Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Edward Gorey / Master of morbid humour

Edward Gorey, eerie illustrator, master of morbid humour, gets a posthumous Google birthday gift

by Rebecca Tucker
 | 13/02/22 | Last Updated: 13/02/22 1:52 PM E
Edward Gorey and one of his many book-cover illustrations.
Tom Herde/Boston Globe Photo filesEdward Gorey and one of his many book-cover illustrations.

An Edward Gorey cover of Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent
An Edward Gorey cover of Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent
Edward Gorey did not make it his business to be cheerful, despite the fact that a number of his titles are popular with children. “If you’re doing nonsense it has to be rather awful, because there’d be no point,” Gorey said of his work. “I’m trying to think if there’s sunny nonsense. Sunny, funny nonsense for children — oh, how boring, boring, boring. As Schubert said, there is no happy music. And that’s true, there really isn’t. And there’s probably no happy nonsense, either”
The macabre author and illustrator, who would have turned 88 today, was a fan of nonsense — his books and short stories are largely surreal, often completely without text, and are for their black humour popular among gothic subcultures. His illustration style was decidedly eerie: Gorey drew in black and white, mostly, anrd relied heavily on crosshatching method — his particular style, whimsical as it is chilling, significantly inspired filmmaker Tim Burton.
edward gorey google doodle 2013
Illustration by Edward Gorey
Illustration by Edward Gorey
Gorey’s text, often worked into rhyming couplets, veers off into ramblings on death and violence. His prose was decidedly postmodern — indeed, nonsensical — and the author experimented with pop-up books, books the size of match boxes and stories whose characters were entirely inanimate objects. He also dabbled in theatre, writing an Off-Broadway play, Amphigorey, and winning a Tony Award in 1976 for his costume design on Dracula.
Gorey is being celebrated on the occasion of what would have been his 88th birthday — the author died in 2000 — with a Google doodle featuring some of his most memorable characters (including The Doubtful Guest, with whom Gorey can be seen chatting on Google’s G).
Below, we’ve compiled a list of the ten most interesting anecdotes, stories and facts about the late, great Gorey.
1. He started early
Perhaps inspired by his grandmother, who drew greeting cards for a living, Gorey’s first illustrations were done when he was o nly a year and a half old. At that time, he drew pictures of passing trains — which, in retrospect, he was none too fond of: “I hasten to add they showed no talent whatsoever,” Gorey once told Christian Science Monitor. “They looked like irregular sausages.”
2. He’s got at least one thing in common with Steve Jobs
Gorey, like Jobs, was a dropout: he left of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago after just one semester. That’s not to say he didn’t have a taste for knowledge: He eventually went back to school — to Harvard, in fact – and at the time of his death, he owned more than 45,000 books.
3. He wasn’t British
Though his dry wit seemed befitting of a Brit, Gorey was born in Chicago. In fact, he had never been to Britain.
4. He wasn’t stuffy about his television
Macabre though his printed work may be, Gorey was a fan of some seriously fluffy televison: “He thought Golden Girls was hilarious,” friend and fellow author Alexander Theyroux said in a 2011 interview with And he so loved Batman: The Animated Series that he apparently once said it was influencing his visual style.
Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia CommonsEdward Gorey at his home.
5. He was a man of culture
Gorey became a regular of the New York City Ballet, having attended every performance from 1957 to 1982 — he was a huge fan of George Balanchine. This would influence several works, including The Gilded Bat (1966) and The Lavender Leotard(1973). Gorey was notorious for his ballet-going apparel, which consisted of a large fur coat and tennis shoes — an outfit worn by many of his characters, as well.
6. He wasn’t crazy about interviews, but he did like to talk about himself
Case-in-point: The story “Edward Gorey: Proust Questionnaire,” which ran in Vanity Fair in 1997 and was simply Gorey interviewing himself. “If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?” he asks. “A stone,” he replies.
7. He was an avowed animal lover to the end
Besides the numerous fauna that populated his published works, Gorey owned several cats and willed the bulk of his estate to a charity benefiting dogs, cats, bats and insects.
8. He considered himself “asexual”
Gorey died never having married and without any children, and he would never directly address the issue of his sexual orientation. “I’m neither one thing nor the other particularly,” he said in one interview. “I am fortunate in that I am apparently reasonably undersexed or something … I’ve never said that I was gay and I’ve never said that I wasn’t … what I’m trying to say is that I am a person before I am anything else.” His work was, however, at times sexually explicit: In 1961 he self-published, on his own Fantod imprint, The Curious Sofa, which is according to its cover “pornographic illustrated story about furniture.”
DisneyTim Burton's visual style is deeply Gorey-esque.
9. His influence knows no bounds
Gorey’s distinct visual style has been emulated by everyone from Nine Inch Nails, whose video for The Perfect Drug was designed to mimic Gorey’s style, to Tim Burton, whose animated features are distinctly Gorey-esque. Neil Gaiman, the popular British writer, wanted Gorey to illustrate his book, Coraline (later made into a movie by Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick), but Gorey died the day the novel was finished.
10. He was no slouch
Gorey had published more than 100 books by the time of his death — and several more unpublished works were found in his home after he passed.

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