Wednesday, 9 September 2009

290: Gorey Goes Gay 5

“Happy Endings” by Edward Gorey in “National Lampoon” March 1973

The “National Lampoon” issue for March 1973 had the theme of “Sweetness and Light”. This was partly playing against type as the magazine that prided itself on its propensity to shock and offend with scabrous satire or sheer bad taste. Gorey was an occasional contributor to “National Lampoon”, and so offered several pages of “Happy Endings”. Part of the joke being that Gorey’s work are renowned for their endings which are either morbid or indecipherable in a “L’Avventura” manner. So each of the panels is the conclusion to some unknown story, but now an Edward Gorey-style happy ending. Curiously, Gorey’s “Happy Endings” has never been collected.

This is sort of sweet I suppose. Although there I have an underlying suspicion that part of the joke is that the public would think that the idea of marriage between two men in the early 1970s was a silly thing.

This is surprisingly un-Gorey-like. It’s explicit for a start. You don’t expect Gorey to offer a take on “Midnight Cowboy” and male hustlers. And you really don’t expect Edward Gorey to use phrases like “biggest basket”. And that this should be a happy ending is unusual. But then Gorey’s works rarely encompass the contemporary. The chap on the left has overly beringed, fluttery hands, and is also shouldering a man-purse. What the hell the object is in front of the young hustler I don’t know though.


Bloglion said...

I believe there is a mailbox there, covering up the fair-looking lad's "basket." Just a thought.

Mark said...

The object is question is a Manhattan trash basket, circa 1970. They were to be found along Fifth Avenue, and we painted in a striking gold-tone. The base was concrete to prevent tipping.

Anonymous said...

Typical of Edward Gorey, this has layers of meaning and can be read in many ways. Whose happy ending is it? Is the boy on the left happy because he's finally in New York? Or is the man on the right happy because of the boy on the left? Or is it actually the reverse: in fact a tragedy that the boy has gone to New York, about to lose his innocence? Or that the man on the right is realizing what he's lost? Not happy endings at all.

John Nelson said...

Marvelous. Just discovered this, in Feb. 2016. I happen to be a clergyman in Niantic, CT - and as far as I know, the only one serving a church where we happily marry same-sex couples who want a church ceremony. Thank you, Mr. Gorey!