SCARY STOCKING STUFFERS
Ghost story aficionados will appreciate a new series called Christmas Ghost Stories (Biblioasis), selected and illustrated by Seth. Seth is one of Canada’s most spellbinding artists, and his retro graphics blend seamlessly with these selected tales. (Note: for current information on Seth’s work, please refer to the latest issue of Devil’s Artisan (#78), for the essay “Heading to Palookaville: Seth and the Art of Graphic Autobiography,” by Tom Smart, curator of the Peel Art Gallery.) The five initial offerings in Christmas Ghost Stories are enduring examples of the classic English-language short story: “The Signalman” (1866) by Charles Dickens, “Afterward” (1910) by Edith Wharton, “The Diary of Mr. Poynter” (1919) by M.R. James, “One Who Saw” (1931) by A.M. Burrage and “The Crown Derby Plate” (1931) by Elizabeth Bowen. There are also plans to publish more recent authors in future volumes, such as Robert Aickman and Shirley Jackson, two writers whose legacy of other-worldly vision is unparalleled. As the cover blurb explains: “Reading a ghost story on Christmas Eve was once as much a part of traditional Christmas celebrations as turkey, eggnog, and Santa Claus.” I was aware of this only from many seasons of hearing Andy Williams lift his velvety voice to “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”; as you may recall, the bridge goes, “There’ll be scary ghost stories / And tales of the glories / Of Christmases long, long ago...” The most phantasmal of these first five stories is Edith Wharton’s “Afterward”; the most chilling book cover is “The Crown Derby Plate.” Don’t take my word for it; have a look at these during some appropriately shadowdriven, mist-filled evening. Hopefully this series can revive some of the sharing and interactivity that we’ve all but lost in the digital era.