This edition of The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories was published in the UK in 1998 in a superior, cloth-bound, limited-signed-and-numbered edition, complete with slip-case. I can't remember how much it cost, but – suffice it to say – it wasn't cheap. But as a committed fan of that wild genius, Tim Burton, I had to own it!
The story of Oyster Boy is a curious and tragic little tale and – together with the other characters and episodes in this dark little volume – feels like an unholy child of those two masters of mournful histories: Edward Lear and Edward Gorey...
I've had a number of encounters with Tim Burton over the years: interviewing him on the release of several of his films, including Batman, Mars Attacks, Ed Wood and Alice in Wonderland (as well as being the unheard 'prompter' for his audio commentary on The Nightmare Before Christmas) and, as a result, a number of signed items have accrued from those meetings.
When Sleepy Hollow had its UK release in 1999, I interviewed him about the film at London's Dorchester Hotel and took Oyster Boy along with me, hoping that I might be able to get my already signed copy 'upgraded' with a personal inscription. The conversation went like this...
SIBLEY: This is a really easy autograph request –– you’ve already signed the book, so all I’m asking is whether you’d be kind enough to add a personal dedication.
BURTON: Well, since I’m saving on the ink I’d have used to write ‘Tim
Burton’, I’ll use it to do you a little drawing!