The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy: and Other Stories (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

“Unwisely, Santa offered a teddy bear to James, unaware that he had been mauled by a grizzly earlier that year.”

Leave it to the creator of Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and The Nightmare Before Christmas to serve up a holiday treat that’s dark, gloomy, and deliciously gruesome. This collection of poems with illustrations by the author tells tales of unusual children and their even more unusual fates. Stick Boy. Voodoo Girl. Melonhead. The Pin Cushion Queen. Mummy Boy. Junk Girl. These are just some of the unfortunates whose short lives and macabre deaths fill the pages of this strange little book. 

Lest you think this might be a fun book for kids like some other of Burton’s (marginally) family-friendly offerings, a word of caution. These tales and their accompanying illustrations are not really appropriate for kids, in this uncle of young nieces’ opinion. The title character is a good example: Oyster Boy is conceived after his father consumes an inordinate amount of shellfish in an attempt to improve his sexual prowess following complaints from his wife. Stick Boy finds his attraction to Match Girl fatal when the heat of his arousal ignites her and burns him to a cinder. The Boy With Nails In His Eyes is another (self-explanatory) example. Most of the characters in this book die ignoble deaths of varying degrees of depravity that might be disturbing for young readers. But for adults this bizarre little tome is amusingly toxic fun. 

Burton was an artist (at Disney no less!) before he became a filmmaker. His ability to create characters who simultaneously engage your empathy, sympathy, pity, and sense of humor is on glorious display here. Seuss-esque poetry provides priceless accompaniment to the drawings. 

Holiday Gift Alert!

This edition of The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories has been handsomely repackaged for the holiday season. It’s a perfect gift for any Tim Burton fan, goth enthusiast, or weary person who wants an antidote to the oppressive cheerfulness the season forces on us all. Ebeneezer Scrooge would’ve been pleased to find Oyster Boy in his stocking Christmas morning.

— Wade Brown


The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy is a collection of charmingly weird tales conjured from the unique imagination of acclaimed filmmaker Tim Burton—a great gift idea for fans of the acclaimed filmmaker.

From breathtaking stop-action animation to bittersweet modern fairy tales, filmmaker Tim Burton has become known for his unique visual brilliance—witty and macabre at once. Now, he gives birth to a cast of gruesomely sympathetic children—misunderstood outcasts who struggle to find love and belonging in their cruel, cruel worlds. His lovingly lurid illustrations evoke both the sweetness and tragedy of these dark yet simple beings—hopeless, hapless heroes who appeal to the ugly outsider in all of us, and let us laugh at a world we have long left behind (mostly, anyway).

About the Author

Tim Burton, director and artist, is widely regarded as one of cinema’s most imaginative and visual filmmakers. Both his live-action and animated films have earned Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTAs and many other industry accolades, cementing his status as one of the greatest film makers of our time.

He has a dedicated following, notably for classic features such as Beetlejuice (1988); Edward Scissorhands (1990); and Sweeny Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) as well as blockbuster hits Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992); Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005); and Alice in Wonderland (2010). He helped to reinvigorate the stop-motion industry with his 1993 creation and cult classic Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas; followed by Corpse Bride (2005) and Frankenweenie (2012). Tim most recently produced and directed four episodes of the hit Netflix series, Wednesday (2022).

Long before becoming a director, Burton expressed himself through drawing, painting, poetry and photography, all of which have been documented in books The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories, The Napkin Art of Tim Burton and the 2009 release, The Art of Tim Burton, a 430-page volume comprising more than 40 years of his personal and professional artwork. Coinciding with the release of The Art of Tim Burton, the Museum of Modern Art opened an extensive exhibition of his work in New York, which went on to tour in Melbourne, Toronto, Los Angeles, Paris, and Seoul. A second exhibition of his artwork, The World of Tim Burton, continues to tour internationally. 

Product Details
ISBN: 9780688156817
ISBN-10: 0688156819
Publisher: Dey Street Books
Publication Date: October 22nd, 1997
Pages: 128
Language: English