Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Edward Gorey at Auction

The upcoming auction of Illustration Art on January 22, 2015 at Swann Galleries in New York City features three pieces of original art by Edward Gorey.

The first item is the preliminary sketch for the wraparound dust wrapper of The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull by John Bellairs (1984). It is interesting to compare how closely the sketch and the final artwork match (see my post from February 16, 2010).

The next piece is the complete finished art for Haunted America, a compilation of ghost stories by Marvin Kaye (see my post from January 6, 2014). This is a wonderfully vibrant image that was severely cropped on the final publication. Swann sold the preliminary artwork for this piece at the January 2014 Illustration Art Sale.

The third offering at the sale is Edward Gorey's final book illustration project before he passed away in April 2000. The Beast Under the Wizard's Bridge lot includes the separate artwork for the hand lettering on the cover and spine of the book.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Light Meters

While visiting the Boston area in early November, we were delighted to find that the time of our visit coincided with the annual Boston Book Fair. We found many new dealers to get to know, and lots of wonderful items to inspect. We even came away with a few new treasures for our collections.

Book fairs are a fantastic way to expand your collections and knowledge. Even in the booths with items that do not pertain to our specific collecting interests, we can learn more about the world and the records left behind. It is usually true that a dealer will have a specific area of interest and knowledge, and that they are happy to inform the curious about the pieces they have brought. The danger, of course, is that you will find something that you didn't realize you suddenly need to have!

It is also true that not everything is on the Internet! At the book fair, we came away with several items that were not listed at online stores or websites. One such item that I was able to add to my collection was the limited edition copy of Light Meters by Felicia Lamport, illustrated by Edward Gorey.

Light Meters was published in 1982 in a limited edition of 350 numbered and 26 lettered copies. Each of these copies were protected with a fragile glassine dust wrapper and slipcased. The copy I found at the fair was number 128 in mint condition in the original packaging - including the original brown paper wrapping inside the printed mailing box.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas!

From Goreyana!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Edward Gorey's Robots

Robots appear in illustrations throughout Edward Gorey's career. As a child and early teen in the 1930's, young Edward would have spent Saturday afternoons playing with friends and going to the movies. Movie serials became part of the Saturday afternoon theater experience in the mid-30's, with weekly installments of thrilling adventures, each ending in a cliffhanger for the hero or heroine. Many of these serials included futuristic themes with robots who were sent to do the bidding of a diabolical fiend. This was even true for the cowboy serials featuring Gene Autry!

In 1961, Edward Gorey illustrated Scrap Irony, the first of three collections of verse by Felicia Lampert. The robot featured on page 25 appears to be a cross between a piece of furniture and a robot. As with robots in the movie serials, this metal creation is supposed to be helpful, but is really thinking for itself and plotting against its inventor.
While almost all of the robots in the serial films were malevolent, Mr. Gorey's mechanical creatures tend to be helpful. Mr. Gorey also appears to stonghly associate robots with the Christmas season. Perhaps he was given a cherished toy robot as a child for Christmas. Whatever the reason, robots appear with frequency on his holiday cards.

One of Mr. Gorey's earliest Christmas robots appears to be conflicted as to whether it wants to be helpful or not. Created in the 1950's, this robot arrives at a remote location where a 1920's flapper has been chained to a rock - but who has chained her there, the robot? The robot gives a cheery "Merry Christmas" and comes bearing gifts in each of its four outstretched arms. Is this a joyous rescue for the heroine, or the cliffhanger to this weeks installment? Will a flaming Plum Pudding really help her out of her situation?
Theater on the Bay's 1993 holiday theatrical production of Blithering Christmas features a helpful robot on the program and souvenir button. It can also be noted that Edward Gorey associates alligators with the Holiday Season. In both Blithering Christmas images, the robot is being assisted by a large reptile to help the small girl. In another image, this same pair appears alongside a small boy, each taking photos of a forlorn Christmas Tree. This helpful reptile also appears without the robot on other Christmas cards.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Masterful Marks: Cartoonists Who Changed the World

Looking for a gift for the Edward Gorey collector in your life? Or perhaps you are just feeling the urge to buy a book for your Gorey collection? Masterful Marks: Cartoonists Who Changed the World (2014 Simor & Schuster) by Monte Beauchamp is a great addition to any collection.
The book tells the personal and professional biographies of 16 cartoon artists in the illustrated graphic novel style by a variety of contemporary artists. A wide range of popular cartoonists such as Charles Schulz, Dr. Suess and Walt Disney reside alongside names that might not be as familiar, such as Rodolphe Topffer and Osamu Tozuka. Edward Gorey is presented by illustrator Greg Clarke in a beautiful 6 page spread.

All of the biographies are beautifully presented, with well written interesting tidbits of information and fantastic illustrations in an illustrated "Wikipedia" style.

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Visit to the Edward Gorey House Continued

My visit to the Edward Gorey House in October was full of pleasant surprises. One room at the far back of the house had several very interesting displays, including the puppets shown in my previous post and materials relating to the animated sequence for Mystery!. This room also contains a display of hand made stuffed creatures. The case displays the popular Figbash dolls along with other rare pieces sewn by Mr. Gorey. A pile of frogs (with different styles of feet) are joined by a rabbit, elephant, and dragon-like creature. Of particular interest is the cat - a first glance it looks like one of the printed Toy Works cats, but it is actually a hand painted version.

In their goal to display as many interesting things as possible, the room also houses a wall of illustrated books that you can look through. Part of this display is a xerox facsimile or one of Mr. Gorey's sketchbooks containing sketches for the Nantucket and Broadway productions of Dracula. I was delighted to find a page showing his sketch for the iconic poster created for the Broadway production.

Even more of a surprise was to find a page showing the original sketch for the Dracula proscenium and drop curtain used in Nantucket. The finished artwork for the proscenium is in my collection, so it was a thrill to see the sketch. All of the elements in the final artwork are present in the sketch. When the production transferred to Broadway, Mr. Gorey redesigned the proscenium and drop curtain. One can assume that the crossing out on the sketch was done as he went through his idea book and was deciding what to keep and what to re-imagine.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Visit to the Edward Gorey House

This past week, Bill and I made a visit the Edward Gorey House Museum in Yarmouthport, MA. The 2015 show focuses on Edward Gorey's self published Fantod Press books, and is on display through the end of the year.

Once again, Edward Gorey House director Rick Jones and his staff have done an exceptional job displaying pieces for the exhibition. Every room contains hundreds of objects, each with a story that can be related by the extremely knowledgeable docents - the day we visited, a gentleman named Charles was a delightful and informative companion as we walked through the show. The depth of material and information found in this year's exhibit is second to none.

Upon entering the House, visitors are greeted by a delightful Fantod Under Glass who presides over the exhibition and was created specially for the show. The first two cases you encounter on either side of this colorful fellow are worth the price of admission in themselves.

Edward Gorey created the Fantod Press to self publish The Beastly Baby, a title he was shopping around and which no publisher wanted to touch...much like the Baby itself! These original drawings are rarely seen and are unexpectedly larger in person than their printed versions - a rarity since Mr. Gorey usually drew art at the size he intended for publication. A small sculptural Baby which once belonged to Mr. Gorey is included in the case.

The display on the other side of the Fantod shows artwork from The Chinese Obelisks. On exhibit in this case is an actual mummy's hand which belonged to Edward Gorey and inspired several creepy drawings.
Edward Gorey's home has many rooms with twists, turns, nooks, and crannies which lend themselves to intimate display areas. The small scale of the original art on display is never overwhelmed by the space, and there is something to see in every corner. The interactive layout of the exhibitions also allows for multiple viewers to be in the spaces and still feel as through the show is there "just for them".

In addition to the Fantod displays, there are exhibits of other aspects of Edward Gorey's career. Of particular interest is the large (in terms of material) display showcasing Edward Gorey's relationship with Dracula. The Dracula material includes original artwork from an unfinished illustrated version of the novel, artwork, photographs, and Mr. Gorey's Tony Award from the Broadway production and original art used for the Dracula Toy Theater. The piece of artwork from the Toy Theater has to be one of the largest and most awe-inspiring pieces of original Gorey artwork I have ever seen in person.
Below is a photo of director Rick Jones with myself in Edward Gorey's kitchen, a room that contains a display of personal and interesting objects which Mr. Gorey collected and actually had arranged on his counter tops.
The 2015 show continues on weekends through the end of the year, and is not to be missed.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Limericks for Book Week

In the 1970's and early '80's, work by Edward Gorey would appear sporadically in Cricket Magazine. Cricket was started in 1973 by Marianne Carus, whose intent was to create a literary magazine for children aged 9 to 14 that could be used in the classroom. Many famous authors and illustrators were associated with the publication.

One of the earliest contributions by Edward Gorey was a limerick reprinted from a 1975 Book Week pamphlet that also included Gorey illustrations. Most of Mr. Gorey's future contributions would be as illustrator for works by other authors, but the magazine did reprint a portion of his Dancing Cats in the March 1981 issue. It appears that all contributions by Edward Gorey to Cricket were, like the two shown here, reprinted from other sources and were not made specifically for the magazine.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Iron Tonic

With the 1969 publication of The Iron Tonic: Or A Winter Afternoon in Lonely Valley, Edward Gorey began his foray into publishing signed, limited edition, collectible volumes that would continue for the next 31 years. Published by the Albondocani Press in an edition of 200 numbered and 26 lettered copies, The Iron Tonic has one of the smallest runs of any first edition Gorey book.

In addition to copy #37/200 of this title (which I was able to get in the 1990's), I recently added lettered copy E/26 to my collection. The 26 lettered copies of this title have proved to be especially elusive over the years, with lettered copies rarely coming onto the market.

The Iron Tonic also has one of the earliest announcement cards heralding the sale of a new book by Mr. Gorey. The plain white card is simply printed with information and is blank on the reverse side.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Body-Snatcher

The Body Snatcher by Robert Louis Stevenson is another great story to be read in October. Edward Gorey created this illustration in 1959 for The Haunted Looking Glass (see my post from November 5, 2008). Mr. Gorey selected 12 classic horror stories and provided an illustration for each story. Warm up some cider and nestle in with this book of spooky tales!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull

At this time of year, I like to reread some of my favorite spooky stories, especially books from the John Bellairs  book series. I also enjoy revisiting many of my favorite Edward Gorey illustrations and book cover designs. The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull has one of my favorite Gorey-designed covers from the series, and it is an image that always puts me in a Halloween frame of mind! From the skull nestled into the typography to the jack-o-lantern in the window, this wonderful image compels me to pick this book up and read it in October.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

2014 Edward Gorey House Prints

The Edward Gorey House has released its three new limited edition prints for 2014.

Each year, the Edward Gorey House produces several limited edition prints. The selection for 2014 includes two panels from a favorite Fantod Press story, a Holiday treat, and an unusual image showing a hovering Deity. Each limited edition print is hand numbered and "signed" with an embossed facsimile of Edward Gorey's signature. To purchase prints, visit the Edward Gorey House website.

12 Lords a'Leaping - The final chapter of the perennial Christmas song - 12 Days of Christmas - is brought to life in this colorful image.

The Evil Garden - Depicted are two panels from the The Evil Garden, one of the books included in Three Books from the Fantod Press I, 1966. Artwork from this book is part of current exhibition.

God Hovers In Jammies - This little known image was created to publicize a 1965 Gorey exhibition in California. The title of this print comes from a line in Mr. Gorey's Thoughtful Alphabet VIII (published as a broadside in 1996):

Be calm.
Don't eat fruitcake.
God Hovers in jammies.
Keep leaning Mother Nature's orations.
Perplexing questions remain.
Something turns underneath.
Various whatevers examined yield zilch.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Edward Gorey's Dracula in Houston About To Take Flight

The witching hour approaches when Edward Gorey's iconic production of Dracula will once again come to life on the stage of the Alley Theater in Houston Texas. A September 26 article in the Houston Chronicle outlines the challenges of recreating the sets from the 1977 production. To read the article, go HERE.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Edward Gorey Etching Exhibition Article

The Cape Cod Times has published an excellent article about the current E is for Elephants show of etchings and ephemera. Go HERE to see the article.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Another Random Walk by Edward Gorey

Published in the February 1994 issue of Worth Magazine, Random Walk by Edward Gorey is a self contained story in four panels (see my post from August 13, 2014 for another Random Walk). I like how the dummy in the window goes from exuberant showmanship in panel one, to modesty in the second panel. The impractical outfit (with extra hip length boots and hat which are not displayed in the shop window) looks like one of Mr. Gorey's costume designs.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Edward Gorey Exhibition in Canada

Over 100 works by Edward Gorey are now on display at the Simon Fraser University Burnaby's W.A.C. Bennett Library. This Special Collections and Rare Books show features works by Mr. Gorey which were donated to the library in 2012 by Emily McWhinney. For more information on this exhibition, go HERE.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Edward Gorey Auction News

Warm up your paddles and get set to bid on Edward Gorey items from the Samuel Spiegel collection which are being offered at Swann Auction Galleries in New York City on October 1st. The first part of Mr. Spiegel's collection was sold at Swann this past May. This second auction consists of 30 lots which include many limited edition volumes, groups of posters, and prints by Mr. Gorey. To view the catalog on line, go HERE.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Watch the Birdie

Here is an illustration by Edward Gorey for Friends Magazine from August 1962. Chevrolet produced this magazine from 1948 until the 1980's as a giveaway extolling the virtues of owning your own car so you could travel and see the "real" America.

The copy reads (in part), "The expression "Watch the birdie" may work well at home with youngsters you know, but when you attempt to take pictures of the colorful but evasive people you meet on your travels, the situation calls for diplomacy." The photo essay is goes on to give advice about photographing the indigenous peoples one will meet while traveling.

It would be interesting to know how specific the information given to Mr. Gorey was for this assignment. Was he asked for an image of traditional photography, or just given a basic outline for the one page spread?