Sunday, August 16, 2015

Mystery Tome

I recently received an email concerning a mystery tome purchased on Ebay.

I found a very intriguing iteration of The Necronomicon on eBay that I bought for $30. The seller had zero information concerning it's origins. I checked your blog and I do not think it is on there. I've taken two crappy pictures, and I would be very grateful if you could look at them and tell me if they seem familiar. If it helps, the strap seems like it was replaced, and it has around 100 pages of Latin-y text and a few images inside, seems to have been created in Microsoft Word or something.

That was a heck of a deal.  That tome in question is the work of the infamous Richard Poppe, a very talented sculptor and propmaker.  Sadly, his business acumen, not to mention his sense of ethics, wasn't nearly as developed as his artistic skills.   According to multiple former clients he ripped them off for thousands of dollars selling items he didn't actually have.  No one has heard from him in years, and his current whereabouts are unknown.


CoastConFan said...

You need only go to his site to read his bio and see the tome in question

In fact here is a Propnomicon post about Poppe, make sure you read the comments.

Raven said...

CCF: Even three of the last five comments on Poppe's own page (archived) complain of his dishonesty.

My goodness, how much more money he could have made honestly selling good quality repros of such fine designs! It almost seems as though there were some fatal flaw involved, as with another Richard in Lovecraft's tales, Richard Upton Pickman who got too involved with his ghoulish models....

RobertG22 said...

Apparently I am quite the lucky dog, to not only have it at the price I paid, but to have it period. Very sad that this person is this talented but is not such a nice person. I'm shocked no one tried to bid on it but me. Perhaps just seeing it gave people a bad taste in their mouths?

Raven said...

Also two other such warning comments on the page welcoming Poppe to the Temple of Dagon (which is/was, by the way, not "his site" as phrased in first comment above).

Again, the link is archival, 2014, I have no idea when or if the site will revive.

rygD Unofloas said...

I was one of the people he nearly ripped off. I wouldn't let it go, and eventually received my order. As described by others elsewhere, the results were far less than I had expected. Unlike most of my collection, these are not on display. The originals were probably amazing, but if you don't keep your standards then later results won't compare.

He had a lot of stuff that looked great. Had he been honest and fulfilled his part I would have purchased much more from him. I am pretty patient. Stuff happens, and things don't always go as planned. We all deal with that all the time. It is how you deal with it that matters, and if someone has no respect for those they make promises to there is no reason to have any respect for them.

I didn't want to have to deal with issues like this again, so I didn't buy any new pieces for years. When I did the first people I checked with for new things were those that had been open, honest, and produced high quality work for me in the past. Most other people I have purchased from are very friendly and do great work, with some going well beyond what is expected of them. Just look at all the other great people and their wonderful art mentioned here.

My point is there are better artists using the same source material, so I don't think Poppe will really be missed. Even if you like something that he made, it is unlikely you will get what you expect, if you get anything at all, when dealing with him.

Propnomicon said...

@ CoastConFan

The Internet Never Forgets.

@ Raven

I suspect he got caught in the pre-order trap. A *huge* percentage of short-run artists get behind on orders, find themselves short on cash because of an emergency, and end up spending their pre-order money on personal needs instead of materials. It's a vicious cycle that's easy to fall into.

@ RobertG22

You scored a heck of a deal. Despite Mr. Poppe's dodgy business practices he *was* a talented artist.

@ rygD Unofloas

One of the nice things about social media is that questionable artists get exposed extremely quickly. A lack of customer service is a good way to get a permanently stained reputation.

rygD Unofloas said...

Propnomicon, I agree with what you said to Raven. Initially that is what I thought the problem was, so I waited. Then I started to get a lot of stories that didn't make sense (someone stealing the packages before they shipped, etc.). It really sucks for everyone that things happened as they did, especially if stealing people's money was never his intention. I know of others that have done much worse and will also be remembered poorly in their respective communities. I try to believe that these people just let things get out of their control, however it helps a lot to just say "I screwed up" and try to make it right. Sometimes there are others that will try to help you out.

RobertG22, enjoy it. As long as you are happy with it the rest of the drama doesn't matter. He also made a few other books, and some really great sculptures (at least in photographs, I think some pictures are at the links above).

His site was if anyone was wondering.

Raven said...

@ Props : "... end up spending their pre-order money on personal needs instead of materials."

It couldn't have been shortage of materials that left, according to Miss K's complaint about Poppe right here on this blog, bubbles in the resin (that broke leaving pits), fingerprints in the eye "jewels", and paint so wet that the packing papers stuck to it and the customer had to repaint both the torn-away spots and the never-painted spots.

Clearly he had the materials at that point. He'd had the skill to make the original look great. What he lacked was the care to take the time to do the same for this repro. Packed while the paint was wet -- that one single detail alone says "sloppy rush job", which explains everything else.

josefk said...

I had some less than satisfactory dealings with Mr. Poppe, too. He had amazing talent, but the finished products were often left a bit to be desired. The last piece I got from him arrived at least six month's late and had it's head broken off.
As far as we paint, goes, on very rare occasions things that seem dry are affected by atmospheric conditions and manage to become 'sticky' again. That's one of the reasons I like to have my sculpts sit for a few days after applying the final sealer.

Anonymous said...

I purchased a Cthulhu statue from him on ebay about 10 years ago.

After waiting through about 9 months of ongoing excuses, I finally received a shoddy product that could just barely be said to fulfill his end of the bargain. -- Instead of casting the statue in resin as one would assume would be the case from the auction listing pictures, instead for my $100+ I received a statue cast in cheapo expanding insulating foam that he had spreayed into the mold!

Parts of the foam had crumbled off as he removed it from the mold, but he didn't care and just slathered on a gloppy coating of cheap paint and shipped it off to me like it was some kind of masterpiece.

Of course by that time it was way to late to leave a comment to warn anyone else about him on ebay.

To this day I get angry whenever I see that so-called "statue". But I don't even dare to display it because I have been warned that that kind of expanding foam is known to emit dangerous toxic gases.

Damned scam artist!