Thursday, February 27, 2020

Auction News - A Farewell to The Gotham Book Mart

On Tuesday February 25th Doyle Auction House in New York City sold the contents of Gotham Book Mart's storage locker. This treasure trove of Edward Gorey items was basically what was left of GBM's "back room rarities" that included books, prints, posters, and ephemera, almost all of which were signed by Mr. Gorey. The auction consisted of over 200 lots of choice Gorey material.

This was an online only auction that was not widely advertised. There was a preview to view the items being offered at Doyle but bidding was only available through their website. Because of this, and the difficulties and restrictions of signing in as a first time bidder, those who did sign up and bid successfully were able to turn back time and buy virtually every item at 1990's Gotham Book Mart prices.
One item of particular interest was an undated four page manuscript entitled Can A Pig Fly. This undated story begins briefly as a typed manuscript and Edward Gorey quickly changes to handwriting the rest of the story in his distinctive script over four pages. The manuscript was accompanied by 30 photocopies that made up a rough draft of the proposed book that included sketches for illustrations (not by Mr. Gorey).

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

John Bellairs - The Mansion in the Mist

A recent addition to my Edward Gorey art collection is the cover painting for John Bellairs The Mansion in the Mist (1992 Dial Books for Young Readers). The Mansion in the Mist was the last story in the series written completely by Mr. Bellairs, who passed away in 1991. Later books in the series were completed and then completely written by author Brad Strickland.

The cover painting shows a room in a rustic cabin wherein young Anthony Monday is kneeling beside a trunk, dressed in his pajamas in the middle of the night. The trunk is actually a portal to another world/dimension that only opens at certain times.
 The painting is a watercolor with pen & ink that is quite meticulously executed. The simple composition with the crooked doorway perfectly conveys a sense that all is not right. As can be seen when comparing the original artwork to the printed cover, the colors in the art are subtler and more painterly than when it was reproduced. Mr. Gorey demonstrates his considerable skill at drawing textures and patterns in the wooden walls and floor.
As can be seen in the above scan of the wraparound dust jacket, this is only half of the original artwork. In the mid 1990's Edward Gorey needed to raise funds to tackle some major home repairs, and to this end he sold original artwork from his archive through the Gotham Book Mart to finance the work. When queried by Gotham as to how he wanted the pieces from the Bellairs' series sold, Mr. Gorey stated that he was OK with them cutting the dust wrapper paintings in half if someone only wanted to purchase part of a design.

To my knowledge, three Bellairs titles were cut and sold in halves: The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt; The Mansion in the Mist; and The Lamp from the Warlock's Tomb. Fortunately, the practice of cutting the art up was quickly ended, and future sales were for the full dust jacket designs only. I now own two of the cut front cover paintings from this series.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Treehorn Movie

Director Ron Howard is working on an animated film based on The Shrinking of Treehorn and the two other Treehorn books by Florence Parry Heide. Edward Gorey's illustrations are said to influence and inspire the animations,