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My awakening to the art of Edward Gorey was during my college years. In a drawing class, my teacher, Father Sullivan, had us study various illustrators whose medium of choice was pen/ink/pencil. Gorey was one of those chosen for study.

I was intrigued. Seeing a Gorey cartoon or illustration in The New Yorker was always a delight--like watching kittens play or reading Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats* for the gazillionth time. Gorey characterized his work as "whimsically macabre." He was a natural as an artist and incredibly, completely self-taught.

If you're a Tim Burton fan, you'll be interested in knowing that Gorey was one of his inspirations. But a major difference between Gorey and Burton is that Gorey disliked having his work referred to as macabre or creepy. He took care never to portray explicit violence. Gorey used anxiety-provoking situations to tickle a sense of terror in his readers. And then he'd layer on the humor.

The home that Gorey inhabited in Cape Cod now houses his museum. so there's still a whole lot more you can learn about him. (note to self: add to bucket list.)


* T.S. Eliot author; Edward Gorey illustrator

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