Sunday, December 6, 2015

Edward Gorey: A Chthonian Christmas

Edward Gorey was frequently called upon to provide illustrations for Christmas themed articles in magazines. Published in the December 1966 issue of Esquire Magazine, A Chthonian Christmas is one of Mr. Gorey's more unusual holiday works.

Esquire was a monthly magazine for men, and was produced at a time when magazines were truly magazines. This generously sized issue alone clocks in at 360 pages. The cover of the magazine promises 7 "New" Deadly Sins, and this theme pervades the publication. There are articles on "Fat Power", which glorifies the rotund male, as well as a cornucopia of other subjects.

A Chthonian Christmas celebrates the darker side of the Yuletide Season. The two page illustrated spread features a beautifully detailed full page illustration by Edward Gorey. The eight vignettes illuminate the kinds of holidays none of us ever hope to encounter, from the arrival of ominous packages to a a family of children finding their father strangled in front of the mantle by one of their holiday stockings.

The illustrations on the right hand page are even more curious. The six enigmatic illustrations all show frog-like creatures mumbling obscure pronouncements. These creatures act in a similar manner to the dogs in Mr. Gorey's 1975 book, L'Heure Bleue, even if their statements are less comprehensible.

This issue of Esquire also introduces Edward Gorey's The Awful Vista of the Year, published in 1995 as The Fantod Pack ~ but that will be discussed in a future post.

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