A fabulously psychedelic creepy picture book, more suitable for adults than children, The Rainbow Goblins appeals to lovers of fantasy art and fairytales. It was first published in 1978; my edition is a 2019 reprint of the 1994 edition by Thames & Hudson.
The story is about the fate of 7 hideous goblins who roam the earth, catching and drinking the colours of the rainbow. It’s never exactly explained why it’s so bad to drink rainbows, but the place the goblins want to invade – The Valley of the Rainbow, where these brightly-coloured phenomena are born – is a paradise where animals live in harmony. If the goblins get to the source of the rainbows, evil will reign over the land. You can see it as symbolic if you wish… or merely enjoy it as a story about goblins.
Although the story is good, if a little disturbing, the stunning artwork is the real attraction. Ul de Rico used oil paint on oak panels and you can actually see the grain in these reproductions. Combine this feature with the dark palette and the focus on sublime landscapes and we have artwork which is reminiscent of the Old Masters’ style. There’s even a parody of Leonardo’s The Last Supper, with the Yellow Goblin (the leader) in the place of Jesus. The trippiest images are reserved for the last few pages, a riot of vivid dripping flowers and soaring birds.
Definitely a book to treasure. Ul de Rico wrote a sequel called The White Goblin which I had to get my hands on, despite it being out of print and relatively expensive.