Author: Ray Bradbury | Illustrator: Dave McKean | Page Count: 56
'And to roars of laughter the chilly hand and the cold moon face lurched away in the roundabout dance.'
Part of the WISP series (Wonderfully Illustrated Short Pieces), Homecoming is a meeting of two exceptionally creative minds: American author Ray Bradbury and British illustrator Dave McKean. The former is my favourite American author; I can connect many of the significant moments in my life to a particular Bradbury novel I was reading at the time. McKean is perhaps best known for—and partly responsible for—the enduring success of The Sandman comic book series. Both are giants in their respective field.
The text, featuring a ten year-old boy named Timothy, was originally included in The October Country (1955), a collection of macabre-themed shorts. Timothy is a normal kid with normal thoughts. That's the problem. The rest of his family are vampires, ghouls and things that bump in the night.
During All Hallows' Eve the family gather for an old fashioned get-together, but Timothy's being normal means he feels different, unable to fit in. It’s a reversal of the usual 'weird kid that doesn't fit into society' tale and Bradbury finds the heart of the story effortlessly without sacrificing the innocence and beauty of childhood. Thematically it’s about family, identity, love and the magic of youth.
It's not McKean's best work but it fits the aesthetic of the story for which it was designed, with scribble lines and dark shadows prevalent. In truth, even without the illustrations it would be a top scoring tale.
5 smiles for Uncle Einar out of 5