Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie

The next title in the John Bellairs' book series is The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie. This is the third story where Brad Strickland completed an unfinished manuscript (or outline) left by Mr. Bellairs when he died. Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, New York in 1994, this title is the ninth book to chronicle the adventures of Johnny Dixon, his friend Fergie and the ever cantankerous Professor Childermass.
Edward Gorey created a dust wrapper painting which shows two scenes, one on the front cover and one on the rear. While the rear cover shows an intriguing image, the front cover design is the star of this show. The front of the book features a zombie carrying Johnny away into the night, while Professor Childermass confronts it with a flashlight. I have not seen this artwork in person, but close examination of the printed image reveals how the white paper is left unpainted for the beam of light, while the background is painted all around the glowing stream. Mr. Gorey shows exceptional control of his watercolor paints in this image.

I find it amusing that Edward Gorey took the liberty of turning the face of the zombie green in his painting, giving it a "Frankenstein's Monster" look. The description in the book states that the zombie is deathly pale with dead eyes. There is also an amusing story about the interior art posted on www.bellairsia.com - Mr. Stickland sent a sketch to show Mr. Gorey what he intended for the illustration which appears on page 125. Mr. Gorey forwarded the original sketch to the publisher explaining that he could not improve on the art!

1 comment:

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