The Tunnel Calamity

“There is a beginning and an end, between which lay eight frames, eight chapters. No text, no narrative, yet each chapter or frame conveys a story, adjoining figures linked by a visual, prose-free continuity. There is suspense, wonder, intrigue and deception. It’s a mystery. Try to discern Gorey’s plotline or construct your own. What was on the plaque before it was surreptitously switched? Does the dancing statuary forestall doom or deception? Why does ULUUS have such a Big Nose? “

This amazing tunnel book is concertina folded and glued and includes a convex lens in the front fold to look through. The detailed artwork is shown off spectacularly in this amazing arrangement which harks back to the 1984 original.

Take at this book in action:

tunnel book production

The history of a tunnel book

Produced for Pomegranate and packaged into a sturdy box, this was first published in 1984 when it graced Tower Books’ shelves. They sold quickly and sparked many enquries long after it went out of print.

Thirty years later, The Tunnel Calamity returns, and its reappearance spurs an investigation into the history of the tunnel book. It turns out that the book that Gorey built was based on ‘peepshow’ books designed to showcase the Thames Tunnel, the world’s first subaquatic tunnel, constructed in London between 1825 and 1843. British, French and German publishers quickly capitalized on its popularity by dramatizing this latest engineering marvel in 3D paper. The Thames Tunnel was the first of many such projects, and the resulting genre of playful yet informative peepshow books became known as ‘tunnel books’, with or without much calamity.

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