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156: Gorey, Part II

September 23, 2013

Last week I looked at a chunk of Anchor Doubleday paperbacks from the 1950s and 60s with covers by Edward Gorey. You can see them and read it HERE. Last week I was focusing on the utter lonesomeness of the figures in Gorey’s covers, and this week I found a couple covers where the figures have completely vanished, where Gorey simply captures stark landscapes. Each of the two here are both bleak and unforgiving: Travels in Arabia Deserta shows a desolate brown field with slightly darker peaks sprouting from it; American Puritans shows a nearly barren landscape populated by dead trees and lonely boulders, all under a bright red sun.

A number of Gorey covers are simple hand-drawn type treatments, where his unique hand is used to great effect in creating typographic designs. The two Kierkegaard books below are good examples of this.

The Edmund Wilson book below is an even more austere example, where if you look close you can see that ALL the type on the cover is hand drawn, but that it is so clean here as to look like a machined font. When I saw all the type is hand drawn, I actually do mean all. This includes the price, series number, and publisher info. This attention to detail is astounding, and also present on most of the covers last week. Even the Anchor logo is drawn and redrawn multiple times.

Below are three different examples of where Gorey created the typography, but did not do the cover illustrations (and it is unclear if he had a hand in the design). In each case the type is much looser than when he has full control, and in the case of Castiglione, it’s almost a scribble.

My friend Ethan turned me on to some really funny mini-comics about these Edward Gorey covers done by Kate Beaton. She’s got multiple pages of them, a couple of which can be read HERE and HERE. Next week I’ll pull out some final Gorey covers, and give a full bibliography of all the covers included my series.

Culture & Media

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