Monday, December 1, 2008
The Wuggly Ump
"Sing tirraloo, sing tirralay,
The Wuggly Ump lives far away."
That is one of my favorite beginnings to an Edward Gorey book. You just KNOW that the Wuggly Ump is not staying far away!!
Published as a hardcover book with a matching dust jacket in 1963 by J.B. Lippincott of Philadelphia/New York, The Wuggly Ump has the appearance of a carefree children's book. The illustrations are simple, colorful, and resemble the happy drawings Mr. Gorey has been creating for John Ciardi's books. Of course, books by Edward Gorey are rarely happy and carefree. What is a Wuggly Ump? Only Edward Gorey knew for sure, but this is the only book that this rare creature appears in.
This book is printed in three colors (like The Bug Book), but the colors were added at the printing stage and not on the original artwork. This gives the book a paint by number feel that is appropriate to the story, with the colored areas being flat solid tones which infill elements of the drawings.
The Wuggly Ump was reprinted in 1966 as a paperback book by Willy Whale Books. This reprint used an interior illustration and standardized type on the cover and is not nearly as attractive a book as the first edition. The book has only one interior color, a dark grey/blue that looks rather odd on the drawings. Little care was taken to use the infill of color to any great effect. This book was printed on very inexpensive acidic paper and is quite fragile now.
This story appears in Amphigorey, and is currently in print from Pomegranate Books. Both my first edition and WWB reprint of The Wuggly Ump are signed by Edward Gorey on the title page.