ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 5.04 - JULY 2000

The MYSTERY! of Edward Gorey
(continued from page 1)

Joan was patient and diplomatic, suggesting that Edward let me go through his books, ponder his genius and come back with an alternative approach. And thus agreed we parted.

"The light was fading from the day, the rest was darkness and dismay."

In Montreal, with my small animation team, I poured over fifty or more Gorey classics, The Doubtful Guest, The Curious-sofa, Sopping Thursday, The Glorious Nosebleed.... He drew so well, so precisely, an exquisite pen line. His writing and drawing skills rivaled that of his heroes Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear and Aubrey Beardsley. The elegant staging of his images had the influence of his spiritual Master, dance choreographer George Balanchine; Gorey admitted to seeing every New York performance Balanchine staged for thirty years.

But what was the real fascination of Gorey's work? Take The Loathsome Couple, in which a man and women meet, fail at their efforts of copulation, but discover their mutual interest as serial killers of young children.

"Over the next two years they killed three more children
but it was never as exhilarating as the first one had been."

His work seemed inspired by the worst of human nature and of the highest forms of art. This was the contradiction I believe Gorey presented in his work, and he did it over and over. As readers we become enticed with the sheer brilliance of his art....then to find he's delivering us a reminder of the darkest sides of ourselves; or in the words of Edmund Wilson, "It is poetry and poison." We are fascinated and repelled.

"He dazzles us, but can we trust,
these pictures drawn upon the dust?"

Scenes and characters for our animated titles developed faithful to Gorey. I created a series of innocent moments, which would allow the viewer's mind to imagine many sinister details. The first episode of MYSTERY!went on the air in the fall of 1980 and various title versions have continued since. Whatever Edward thought of it all he typically never got around to telling me; but without a doubt the exposure of the Gorey name on PBS for twenty years brought a much wider public to his work.

"Be loath to drink Indian Ink."

I was very sad to hear of Edward's death, to read the obituaries and remembrances that came from all over the world; on NPR, Terry Gross re-played an interview and there was his voice again, alternately enthused and bored; all the contradictions; at one moment talking about his beloved TV soaps and the next confessing he'd been a French literature major at Harvard.

I recalled being with him one chilly winter afternoon in New York (it was an Ogdred Weary day), Gorey dressed in his signature ankle length raccoon fur coat, blue jeans and white sneakers, and I'm running to keep up and blabbing excitedly, "Edward, isn't it great the Mobil Playhousepeople are dying to produce a TV special with us." He's silent for half a block then replies wearily, "Oh, it's ALL sooo tiresome!" Edward never stopped reminding us that life is just impossible.

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