Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Trolley to Yesterday

The Trolley to Yesterday was the first of two books published by John Bellairs in 1989. Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, The Trolley to Yesterday features a time traveling trolley car which takes Professor Childermass, Johnny Dixon and Byron "Fergie" Ferguson to Constantinople in the year 1453.

Similar in painting style to The Eyes of the Killer Robot, Edward Gorey's wrap-around dust jacket art is not up to par with most of the other color covers in this series. The front cover portion of the dust jacket art looks undecided and rushed. I do like the painting on the back cover illustration, which has delicately placed clouds. I am not aware of this original dust jacket artwork being sold by Mr. Gorey through Gotham Book Mart when he sold the other art from this series.

The original art for frontis illustration for this title is part of my collection. For this illustration, our three travelers glide past "themselves" lying pale, cold and dead in a boat in an underground pillared lake. This heavily crosshatched drawing is remarkable for the deep black shadows which were created by line work and not in-painting. This is a drawing that is diminished when printed in the book because all the crosshatching blurs into solid black on the printed page. This drawing is signed in ink by Edward Gorey.

I also own the original art for hand drawn map of Constantinople that appears in the book. The map is a fantastic example of Mr. Gorey's deft skills at cartography. Mr. Gorey misspelled several words on this map and had to correct the art for publication. This is also a rare instance in which Mr. Gorey drew an illustration larger than it was intended to be printed because of the amount of lettering involved. In the book, the map is printed on its side at 3 13/16". The art is drawn at 5.25" with the notation for reduction penciled in (see photo above).

At one time, I also owned two small drawings that appear as interior spot illustrations for this book, but I sold them some years ago to another collector. The two illustrations were drawn on a single piece of illustration paper.

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