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halloween wishes

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

A happy Halloween doodle just for you! Whether you’re sitting home downing fun-size candy watching spooky movies or if you are out getting your spook on, I hope you have a great Halloween. To those witchy friends, have a beautiful Samhain. Now, lets get Gorey and honor a great artist and author!

The Edward Gorey exhibit runs through Oct 31 at the Orlando Museum of Art and it’s fantastic. I went on a mini-road trip with the Crafty Hag and her guy on Sunday and we all agree seeing his work in person was really an amazing experience. They had original sketches, loads of pen and ink pages from many different books, some of his dolls, pop-ups…you name it. (Well, everything except his saucy, naughty limericks – that side of him was left out entirely) They had the actual little books available to read right alongside the illustrations so you could take a few minutes to read the book the work came out of. I’ve read lots of his little books and read a lot about Gorey himself, but this was the first time I saw any of it in person. His work is detailed beyond comprehension…so many teeny tiny ink marks!

If you don’t know who Edward Gorey is, you really need to go to a library or bookstore and find out. He is easily the greatest inspiration behind GingerDead and loads of other spooky artists’ work. Gorey used saucy and macabre limericks alongside dark illustrations. When I started using haiku I didn’t make the connection, but soon realized that I was following in his footsteps in a small way. If you look at my stuff and think Tim Burton, I suggest you look at Tim Burton’s work and think Edward Gorey. All of us in this spooky, charming genre owe Mr. Gorey’s spirit a nod. It makes me sad when people don’t know who he was…especially people who love dark art or literature.

Okay, I know I’ve linked to his stuff before but it’s been a couple years I think so I’ll refresh you. The most well-known book is his Gashleycrumb Tinies which is one of his alphabet books. Each letter is a different child’s name and the page illustrates and explains how each child meets an untimely demise. Neville dies of ennui. When I renamed my character, I chose the word Ennui not only because it’s a name I associated with myself before in Second Life, but because it was a homage to Gorey and I hoped a wink to Gorey fans.

Here’s a few example pages of the Gashleycrumb Tinies book –




One of my favorite stories is The Doubtful Guest starring a strange creature that simply wont go away. He causes some havoc and is a bit of a weirdo. Our friend pointed out that this character seems very much like it was inspired by a cat. I have to agree the behavior is a lot like living with a crazy cat. The character design always reminded me a bit of a plague doctor though. See what you think:


Edward Gorey also did amazing work in theater like costume and set design. Dracula probably being the most well known (and most bad-ass in my opinion). Here’s Mr. Gorey in front of the set from an old newspaper clipping:


I love this illustration from his Dracula works. You’ll notice the hedges are trimmed into a strange topiary design. I’ve seen this before but didn’t realize it was something he did an awful lot. These animal shaped topiaries appear in many of his books. I wonder if Tim Burton was inspired by them because they sure reminded me of Edward Scissorhands. I found out from my friend that nearby Gorey’s home in New England she saw a place that has been around since the 1920s that had these animal hedges for sale or on display or something. We can only assume that is why they came up in his illustrations so much. I love little tidbits like that.


Okay, that’s enough to pique your interest I hope. Please check out a few Gorey books from your library or bookstore and pass his work on to your friends. He only passed away 10 years ago. I sure hope his work lives on beyond his wildest dreams.

See you next week!
<3 calan

10 Responses to “halloween wishes”

  1. Darlene Says:

    have you ever noticed that after people die is normally when most people start to hear about that a terrible same. i had a blonde moment and could remember who he was even though i have heard it before then you started talking about Tim Burton and i remembered. concussions are such a pain. Anyway do you know anything about airbrushes because my needle keeps getting stuck in the tip. i took the whole thing apart and put in a new needle, tip, washers, and a screw. and it still keeps jamming up in there. maybe its the paint you think?

  2. Seraphine Says:

    children at the door.
    through masks they say: trick or treat!
    my trick is to make

    small children into
    pie filling. delicious pies,
    tender pies, my treat.

  3. calan Says:

    hey darlene, i’m not experienced with airbrush but clogging generally means too thick. maybe the paint is drying and getting a bit goopy. just the slightest change would cause it to block when you’re dealing with a fine tip. idk what kind of paint it is but if it’s acrylic based maybe mix it with an extender that prolongs drying or thin it out some. good luck!

    Seraphine – love the haiku!

  4. cooliocooliest Says:

    C is for Candy
    Who ate some candy, tasting
    odd, like cyanide.

    T is for Tina
    Who’s trick or treating led to
    untimely demise.

    I fail, and must continue to read about this wonderful man, Mr. Gorey! (Is that a pseudonym or is his name just adorably ironic?)

  5. Amanda Says:

    Happy Holidays of spooky horror and good cheer to all no matter what your color creed or religion status. I myself will celebrate by taking small children by the hand and leading them door to door while donned in a costume shouting at strangers for candy. Why do we condone the act of accepting candy from strangers on this one day but normally we tell kids to steer clear of all candy any stranger may ever give them ever? I understand adults are supposed to check the candy first but really… doesn’t this yearly ritual seem a bit hypocritical? Then small children gorge on sugary snacks for weeks *or days in my family as it goes by so quickly* yet another thing we specifically tell them not to do… but its alright as long as it is in the spirit of the holiday.

  6. Monkeybones Says:

    I open the door
    to a tall figure wearing
    a long, beak-like mask.

    He pauses on the step
    with glassy red eyes staring
    as if hesitant.

    I hold out candy
    from the big glass party bowl
    it drops into his

    outstretched glove as if
    this was all the tribute that
    he wanted from me.

    He turns slowly round
    and I watch him disappear
    into the evening.

  7. Matthew Says:

    The doubtful guest reminds me of a penguin.

    Seraphine i knew there was a reason i liked you.

    Amanda you could always go back to the origin of the holiday and celebrate Samhain instead. Only problem with that is it would force us to be a community again, eww.

    The Gorey work is damn good and the funny thing is i totally forgot it existed until you showed it here. I even used to have some of his work. Odd how you can forget things like that.

    Tiny excited
    children at my door
    Oh the cuteness how it burns!

  8. Seraphine Says:

    amada: children see ghosts in the closet and think of monsters hiding under their beds. even clothes folded neatly on a chair morph into scary shapes in the dark. so one night a year, on halloween, children go out into the night and see behind the facade of their fears.

    being an adult sitting in front of the television watching dexter while eating a giant bowl chocolate pudding, smoking cigarettes and drinking beer– now *that’s* being hypocritical– saying one thing to children (“be good”) while doing something decadent yourself. kids notice these things…

    darlene: how old is the paint you are using? it might be time to buy a fresh batch.

    thank you calan.
    i like you too, matthew.
    and that’s a great poem, monkeybones.

  9. calan Says:

    loving all the comments and poems today! thanks everyone.

    coolio, his name is totally Gorey. you can see the envelopes he would send letters in to his sister who had the same last name. his envelopes, btw, were elaborately illustrated just like his books and the sisters name and addy in the tiniest letters. he did all the lettering of the books himself to. no font for mr gorey but his own hands. too cool.

    amanda – you’re right about the taking candy from strangers thing. i remember as a kid there were the urban legends about the razor blades in apples and poisoned chocolate so we’d go through it and anything that the wrapping was a little off you’d assume was arsenic laced, lol. homemade anything was trashed because it was probably made by a bitter spinster who wanted all children to die (not really of course, just in our paranoid heads) i kinda liked it. it put an element of danger in the candy feast. did you miss any warning signs on that snickers or did you just want it too badly to bother to inspect it? it might be your last treat ever….mmm, that just makes it taste sweeter!

  10. Amanda Says:

    Matthew I do in fact celebrate Samhain however my family does not. But an agoraphobic wiccan doesn’t do well with community. Yea Calan i prefered the days when your parents threw out more than half the stuff you brought home… it made it less likely that you’d eat it all in one night and you’d stash it under your bed and hoard it for months. Now most kids only really have to worry about the creepy neighbor with the van.

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