We talk a lot about gothic authors, but what about gothic illustrators? Whether they're creating images to supplement your favorite gothic books or telling their own stories through cartoons and comics, illustrators are at the intersection of art and literature, combining goth's literary roots with the visual elements so central to its aesthetic. That's why I want to take this time to introduce you to three of my favorite illustrators with a signature spooky style.
1. Gustave Doré (1832–1883)
This French artist was particularly popular among the literary crowd of the mid-1800s. He is best known for his work on illustrated editions of popular classics such as Milton's Paradise Lost, Dante's Inferno, Cervantes' Don Quixote, and even the Bible. Just before his death, he also produced 26 gorgeous engravings to go with Edgar Allan Poe's most famous poem "The Raven," which are some of my personal favorite pieces of art. His haunting style was well suited to works of literature with a darker bent.
2. Charles Addams (1912–1998)
You know his creations if not the creator himself. Charles Addams in the American cartoonist behind the iconic Addams Family. He worked primary as an artist for The New Yorker, where he published strange and surreal cartoons of city life, such as Medusa getting her snake-hair done at a beauty salon and giant hands emerging from subway entrances. This magazine is also where many of his Addams Family cartoons first appeared. Since debuting in 1938, the Addams Family has gone on to inspire multiple film and television adaptations and its characters have become foundational style icons for the goth subculture.
3. Edward Gorey (1925–2000)
Gorey was another cartoonist and a contemporary of Charles Addams. While Addams tended to print one-off cartoons in magazines, Gorey published many of his works in self-contained books. He got his start doing cover art and occasional book illustrations for works like Bram Stoker's Dracula and H. G. Well's The War of the Worlds before later moving on to working with children's books. His own illustrated books were popular with children, as well, although given their grim subject matters and depictions of violence, one might hesitate to truly call them "children's books." He published over 100 books featuring his characteristic pen-and-ink illustrations, which blend the whimsical and the macabre, often in Victorian and Edwardian settings. One of his most well-known works is The Gashlycrumb Tinies, a satirical ABC book that presents illustrated rhyming couplets about a child dying an untimely death for each letter of the alphabet.
Are you familiar with these illustrators and their works? Are there any others that you would add to the list. Let me know in the comments!
Written By: TheGothicLibrarian