The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus Is Making an Edward Gorey-Inspired Show About Neglected Murderesses

Norman Reedus as Daryl on The Walking Dead.
Norman Reedus as Daryl on The Walking Dead.
Photo: Gene Page/AMC

And I don’t just mean murderesses who have been neglected by history. I mean Neglected Murderess, the series of illustrations by Edward Gorey of The Gashleycrumb Tinies fame, about...well, murderesses who have been neglected by history.

Although the source material is appropriately macabre for the actor, this is a weird choice for The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus to try to turn into a TV series. For starters, Neglected Murderess isn’t a story—it’s a collection of separate portraits of unrelated women who had murdered someone or another, along with brief captions of their crime. Here are a few examples:

Mrs. Daisy Sallow eviscerated her daughter-in-law with a No. 7 hook, afterwards crocheting, over the course of three evenings, her shroud in a snowflake pattern (1921).

Miss Q. P. Urkheimer brained her fiancé after failing to pick up an easy spare at Glover’s Lanes, Poxville, Kansas, 1936.

Miss Emily Toastwater smothered her father after evening prayers, London S.W.7 (1916).

Natasha Batti-Loupstein pulverized a paste necklace and sprinkled it over a tray of canapés, Villa Libellule, Nice, 1923.

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That’s not much to work with, and the real draw of Neglected Murderess—pun not intended, I promise—is Gorey’s inimitable illustrations, which were published in a single volume in 1980 alongside his collection Dancing Cats. Neglected Murderesses is one of Gorey’s lesser-known works and hasn’t been reprinted since, but you can see a few of its images here.

Variety describes Reedus’ show as “a black comedy that tells the story of 12 enterprising, fictitious female killers, who use particularly unique methods to off their victims. Among them are: Nurse J. Rosebeetle, ‘who tilted her employer out of a wheelchair and over a cliff at Sludgemouth in 1898,’ Mrs. Fledaway, who ‘laced her husband’s tea with atropine in the spring of 1903,’ and Miss Q. P. Urkheimer, who ‘brained her fiancé after failing to pick up an easy spare at Glover’s Lanes.’”

I have to imagine Reedus’ Neglected Murderesses, which will likely premiere on AMC, will be an episodic anthology series à la Black Mirror and presumably not animated, although if you’ve seen Gorey’s classic intro to PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery series you know that would be a treat.

If the show gets picked up, it will be the first-ever live-action adaptation of the illustrator’s work, and all profits would be “donated to a number of animal welfare organizations, given Gorey’s fondness for animals.” But even if the show’s a hit, I sincerely doubt a live-adaptation of the alphabet of murdered children that is The Gashleycrumb Tinies will follow.

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Rob Bricken was the Editor of io9 from 2016-18, the creator of the poorly named but fan-favorite news site Topless Robot, and now writes nerd stuff for many places, because it's all he's good at.

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DISCUSSION

I had a wall calendar of the full series. The postcards are nice, but you can appreciate Gorey’s subtle humour in his linework all the more when it’s blown up to full-page size.