A hermit's 15,000 page work of beauty

Ransom Riggs

Perhaps the most prolific artist of our time, Henry Darger's strange genius wasn't discovered until after his death. He was a lonely and highly reclusive man who worked for years as a janitor in Chicago. He was odd and unkempt, scavenged through the garbage for art supplies and talked to himself in strange voices. He never took an art class, never bought a manual on how to draw or paint, but when he died in 1973 -- buried in a paupers' cemetery not far away, with no family or friends to provide for his burial -- his landlord discovered a massive literary and artistic body of work that he had been creating since nearly the turn of the century. It included hundreds of paintings, many of them up to ten feet in length, and an amazing, 15,145-page fantasy graphic novel entitled The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion. A brief summary of the book, and more of Darger's strange outsider art, after the jump:

According to Wikipedia, the book

postulates a large planet around which Earth orbits as a moon and where most people are Christian (mostly Catholic). The majority of the story concerns the adventures of the daughters of Robert Vivian, seven sisters who are princesses of the Christian nation of Abbiennia and who assist a daring rebellion against the evil John Manley's regime of child slavery imposed by the Glandelinians. The latter resemble Confederate soldiers from the American Civil War. (Darger, like his father, was a Civil War expert.) Children take up arms in their own defense and are often slain in battle or viciously tortured by the Glandelinian overlords. The elaborate mythology also includes a species called the "Blengigomeneans" (or Blengins for short), winged beings with curved horns who occasionally take human or part-human form. They are usually (but not always) benevolent toward the Vivian Girls.

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