This archived article was written by: Erin Page
Starting last August, many friends got together to “kill people” – or at least pretend to. The idea to recreate “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” by Edward Gory has always been stirring in the heads of sisters Jenna Rae Jepson and her younger sister Brittany.
The idea is credited to their grandma, who ownes the original Gashlycrumb Tinies. Asking who wanted to be involved, Jenna recruited friends to help with recreating Edward Gory’s unique storybook of children who all perish in unusual ways as they travel through the ABCs. Stephanie Koss exclaimed, “Heck yes,” she wanted to be help, while Luke Prince became involved in the photography aspects. These three friends soon became the head of the project and created an organization titled Violet’s Lullabies – an organization that hopes to begin writing books and such, someday growing hopefully into a publishing company.
In August 2007, Jenna, Koss and Prince started photographing Edward Gory’s story from the drawings in the book. Starting with “A for Amy who fell down the stairs,” Koss dressed in costume, posed at the bottom of a large set of stairs and became the human face to the illustrated cartoon figure of Amy from Gory’s book. Ending the project in September, the group, now made up of about 20 adults, stood around after midnight watching Gory’s Quenton – who sank in a mire – and Olive – run through with an awl – become live people posing dead for a few pictures.
Prince placed the final two photos with the other 24 to finish his book, replacing Gory’s illustrations with photos of each scene. Finally finished and printed the next day, the small book sits slightly bigger than a business card, and no taller than a 99 cent notebook found at WalMart.
Kayla Knight states the work is “amazing. They [everyone] did an excellent job.”
With Gory already dead, his house was turned into a museum – a standing monument dubbed smartly the Edward Gory House. Sending a copy there not long ago, Jenna says, “We aren’t allowed to sell it, but we can distribute it. We are hoping they [The Edward Gory House] buy the publishing rights to it.”
Troy Olson who played Ernest, who choked on a peach, got involved because he says, “I look good as a dead guy.” Jenna and Koss comment on how they decided who to use as what character, “[We] called dibs on a few of them … whoever was available.” Then they both smile, “We took volunteers. Who wants to die next?”
The process to killing a person? “Lots and lots of make-up,” comments Olson. “Lots of dark make-up,” Jenna and Koss agree, then add laughing, “a knife usually works or a blunt object, extreme weather conditions.”
Out of the pictures taken, Jenna favors the one of George (played by Matt Perry) – smothered under a rug, Koss favors Desmond (played by Prince) – thrown out of a sleigh.
Photography student Kaitlyn Ebert can’t pick a favorite, but said, “It is very good quality photography. The composition of black and white, the colors, they’re amazing … the composition is well done. It’s not over the top. The main focus is the person, but there are other points of interest in each picture. It isn’t just this blah of a dead person.”
Jenna and Koss recognize all costumes were bought at DI, and want everyone to “check out our [Violet’s Lullabies] MySpace,” as they are working on other projects.
Found on their myspace page, they say about themselves, “We write stories and turn them into picture books. The stories we choose to write/remake are rather gory and morbid. A lot of people think we are strange.”