Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder

Brad Strickland took on the job of completing and/or writing books for stories left behind by John Bellairs when the author died in 1991. The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder is the second title completed by Mr. Strickland in the series. Published in 1993 by Dial Books for Young Readers, New York, The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder takes place concurrently with the events outlined in Mr. Strickland's previous book, The Ghost in the Mirror (see my posting from September 22, 2010).

Once again, Edward Gorey was retained to create a full color painting for the dust jacket, a black & white frontis illustration, and a spot illustration of a maze pictured on page 32. The drawing of the maze appears to be lost, but the dust jacket and frontis original artwork are not.

Bromer Booksellers sold the dust jacket artwork (two pieces of original art: one large color painting and one hand-lettered title typography) in their now famous 2001 catalog of Edward Gorey artwork, books and ephemera. The dust jacket image does not read particularly well as a single piece of art, but the execution and subject matter are top notch. The skeleton wearing glasses with plants growing up through it on the back cover of the book is particularly delightful.

I was not able to obtain the color dust jacket artwork from Bromer, but I was fortunate enough to secure the frontis illustration (from Gotham Book Mart). In this fantastically spooky illustration, a ghostly figure appears outside a window, distressing Lewis so he drops his candlestick (the book he is holding in his other hand will soon burst into flames!). The moody crosshatching is perfectly executed, with the ghostly head and hands of the apparition glowing against the midnight sky.


Anonymous said...

The one thing about that ghostly figured that always creeped me out were the teeth.
Adding an inhuman touch to an otherwise human looking 'person'

ampootozote said...

I agree...the teeth almost look like the mouth is sewn shut - either way, nasty creepy!