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Russian Editions

Introduction

Guy N. Smith collectors are generally aware of his history in Poland.

Put simply, when the Berlin Wall came down, folk behind the Iron Curtain discovered the existence of modern horror fiction and lapped it up. Phantom Press, based in Gdańsk, published a whole slew of Guy's books in 1991 and 1992, flooding the market with short, universally accessible horror novels and making Guy the year's best selling author in Poland.

Less well known is the fact that Phantom Press also publish books in Russia and followed up their Polish editions of Guy's works with some Russian ones too. Obviously these were fresh translations but they also had an odd mix of old and new covers.

Guy had mentioned rumours of Russian editions back at the time but nobody seemed to have any cover images or, indeed, copies. I tracked down a couple much later, in horrible quality images, but had little information to go on.

With the magic of the internet in 2016, I've managed to wander around the Russian corners of the web and track down some information. It helps to search for Guy's name in Cyrillic: Гай Н. Смит.

Phantom Press

I'm aware of five Phantom Press editions from Russia, listed below in alphabetical order of original titles:

Title Original Page Count Cover Artist Translator
Лагерь The Camp 208 pages Radosław Dylis M. Talson
Погребенные Entombed 200 pages L. Bagmet N. Mospanovoy
Остров The Island 159 pages Les Edwards M. Talson
Неофит The Neophyte 240 pages Radosław Dylis M. Talson
Змеи Snakes 160 pages Radosław Dylis M. Talson

However, beyond the information above, there's not a lot that's useful. Snakes may have been a 1991 release with Entombed published the following year, but I'm not sure if I can trust that information. I did find a mention that the latter had a 60,000 circulation.

Cover Art

I found the treatment of covers really interesting though.

Only one, Entombed, wasn't published in Poland so became an odd choice for the Russians. Artist L. Bagmet conjured up an intriguing cover full of menace with an oddly calm couple carefully looking the other way.

As you can see, it looks completely different from the other Phantom Press titles, not least because it has Phantom Press in Cyrillic instead of English at the bottom on the cover.

Three of the remaining four covers were painted by Radosław Dylis, who was responsible for many of the Polish covers. However only two are actually reused from their Polish equivalents:

One was The Camp. Dylis had taken a very different approach to the original artist and Phantom Press liked it enough to reuse it in Russia.

The other was The Neophyte. Similarly, he took a completely different approach to the original artist and, while his cover is one of my favourites from any of Guy's books, I really do wonder what the handkerchief over the head is about. It's a long while since I've read this one, but i don't remember that.

The Russian edition reuses the Polish artwork, apparently zoomed in just a little.

Snakes is the one that used different artwork, albeit by the same artist, and I really have no clue what the Russian edition is supposed to show us. The Polish cover features snakes, which you might think appropriate for a novel called Snakes. However, what is that on the Russian cover? An octopus with claws?

It seems odd that an artist who has already painted one appropriate cover for this book would go so wrong when asked to do it again. I can only guess that it was really painted for a different book entirely and borrowed when this Russian edition went to print.

That leaves The Island for Dylis's work. He painted the Polish cover but bizarrely that wasn't used for the Russian edition.

Instead, Phantom Press oddly chose to reuse a piece of artwork by Les Edwards that wasn't painted for a Guy N. Smith book but has now been used on two different ones!

Les Edwards and Swamp!

Les Edwards was originally commissioned by Sphere to paint a cover for a 1985 horror novel by Peter Tremayne (a frequent pseudonym of Peter Berresford Ellis, who's almost as prolific as Guy with almost 100 books to his name). It was called Swamp! and Sphere did use the artwork for its cover as intended. Here's the original art with that cover:

Phantom Press apparently 'borrowed it' and put it to use on the Polish edition of The Sucking Pit, then 'borrowed it' again to use on their Russian edition of The Island. I guess it sort of works as an image for both, but it does get confusing!

And that's it for the Phantom Press Russian editions, as far as the internet seems to be willing to share. However there's another, highly intriguing, book left.

Samizdat

This is the Russian edition of Accursed, which appears to be what the Russians call 'samizdat'. The modern translation is probably 'bootleg' but that doesn't quite cover the depth of the Russian word, as daring individuals put themselves at risk throughout the Soviet era to reproduce publications censored by the state, usually publishing and distributing them by hand.

As befits a samizdat edition, I can't find any mention of a publisher for this book, but it looks to be the most luxurious edition that I've seen for a Guy N. Smith work. The first image below is of the hardback edition, while the second is of the slipcase that it fits inside.

Please note that these are not pristine images. I had to use perspective tools in GIMP to make them look remotely right, but they're not quite as they should be. Here are the originals, along with some other shots of the book, shrunk down just a little from the source files at Fantlab.ru:


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