I’d never seen this before, but it was recently linked in MetaFilter. What are some other faux “legendary” mysteries that you’ve run into? Besides Blair Witch.
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick
From the page:
Thirty years ago a man called at Peter Wender’s office, introducing himself as Harris Burdick. Mr. Burdick explained that he had written fourteen stories and had drawn many pictures for each one. He’d brought with him just one drawing from each story, to see if Wenders liked his work.
Peter Wenders was fascinated by the drawings. He told Burdick he would like to read the stories that went with them as soon as possible. The artist agreed to bring the stories the next morning. He left the fourteen drawings with Wenders. But he did not return the next day. Or the day after that. Harris Burdick was never heard from again. Over the years, Wenders tried to find out who Burdick was and what had happened to him, but he discovered nothing. To this day Harris Burdick remains a compete mystery.
His disappearance is not the only mystery left behind. What were the stories that went with these drawings? There are some clues. Burdick had written a title and caption for each picture.
What’s so mysterious about that? Guy goes to office to sell his work but doesn’t come back. Unexpected, perhaps (unless you are familiar with the neuroses of amateur artists and unpublished writers) but I think not quite in the realm of the supernatural, or, even, the realm of the faintly interesting. Really… even Charles Fort wouldn’t bother clipping it.
What you’re missing is context. This was a children’s book put out like ten or fifteen years ago. The text on that page was from the introduction, but it was never meant to be taken seriously- that’s why Gallant said ‘faux’ mysteries. That said, the book is really, really cool. I’ve given it as a gift several times, along with a blank book to write stories down in. Y’see, that’s kind of the point- the pictures are all completely unrelated, and they just kind of get the imagination flowing. So you write a story around the picture. Cool little fact- even Steven King did this a few years ago- one of the stories in one of his more recent (the last five years or so) story collections featured the last plate on that web page ‘The House on Maple Street’, and the line ‘It was a perfect lift off’
I’m not much of a King fan, but that’s pretty damn cool. :)