Friday, October 30, 2015

Happy Halloween from Goreyana ~ Dracula on Broadway

Edward Gorey 

These three things go together like bats against a full moon! I recently became aware of a stash of theatrical photographs from the 1977 Broadway production of Dracula in the digital archives at the New York Public Library, Billy Rose Theater Division. This extensive archive of images shows the sets, actors and production in a multitude of images that is sure to delight any fan of Edward Gorey. Access to the archive can be found HERE.

The Martha Swope photos of the original cast give a very real sense of the "Goreyesque" quality of the production. The color photographs in the collection show how Edward Gorey's sets and costumes blended together to create and atmosphere of menace. One of my favorite images shows Frank Langella as the evil Count Dracula lying in his coffin.

This photograph shows Renfield (Richard Kavanaugh), Dr. Seward (Dillon Evans), and Van Helsing (Jack Dempsey). Renfield's costume and make-up is a particular delight. With a visage straight out of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Renfield is perfectly attired in muted striped pajamas with bat clasps that identify his enslavement to the Count. 

This archive is a fantastic resource for theatrical studies. The Dracula images were digitized and added to the online archive in 2013. All images are copyright: The New York Public Library.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Night Creature Print

As Halloween creeps closer, I was trying to decide which of Edward Gorey's prints had the most frightening image. Night Creature Carrying Baby Aloft is one of Edward Gorey's most successful prints. To create this piece, Mr. Gorey wholeheartedly embraced the medium of printmaking and produced a striking image which could only be created through the printmaking process. I have print #40/50 in my collection.

With his use of shadow and light, Mr. Gorey conveys menace, darkness, and despair more convincingly than he could have in his standard cross hatched drawing style. In person, this print has a beautiful, almost three dimensional, inky black surface. This Night Creature does not have good intentions.

Edward Gorey modified a copy of this print by adding color to the image, and used the altered image as the cover for a 1987 vampire compilation book (see my post from February 9, 2014). While adding color to the image worked for the dust jacket, I still prefer the original black & white print.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Monster Den

There are all kinds of monsters in the world. Some are imagined, some are real, and some we create ourselves. Even though the title suggests otherwise, this book of poetry by John Ciardi is a fond look at the author's life with the "monsters" he and his wife created: his three children.

Published in 1966 by J.B. Lippencott Company, The Monster Den, or Look What Happened at My House - and to It showcases 18 poems by John Ciardi, each illustrated by Edward Gorey. My copy is signed by Mr. Ciardi.  John Ciardi taught at Harvard was an influential figure in Edward Gorey's development as an author/poet.

Mr. Gorey's illustrations throughout the book are whimsical and created with a light touch. Figures cavort, dance, and float in space on the page. Sometimes the family members have the heads of monsters, as shown on the dust jacket, but most often they are instantly recognizable as typical "Gorey people".

Monday, October 12, 2015

Mistresses of Mystery

"Why is it that when we all have electricity, radios, and telephones, we still return to antiquated tales of horror?" - Edmund Wilson

Thus begins the introduction for a short story by E. Nesbit, one of the nine tales included in Mistresses of Mystery, Two Centuries of Suspense Stories by the Gentle Sex. Selected and introduced by Seon Manley & Gogo Lewis, and published by Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Company in 1973, this spine tingling collection of tales continues our autumnal theme of scary stories with Edward Gorey connections. Each story included in the volume is given an informative introduction with background information on the author and tale that follows.

The volume is remarkable for the beautiful three color dust wrapper illustration by Edward Gorey showing an authoress engaged in imagining tales of murder and fright. Borrowing an idea from himself which he employed in his production design for the Nantucket production of Dracula from the same year, Mr. Gorey adds two splashes of bright red to the monochromatic drawing for emphasis. Mr. Gorey also uses this exact style of coloration to great effect on his poster for the 1975 Lillian Hellman Tribute (see my post from September 19, 2009)

This volume could have only been improved by the addition of more illustrations by Mr. Gorey.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Haunted Yarmouth

When planning your "Tricks and Treats" route of buildings and homes near The Edward Gorey House this Halloween, you may want to have Haunted Yarmouth, Ghosts and Legends from the Cape as your guidebook - both for places to visit and for buildings to avoid.

Published in 2008, this volume chronicles strange happenings and sightings in and around Yarmouth, MA. Of course, Edward Gorey's home located at 8 Strawberry Lane is included in the book. Built in 1820, Mr. Gorey purchased the home in 1979 and lived there until his death in 2000. The home is now open as the Edward Gorey House Museum. There have been several unusual incidents at the residence, both while Mr. Gorey was alive and since his passing. Visit the museum and see if you feel a cold chill down your spine in the back room!