I came across Edward Gorey by way of Jon Andrews, one of my college teachers, about 4 years ago. Since then I've had the sustaining belief that the terms "picturebook" or "children's literature" have a wide variaty of content, subject matter and even stylistic choices. The Gashlycrumb Tinies is a good example, it includes 26 illustrations for the 26 letters of the alphabet corresponding to the first letter of each child featured in each illustration. Every child in each illustration dies pretty horrific deaths, the most disturbing, for me, being Kate who was struck with an axe.
The West Wing is the second Gorey book I purchased. It contains 30 illustrations of different views inside one house. It's bizarre, complete with faint spectres in the walls and often even more obscure and subtle hints that things aren't quite "right" in the West Wing. I have no idea if any of these illustrations are connected, if there's even a specific story trying to be told, but it's an interesting and unsettling flip through. Please let me know if you have any insights about it!
My third Gorey book is actually an essay by former New York Times art director, Steven Heller to accompany about 100 images of Edward Gorey's book cover designs. That's right, Edward Gorey was a very accomplished designer and typographer. This book "Edward Gorey: his book cover art & design" is awesome. I love the intersection of art and typography and this book showcases some really beautiful work by Gorey. Buy it for around $25 on Amazon or ask your local bookseller to order it for you.
Personally these books are a fantastic look back at someone who had an extremely unique voice and wasn't afraid to use it. They also give me hope that design can be successfully "handmade". As an illustrator I'm a little more moved at the squiggly lines and imperfect letters of Gorey's drawn design style than most of the super clean design today.
Glad I could share this guy with you if you hadn't already heard of him. Go share him with someone else!