The Corinthian is revealed anew, and his multiple facets interact in a fresh ensemble of colour and form. This interaction reflects his eternal state of deliberation—a constant mental poise balanced on the knife-edge of allure and menace.
Read that again: Allure AND Menace.
I mean, what’s not to love? And simultaneously fear …?
(…As a side-note, there is a lot of Desire (Dream Lord’s of the Endless’ sibling) in The Corinthian, at least in his effect on the human drawn to him).
Capturing The Corinthian in a lino block carving is an artistic challenge that I relish. It’s not just a portrait, but a portrayal—a snapshot that seeks to capture the essence of this complex character. This carving is not a rushed affair. Just like fine wine, it requires time to mature. It is a long work-in-progress that I plan to invest considerable time in, aiming to do justice to this complex figure who has fascinated so many of us over the years. The block has been patiently waiting for me to return to it for over 8 months). And the name – oh the name – that encapsulates both his horrifying appearance and dream-like qualities, need to be well … evocative.
The Power of Printmaking Art has a way of transforming perceptions, and when applied to a character like the Corinthian, it transcends mere representation. It becomes an interpretative act that allows viewers to engage with the character in a tactile manner. The Corinthian isn’t just observed; he is experienced. Through the shifting colour palettes and variations of each print, he manifests differently for each observer, thereby rendering the art as mutable as the character it portrays. This is true for my interpretation of his character.
…Or maybe I need to get out more.
Conclusion The Corinthian defies easy categorisation. He is neither fully this nor completely that. He is an enigma that commands both our admiration and caution. Through the medium of linoleum block printing, I’ve attempted to provide a tangible interface for this complex character. By employing the Edition Variable technique, each print becomes a unique manifestation, enriching our collective understanding of this multi-layered being. Like the Corinthian himself, the art remains in perpetual flux—thoughtful, deliberate, and immeasurably complex.
This linoprint is debuting at the Yellow Edge Gallery in Gosport from 23rd – 29th Oct’s MAKE GHOUL EXHIBITION, curated by Kim Batterbury of SeaWeedK+M Studio. The month of writing is October – where veils are thinned and so on, sweeties, trick and/or treats etc.
Yellow Edge Gallery of Gosport is founded in 2019 and is one of Hampshire’s newest contemporary art galleries. Located at 107 Stoke Road, Gosport, PO12 1LR.