The 261st meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday,  December 3, 2019 at 7pm at Parsons School of Design, University Center, 63 Fifth Avenue, room UL 105 (lower level). Free and open to the public.

Mark Dery on Nursery Crimes: Edward Gorey’s Morbid Nonsense.

Critics never quite knew what to make of Edward Gorey (1925-2000), the author and illustrator whose darkly droll tales of murder, mayhem, and discreet depravity have influenced Neil Gaiman, Guillermo Del Toro, and Lemony Snicket, among others. His use of nonsense verse and the picture- book format, his mock-moralistic tone, and his densely crosshatched pen-and- ink style, reminiscent of 19th-century engravings, have led more than a few readers to mistake his books for Victorian children’s literature. Yet the camp- macabre wit and disquieting subject matter of titles like The Loathsome Couple (inspired by the true-crime exploits of a pair of child-killers) and The Gashlycrumb Tinies (an ABC book that reels off the deaths of 26 little dears in rhyming couplets) make it clear that Gorey’s books—for all their black comedy—are the stuff of nursery nightmares. In this illustrated lecture, cultural critic Mark Dery, author of Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey, reveals the surprisingly serious themes woven through his oeuvre: death, sexuality, the human condition, the meaning (or meaninglessness?) of life, the ghastliness of fruitcakes. As well, he explores the obscure influences—and Freudian shadows—haunting Gorey’s whimsically sinister body of work.

Mark Dery is a cultural critic best known for his essays on Afrofuturism (a term he coined) and culture jamming (a phenomenon he popularized). His byline has appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Elle, Wired, and Bookforum. He has been a professor of journalism at NYU and taught in the Yale School of Art. Dery’s books include Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century (translated into eight languages); The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium, a study of America on the brink; an essay collection, I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts; and a biography, Born To Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey, named one of the Best books of 2018 by NPR, The Guardian, andMental Floss.