The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is a 1984 picture book made by Chris Van Allsburg of The Polar Express, Zathura, and Jumanji fame.An author and illustrator named Harris Burdick tells an editor that he has written fourteen stories and brings an illustration from each story with a caption, promising to deliver the full manuscript if the editor publishes his stories. Burdick, however, is never seen again. All that remains of him are the fourteen illustrations and their captions.A collection of stories based on the illustrations written by well-known professional authors, The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, was released in 2011.
The book provides examples of:
- Adaptation Expansion: Many authors have taken it to themselves to write adaptations of the illustrations. One of the more notable examples being Stephen King, who wrote a short story based on "The House on Maple Street" for Nightmares and Dreamscapes.
- Deliberately Monochrome
- Literary Agent Hypothesis: The backstory of Harris Burdick and his illustrations.
- Mind Screw: Many of the images are this.
- No Ending: All that remains of each story is a single sentence. Done with the intention that the reader will write their own story based off it.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Often. Actually a very handy tool for introducing the concept to budding horror enthusiasts.