For over 160 years Edgar Allan Poe’s works have spawned a plethora of writers, film makers, and dreamers. His work reflected a life of despair and poverty which, most believe, was the primary influence that gave his writing such a dark perspective. Though mostly known for a handful of works, such as “The Raven,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” and “The Fall of the House of Usher,” there is a good chance you have either watched or read an adaptation of one of his many other crime or horror stories.
Throughout this collection of graphic adaptations artists and writers have collaborated to bring a modern spin to a few of Poe’s greater and lesser known stories. Ten tales of suspense and the supernatural, brought to life by a few of SelfMadeHero’s best-known and most-used creators.
The Raven: Adapted by Dan Whitehead, art by Stuart Tipples. Kicking off the collection is Poe’s infamous poem, “The Raven.” Adapted by Dan Whitehead and illustrated by Stuart Tipples, this is the adaptation that most closely emulates Poe’s original content and doesn’t veer too far from the original text. Capturing the emotion through dialogue and the illustrations, Whitehead and Tipples do a great job getting this anthology started.
The Pit and the Pendulum: Adapted by Jamie Delano, art by Steve Pugh. Delano and Pugh have created a tasteful modern expression of corrupted interrogation and torture all while hanging on to Poe’s motif of mental degradation. I like it when these two work together (I have previously viewed their work in The Lovecraft Anthology: Volume 2) and am officially a fan of Pugh’s complex style.
The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar: Adapted by Jeremy Slater, art by John McCrea. As stated in this collection, when Poe’s original tale was published, it was believed to be true. The account of a soul suspended in limbo through hypnotism terrified people, but we are in a different time now, and Slater and McCrea’s idea of how this would take place today is on spot. Although I wasn’t completely satisfied with the story, the ending did bring it home to Poe’s final phrase, “Upon the bed… there lay a nearly liquid mass of loathsome-of detestable putridity.”
The Murders in the Rue Morgue: Adapted by Ian Edginton, art by D’Israeli. This is another duo I have seen before, but in The Lovecraft Anthology: Volume 1. I really don’t care for Mr. Poe’s version, however I found some enjoyment in Edginton and D’Israeli’s version. I have come to appreciate D’Israeli’s work over time and enjoy his cyberpunk outlook on this story.
The Fall of the House of Usher: Adapted by Dan Whitehead, art by Shane Ivan Oakley. I like Oakley’s twisted abstract illustrations, but found it hard at times, without any color, to distinguish what exactly was going on in each panel. Also, I’m not too keen on their idea of Roderick Usher being a haggard drugged out rock star. It takes away from his relationship with his sister, which is kind of the center of what is going on.
The Black Cat: Adapted by Leah Moore and John Reppion, art by James Fletcher. Not a bad adaptation, but not a favorable one by any means. I really didn’t buy into the storyline, though the panels were done nicely.
The Oval Portrait: Adapted by David Berner, art by Natalie Sandells. Though most aren’t fond of this story, it was one of the inspirations for Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. I feel as though this adaptation didn’t capture what Wilde must have seen in Poe’s work, and missed a lot of meaning.
The Tell-Tale Heart: Adapted by Jeremy Slater, art by Alice Duke. I expected this to be a better or the best of the collection, but was let down. Though Duke’s work is very good, and usually in color, these illustrated panels just didn’t carry the depth I’d normally see in her work. Unfortunately that and the story didn’t help to retell this classic.
The Masque of the Red Death: Adapted by Adam Prosser, art by Erik Rangel. This was probably the biggest letdown of the entire anthology. Though the panels were illustrated nicely, both the storyline and progression of the panels just left me shaking my head.
So it is probably apparent by now that I did not really care for this graphic anthology. It did kick open the door with two really good adaptations, but slowly lost traction and eventually lost my appreciation. Although I am not a fan of these collective revisions, I still believe each of them deserves to be looked over. This isn’t something I would recommend to any avid fan or scholar to Edgar Allan Poe’s work. Nor would I say it is something you need to have on your book shelf, but if you come across it at a yard sale or lying on a friend’s coffee table give it a look and see what you think.
David Joseph – Contributing Reviewer (dj)
David Joseph is the creator and sole writer for the strange site, Unspeakable Gibberer, where he.. well gibbers about things of an atypical nature and shares new things in the world of H.P. Lovecraft. He has had reviews published for West Pigeon Press, and has been sought out by the likes of Robin Wyatt Dunn, and Martian Migraine Press for advanced readings of books they want reviewed. On cloudless nights you can find David chanting dirges into the prairie winds of North Dakota. He has a wife, a dog, three cats, oh and a daughter. If you dig what he’s got going on, contact him at Unspeakablegibberer@live.com, or on Twitter (@UnspkbleGibberr) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/UnspeakableGibberer).