But until the last few years true Gorey devotees were a secret society, wearing Gorey-philia like a Masonic ring. Now, however, their numbers have swelled. The writer Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket, said, “When I was first writing ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events,’ I was wandering around everywhere saying, ‘I am a complete rip-off of Edward Gorey,’ and everyone said, ‘Who’s that?’ Now, everyone says, ‘That’s right, you are a complete rip-off of Edward Gorey.’ ”
Tim Burton owes an obvious debt to Gorey, as do Rob Reger, creator of the goth gamine Emily the Strange, and Neil Gaiman, the author of the novella “Coraline.” Mr. Gaiman has an original Gorey drawing of “children gathered around a sickbed” hanging on his bedroom wall; he wanted Gorey to illustrate “Coraline,” he said, but he “died the day I finished it.”
Gorey illustrations are even becoming voguish as tattoos. Last year the ninth-season “American Idol” finalist Siobhan Magnus had a biceps tattoo of Death playing nanny to a flock of soon-to-be-doomed children, from “The Gashlycrumb Tinies,” Gorey’s grimly funny alphabet book.
I consider this a good thing. This is perhaps my favorite part: “That worldview — that a well-timed scathing remark might shame an uncouth person into acting better — seems worthy to me,” Mr. Handler said. Indeed it is.