The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy
The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy has to be one of the best kept secrets by fans of the macabre! It is a poetry book written and illustrated by Tim Burton - that's right, the Tim Burton responsible for all of your favorites: Beetlejuice, Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands... the list goes on and on, and he's no strange to the world of weird. But did anybody know in 1997 he had a collection of strange and eerie poems published?! And that he brought the characters to life through not only illustration but by the toy collection that followed, Tim Burton's Tragic Toys for Girls & Boys?! If you didn't already know, then now you do - and I honestly cannot recommend to you enough to go grab yourself a copy, it's exquisite.
The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy - or just "Oyster Boy" - is a collection of 23 poems, some short and to the point, and others a little longer and tell more of a story. But the thing that is so excellent about it is that each poem is about a different spooky, strange, and flat out bizarre character that came out of Tim Burton's extraordinary mind. The titles of each poem is the name of the character in the poem; for example, "Jimmy, the Hideous Penguin Boy," "The Pin Cushion Queen," and one of my personal favorites, "The Boy with Nails in his Eyes." If you couldn't tell, the poems are all dark humor with a little twist of cuteness to it. The poems are just the perfect balance of sad, funny, cute, and horrifying all at the same time, with stories ranging from a poor boy with a melon for a head to a superhero whose only power was to leave a stain where ever he went to the girl who turned into a bed! Yeah, these short stories go way out there, and I couldn't be more in love with it.
Just a few years ago, Dark Horse Comics brought the characters from The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy to life when they created the Tragic Toys for Girls & Boys set of toys, which featured twelve of the iconic characters from the poems. They come in sets of three and are the perfect companion to the Oyster Boy book. The artwork for the book - and later, the toys - are in true Burton fashion: they all have the qualities to them that one can suddenly come across one of his illustrations and easily identify that it's one of Tim Burton's designs.
If you are at all interested in reading the stories of Oyster Boy and his unfortunate friends, someone has set up a website here where you can read all of the stories and see all of the amazing illustrations online. But, I'd highly suggest you pick up a physical hardcopy of the book before doing so - this is just one of those books that you will appreciate so much more by having it in your hands and seeing it up close and person. You can snag yourself a copy of this delightful darkness on Amazon here in hardcover or paper back form!