First appearing as the short story “The Black Ferris” in the May 1948 issue of Weird Tales, accompanied by a suitably gruesome illustration by Lee Brown Coye, Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes went through an intermediate stage as an unproduced screen treatment for Gene Kelly in 1955 before the author expanded it into the novel published by Simon & Schuster in 1962.
If Bradbury’s 1957 novel Dandelion Wine is the summer panel in the author’s nostalgic portrait of childhood in small-town America, Something Wicked This Way Comes may be considered its darker autumnal counterpart. The magic that had imbued everyday life in the fictional town of Green Town, Illinois in the earlier episodic novel here becomes incarnate in the shape of Mr. Dark and his carnival; but all these new marvels cast shadows, teasing at innocence while attempting to corrupt it, and promising wonders that take morality and mortality as their toll.
It is a skillfully woven work, which captures dread and heroism, horror and lyricism, power and compassion in equal measure, with characters as venal or lovable as any we may encounter in real life.
Jack Clayton’s 1983 film for Disney recreated much of the book’s plot and atmosphere for the screen, but there is a verbal sorcery at play in Ray Bradbury’s novel, which only he could capture.
This new edition of Something Wicked This Way Comes includes a new introduction by Neil Gaiman, the complete novel, two interviews with Ray Bradbury, and a fifteen page gallery of artwork associated with the novel, including old editions, unused movie poster concepts, and several original hardcover and paperback artworks, reprinted in their original glory, many of them seeing publication in this form for the first time ever.
The artwork is especially dazzling. Along with the archival art by Gray Foy, Ian Miller, Joseph Mugnaini, and Bob Peak, there are several stereoscopic illustrations by David Ho, which come to 3D life when viewed with a special viewer, including in the back of each book, five wood engravings by renowned artist Vladimir Zimakov, and a stunning full-color, wraparound dustjacket by Matt Mahurin, all combined with marbled endsheets, ribbon marker, stamped cloth, and a capped slipcase.