Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Edward Gorey House Envelope Contest

The Edward Gorey house is now accepting entries for its annual Halloween Envelope Art Contest. Now in its 4th year, the contest is open to artists and enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels. Contest rules, the entry form (which must accompany the submission), and images of past winners can be found here: Envelope Contest

The deadline for entries to be received by mail is Friday October 27, 2017.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Glen Baxter

Glen Baxter is an artist who was born in Leeds, UK in 1944. Mr. Baxter primarily creates single panel absurdist cartoon panels that are available as collected works in many books. Original artwork is available from several Fine Art Galleries in the United States, England, and France. Mr. Baxter's work often features literary, domestic, and artistic themes combined in unlikely ways with typical British characters. Another favorite theme is the American West, where cowboys interact in unexpected ways with literature and modern art.

Unlike Edward Gorey who created artwork at the size it was intended to be published, Mr. Baxter's prefers to work in a Fine Art sensibility and his pieces range in size from 10" x 15" to massive 41" x 60" pieces. He works in pen & ink and also creates color pieces in pastel and crayon which give them a distinctive look. A number of images have been available as signed, limited edition prints.

Mr. Baxter's first solo art exhibition was held at the Gotham Book Mart in 1974. Edward Gorey attended the opening and was the first person to purchase Mr. Baxter's original artwork. Mr. Gorey acquired several originals at the GBM show and these remained in his personal art collection for the rest of his life. I have seen a lovely photograph of the two artists enjoying drinks and a laugh together at the opening.

At the time of the exhibition in 1974, Gotham Book Mart published Mr. Baxter's Fruits of the World in Danger. Fruits of the World was printed in a unnumbered limited edition of 300 staple bound copies in wrappers. The slim volume shows various fruits in situations that can only lead to disaster. It has been suggested that Fruits of the World inspired Edward Gorey's Menaced Objects, Dogear Wryde Postcards which was published in 1989.

Glen Baxter has published more than 20 books, and many are in print. The most recent volume is Almost Completely Baxter, New and Selected Blurtings . Published in 2016, this book includes black & white and color works.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Martin Landau

Actor Martin Landau died this past weekend at age 89. Mr. Landau played many roles over his long career including the title character in the 1985/85 national tour of the stage revival of Dracula. The tour featured the sets and costumes by Edward Gorey, and I was pleased to attend both performances of the play when it stopped at the Ordway Theater, St. Paul, MN in February 1985. Ten years later, Mr. Landau would once again inhabit the signature cape, earning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi in the film Ed Wood. An article about the casting of Landau in the 1984 theatrical revival can be read HERE.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Gorey Stories Caricature

Over the years Edward Gorey adapted his books into "an entertainment with music" several times with mixed success. Gorey Stories was the short lived Broadway production which opened and closed on October 30, 1978. The show was later retooled as Tinned Lettuce (NYU student production 1983), Amphigorey (Off Broadway 1994), and The Gorey Details (Off Broadway 2000).

Some of the original artwork used for set and program designs from the later production has appeared at auction in recent years. Mr. Gorey's original artwork for the Playbill cover for Gorey Stories was sold at Swann Auction Galleries in January 2016. An interesting piece of original artwork by caricaturist Sam Norkin related to Gorey Stories recently surfaced.
Mr. Norkin (1917 - 2011) was a New York born cartoonist who spent his long career producing caricatures for newspaper theatrical reviews. Known as "The Other Hirshfeld", Mr. Norkin's drawings graced the pages of the New York Herald Tribune from 1940 - 1956, after which he worked primarily for the New York Daily News. Mr. Norkin also wrote for newspapers as a theatrical reviewer.

Mr. Norkin created artwork to illustrate reviews for shows playing on Broadway, Off-Broadway and for out of town try-outs. His body of work has recently been offered over the course of several auctions and the shows represent a full spectrum of New York plays and musicals. One piece that caught my eye was created for Gorey Stories. I have acquired the piece, but as yet have not been able to ascertain if it actually appeared alongside a newspaper review. Several reviews of the show did appear in various New York papers, but so far I have only seen photographic illustrations accompanying them.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The House With A Clock In Its Walls Film

John Bellairs fans will be excited to learn that The House With A Clock In Its Walls is being made into film. The book, the first of a series of supernatural tales by author John Bellairs, was published with a dust jacket and interior illustrations by Edward Gorey. The film will be directed by Eli Roth and star Jack Black. The film is expected in theaters in 2019.  An article about the film can be found HERE. (The dust jacket pictured in the article was pulled from my May 7, 2009 blog post about the book)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Auction News

Swann Auction Galleries held an auction of Art, Press, & Illustrated Books on June 13. The auction included eleven lots of limited edition books, posters, and ephemera by Edward Gorey.

Starting the Gorey section was an ultra rare Doubtful Guest Doll with its original box from 1974. This limited edition doll was one of only four lettered examples.

Also of interest was a beautifully printed Elephant In Backstroke etching, and a piece of Dracula Damask wallpaper.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Of Cats and Men

Of Cats and Men by Sam Kalda (2017 Ten Speed Press, California) is a delightful volume with profiles and quotes of thirty of history's notable "Cat Men". Included in the list are gentlemen from the thirteenth century to modern times, and this gathering includes such diverse luminaries as Nikola Tesla, Winston Churchill, Marlon Brando, and Freddie Mercury. Of course, no list of this sort would be complete without Edward Gorey and several men who inspired him, including George Balanchine, Edward Lear, and Balthus. This is a lovely book for any cat lover.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Its Raining, Its Pouring

On a rainy day in New York City, it is easy to get lost in the sea of umbrellas. Keep off the heavy raindrops and stand out in a crowd with this wonderful Edward Gorey inspired umbrella, the perfect accessory when it really is raining cats and dogs!

Decorated with various wet felines and dogs, this umbrella is available from The Edward Gorey House Store:

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Joan Aiken: The Wolves Chronicles

Joan Aiken (1924 - 2004) was an amazingly prolific author of books, plays, poems, and alternative history novels. One of her most popular book series is the Wolves Chronicles. The Chronicles consist of twelve novels that feature child protagonists. Dido Twite is the heroine in most of the books, and her ingenuity and resourcefulness take her from one adventure to another.

The Wolves Chronicles can be a confusing muddle when first encountered for several reasons. The twelve books were written over the course of 23 years and, like The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, the stories were not written or published in the order in which they are finally intended to be read, although some readers prefer to read them in the published order.

Within the series, British historical events have been distorted and changed to suit the author's imagination. In Ms. Aiken's 1800's England, the line of succession in Great Britain now rests with James III, not Queen Victoria because James II was not dethroned in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. In addition to this political hocus pocus, the actual geography of England has been altered to suit the stories. Once a reader is aware of these eccentricities, the series becomes much less confusing.

There are multiple English and American hardcover and paperback editions of the stories, and each new printing seems to have different cover designs created by various artists! From a bibliographical standpoint, this series rivals Mr. Gorey's own books for the confusion faced by a collector who wishes to collect a complete set of the Chronicles in all of their variant covers.

Edward Gorey created cover designs for eight of the twelve American editions in the series (some paperback, some hardcover, some both). In fact, Mr. Gorey created a total of thirteen cover designs for eight titles. At the time of his death, he was still working on his own newly redesigned covers for reprints, which was intended to give the books a uniform look. The redesigned artwork is unusual in that a wallpaper background with two round vignettes was drawn by hand, and floating figures relating to each story were placed on top of the background. Each title also has a different scene dropped into the lower vignette. The wallpaper and framing devices for the vignettes were changed after three titles. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase does not seem to have been given this new style of cover design.

The Whispering Mountain (1968) - And so the confusion begins. Most lists, including the list on the Joan Aiken website, start the series with The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. The Whispering Mountain usually appears - if it appears at all - as book twelve in the series, but it is intended to be a prequel to to the series, so it can be read first or last! No Gorey designed cover appears to exist for this book.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (1962) - The first edition hard cover of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is a highly desired collectible for both Aiken and Gorey collectors, and this volume commands a premium price. The dust jacket design for the original hard cover (on the left) is a classic Gorey cover, conveying the menace and flavor of the story in a deceptively simple illustration. The original artwork was reused for a paperback reprinted version (right), but by masking the image, much of  the drama of the original layout has been lost.

Black Hearts at Battersea (1964) - The original American paperback version (above left) has a cover design by Edward Gorey that sets up a format that will be used for much of the series. The framing of the artwork is a disappointment, since the addition of the yellow border minimizes the impact of the art by making the image appear cramped. The female figure's yellow dress has become an afterthought instead of a focal point. Mr. Gorey's redesigned wallpaper style cover is on the right.

Nightbirds on Nantucket (1966) - The redesigned cover is shown on the left. I have yet to locate a copy of Nightbirds with the original Gorey cover artwork. Original artwork from many of these stories was released by Mr. Gorey, and several pieces have come up for sale over the years. On the right, I am showing the preliminary (center) and final (right) original artwork for this title that was offered by Gotham Book Mart. None of the original artwork from the series is in my collection.

The Stolen Lake (1981) - The original Edward Gorey paperback is on the left, and his redesigned cover on the right.

Limbo Lodge (1999) - Due (no doubt) to the lateness of this publication, no cover by Gorey appears to exist.

The Cuckoo Tree (1971) - The original Edward Gorey cover on the left, the redesigned cover in the center, and the original artwork on the right.

Dido and Pa (1986) - The original Edward Gorey hardback on the left, the paperback is in the center, and the redesigned cover on the right. I have records showing the original painting for this cover was sold in 2003 in an online auction.

Is Underground (1992) - The hardback dust wrapper by Edward Gorey (shown on the left) is the most striking cover produced for the series. The impression that one has entered Hell is simply and effectively executed through the use of perspective and intense color. In 1997, Mr. Gorey pulled out his flaming orange paints once again for the back cover of The Bell, The Book, and The Spellbinder by Brad Strickland. An earlier version of the original artwork for this title is shown on the right. This book was titled IS in England and the title was changed for the American edition. The original art shown on the right appears to be a fully finished version, not a sketch, meaning that Mr. Gorey completely recreated the art when the title was changed. This is somewhat surprising since the escutcheon with the revised title could have easily been redrawn and added over the old title - a technique used often by the artist. For the final published version, Mr. Gorey's painting technique on the fiery orange clouds is more carefully blended and less visceral than in the first attempt.

Cold Shoulder Road (1995) - Edward Gorey employed his famous "mushroom colors" for the American hardcover and paperback versions of this title. This title and Is Underground finally dispensed with the irritating colored border that usually appears on the paperback versions, and both paperback and hardcover copies show the full image without distraction. 

Midwinter Nightingale (2003) - This title was published after 2000, so no cover by Edward Gorey exists.

The Witch of Clatteringshaws (2005) - This title was published after 2000, so no cover by Edward Gorey exists.

Friday, April 21, 2017

2017 Edward Gorey House Exhibition Articles

This is a nice article about the current show at the Edward Gorey House that includes some wonderful photos with cameo appearances by Director Rick Jones and Curator Gregory Hischak.

Here is a second article on the exhibition:

Monday, April 3, 2017

2017 Edward Gorey House Show

On Saturday April 15th the Edward Gorey House will open their 2017 exhibition, Edward Gorey's Cabinet of Curiosities. The annual exhibitions at The House are always unique experiences that focus on different aspects of the works and life of writer/artist/illustrator Edward Gorey. With an emphasis on the collecting passions and unusual collections favored by Mr. Gorey, the 2017 exhibit promises to be the most personal show put together by The House.
The moniker Wunderkammer, or Cabinet of Curiosities stems from the practice, started by European nobles in the 15th Century of forming and displaying eclectic collections in large wardrobe-like cabinets or rooms that could be locked for safe keeping and opened to display the wonders within. The curiosities were usually be an eclectic mix of objects that would reflect the interests and tastes of the master of the house. Anything was fair game to be included, and the owner took pride in the acquisition and display of the objects within.

Edward Gorey's entire home could easily have been classified a Wunderkammer. Rare pieces were displayed next to yard sale finds, rocks that looked like frogs stood sentry on the porch, while cheese graters and pepper mills were arranged to resemble armies or towns. All the objects collected by Mr. Gorey inspired and informed his work, and many direct (and obscure) parallels can be seen in the objects he lived with and his artwork.

To find out more about Edward Gorey's Cabinet of Curiosities and to plan you visit to The Edward Gorey House, go to

Exhibition photographs by James Edwards courtesy of The Edward Gorey House.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Auction News

On March 21, 2017 Swann Auction Galleries in New York City held its semi-annual Illustration Art auction. Showcased at the center of the auction was a selection of twelve pieces of original artwork (in eleven lots) by Edward Gorey. The artwork offered included published and previously unseen pieces by Mr. Gorey.

The original paintings and pen & ink drawings at this auction ran the gamut from early book cover designs created by Edward Gorey in the 1950's, to later theatrical set and costume designs. Of particular interest was a color portrait of Mr. Earbrass that sold for $11,875.00, which was double the pre-sale estimate. With a final price of $18,750.00, the stunning Mystery! themed piece appears to have set a new auction record for a piece of original artwork by Mr. Gorey.

Swann has become the go-to auction house for works by Edward Gorey. Since January 2013, they have offered hundreds of books, posters, and more than 55 original works (drawings, paintings, and fine art prints) by Mr. Gorey.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

At Home With Monsters

 The Minneapolis Institute of Art is currently hosting Guillermo Del Toro, At Home With Monsters , an exhibition which is on display through May 28th before heading to Canada. The exhibition displays Mr. Del Toro's collections of paintings and original illustration artwork alongside his very unusual home furnishings, artifacts, and film concept artwork. The entrance to the exhibition itself lets you know that this will not be a typical museum show.

Mr. Del Toro has has christened his Los Angeles home Bleak House and filled it with inspirational material and artwork. Among the art on display in the exhibition are several pieces of original artwork that Edward Gorey created for Penny Candy by Edward Fenton. The suite of four small drawings for the book are particularly entrancing. The amount of detail in these petite pieces is quite astounding.

In 2016, before the home was pillaged for the exhibition, Conan O'Brien sent Andy Richter off to film a tour of Bleak House guided by Guillermo Del Toro himself. The video focuses on the life sized figures (many of which are in the exhibition), but you get glimpses of the treasure trove of original art in the director's home. Those with quick eyes will spy part of one of the Gorey's shown above to the right of one of the life sized characters from Freaks.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Auction News

Swann Auction Galleries continues its tradition of semiannual Illustration Art auctions with the upcoming March 21 sale. Over the past several years, the Swann auctions have become the place to find rare and unusual original artwork by Edward Gorey.

This auction features eleven lots which include six book cover/dust wrapper designs as well as original artwork from Mr. Gorey's theatrical work. The works being offered span the decades from early 1950's works to mid career pieces from the 1970's and into the 1980's.

For more information on the auction go to

Monday, February 20, 2017


Originating from the University of California, Consumption magazine focused on poetry and is an appropriately titled publication to look for a cover drawn by Edward Gorey. In the summer of 1968, Mr. Gorey provided a cover design for Volume 1 Number 4 that features an unrecognized poet who is reduced to eating his writing to survive. The coffin shaped framing device surrounding him like a doorway hints at his impending doom.