The Dispatch office has been riding a Halloween high all week. The madness began with a pumpkin carving contest—our web guy Nick swooped in and won with his amazing and unexpected portrait of Jeff Goldblum—but it seems to only amplify each day as we consume more and more candy. At least, that’s how it’s been working out for me. I think the sugar is going to my head.
It’s just that time of year. However, there are only so many times one can re-watch Cabin in the Woods before one’s brain begins to melt and slowly ooze gray matter and neurological sludge out of one’s ears. And that’s why I decided to take a break from all the mental junk food and check out some more highfalutin Halloween fare. Enter: Edward Gorey.
You’re probably already familiar with Gorey’s work (if you’re not, just imagine if Tim Burton and Quentin Blake were mashed into one person—that’s pretty much Gorey in a nutshell). The New England-based writer and illustrator was quite prolific and produced dozens of macabre little books, most famously the abecedarian book The Gashlycrumb Tinies. Like my all-time favorite author Roald Dahl, Gorey makes books for kids that are creepy, weird, and not at all cheerful. Instead of sugarcoating childhood, he plays on all the darker themes. “K is for Kate, who was struck with an axe,” reads my favorite line of the morbid poem, which details the deaths of 26 children (all in rhyme, naturally). As in all of Gorey’s work, disaster is around every corner, but with his whimsical style and humorous tones, disaster actually looks kind of fun.
That’s not to say I want to get struck with an axe. I just don’t think I would mind an untimely death quite so much if it were recorded by the likes of Gorey. Sadly, he passed away in 2000, so unless he’s up for some ectoplasmic artistry, I’m shit out of luck.
But you can still check out some of Gorey’s work at the Portland Public Library. Just in time for Halloween, the show “Elegant Enigmas” has come to Maine. It will be housed in the Lewis Gallery from October 5 to December 29, which gives you more than enough time to stop over and see how your sketchy little doppelgänger kicks the bucket.
For more details, visit the Portland Public Library’s webpage.